In the promotional graphic for this year’s Florida Film Festival (illustrated by animator Bill Plympton), a forlorn Enzian Theater armchair calls to audiences, “I’m ready for you.”
Only after two years of isolation could we relate so much with an inanimate object. The chair, with its moody shading and palpable longing for the third F in Enzian’s “Film | Food | Friends”, is the perfect mascot for the festival’s 31st year and triumphant return to fully in-person screenings and panels after two years of virtual and hybrid programming.
This month, we sat down with Deanna Tiedtke, Enzian’s director of public relations, to get her recommendations for the most exciting titles to watch out for. Keep reading for some of her favorites out of the 160+ films showing during the festival! (Documentary lovers, you’re in luck.)
- Opening Night Film: PRE FAB!
The festival’s opening night film is PRE FAB!, the story of The Beatles before they were The Beatles. The documentary (directed by Todd Thompson, who is from the Maitland area) features never-before-seen footage and photographs from the time between 1956-1959 when John Lennon rounded up his closest friends to form a group called the Quarry Men, which eventually became the legendary 4-piece rock ‘n’ roll band we all know and love.
- Wildlife Documentary: PATH OF THE PANTHER
A close study of one of Florida’s most beloved and endangered species over 6 years in the making, Path of the Panther follows the threats to the Florida Panther’s survival and the fight to protect these magnificent animals. The film will make its world premiere at the Florida Film Festival and will be accompanied by a free forum at the Winter Park Library on the uncertainty of purpose-driven nature documentaries and the filmmakers’ involvement in saving the Florida Wildlife Corridor.
- Competition Documentary Feature: JACK HAS A PLAN
For the last 25 years, Jack has been given “six months to live” due to a malignant brain tumor. Despite two decades leading his dance with death, Jack receives some bad news that will force him to stare down his own mortality and make the decision to die with dignity. Filmed and directed by Jack’s best friend, Bradley Berman, this documentary making its world premiere is touching, hopeful and surprisingly uplifting.
- Florida Film: SURVIVING PULSE: LIFE AFTER A MASS SHOOTING
On June 12, 2016, Orlando’s LGBTQ+ community suffered a tragic attack that claimed 49 beautiful souls and left many more with lasting scars, both physical and emotional. This documentary tells the stories of some of the survivors of the Pulse Shooting and their memories of that night. The group gives an intimate account of how their lives have changed and what struggles remain.
- MIDNIGHT SHORTS: April 9 & April 16
It’s not a single screening, but it’s definitely one of Deanna’s favorite parts of the Film Festival. This year, The Florida Film Festival will be showing Midnight Shorts on Saturday, April 9 and 16. These short films are delightful tidbits that are just a little “too weird for the rest of the festival,” Deanna says. If you’re a night owl with a penchant for the strange, definitely check out Midnight Shorts!
Most of all, Deanna says she’s excited to see folks face-to-face at the festival again, just like our melancholy arm chair. After all, that’s part of the magic of the Enzian. Instead of silently pondering a film’s meaning on the drive home from the theater, patrons can talk it out with other moviegoers over a delicious cocktail at Eden Bar.
“The idea of Enzian is that you’re given a window into the world,” she said. “We like to challenge people, and at the end of the day, how challenged are you if you can just go back to sitting on your couch?”
View the full 2022 Film Festival Program and buy tickets here.