As the smoke clears on South Orlando Avenue in Maitland, Florida, it is time to look back at the FLORIDA FILM FESTIVAL. 
The Festival ran 10 days in April – which is perfect for me; now I know what I want for my birthday EVERY year.
Speaking of birthdays, this year was the 20th anniversary of the Festival
The venues for this year’s Festival were the Enzian Theater  and the Regal Winter Park Village Cinema . The Enzian is the main venue, situated South Orlando Ave. (17-92 for those in the know). I am a bit fuzzy on the historic details of the Enzian but it is a really wonderful venue, very Florida, very indie filmy. It is the place to watch indie films in the Orlando area. The grounds of the Enzian are beautiful! An outdoor café, the Eden Bar is a perfect place to relax and meet friends and filmmakers
I had one goal going into the Festival – to see as many independent live-action and animated shorts as possible. I would watch until my eyes blurred over, steamed up and dropped out from constant extreme usage.
Of course, I had to work around my teaching schedule that included some Saturdays during the month.
It was easy to find a delicate balance among the many presentations. The lone feature we (my daughter Kristin and I attended) was DOG SWEAT  – an Iranian film produced “under the radar” about the lives of young adults. At first, I thought it was a documentary and then realized later it was a scripted film. The director, Hossein Keshavarz was present and he related many inside stories about how they by-passed the authorities and the system to make the film. He said the film was an accurate depiction of how life was for young Iranians. I really enjoyed being with Kristin and we discussed the film at great length afterwards. The moments at the Festival with her are ones I will remember always.
We were fortunate to see Bill Plympton  again at the Festival. Bill was there only one night and then he was off to Ohio for more festivals. We did have a nice chat. I can still remember the dinner we had in 1999 with friend and animator, Graham Toms at an old hotel in Winter Park. I had just left Disney (or vice versa) and was overjoyed to spend time with animators.
Next, I saw several live-action short presentations. There were international and “domestic” offerings – some were themed. The international live-action program was extremely strong. Every film was a much deserved selection.
The animation offerings were a potpourri of narratives and experimental together on one bill. It might better to split up the category – in fairness to the artists; especially if the audience is voting for favorites. Among the “domestic” offerings THE DEEP by Pes and the charming oral history short DANNY & ANNIE and THE FANTASTIC FLYING BOOKS OF MR. MORRIS LESSMORE were the most impressive. THE FANTASTIC FLYING BOOKS OF MR. MORRIS LESSMORE was the most wonderful story told with miniature backgrounds and CG character animation. FANTASTIC… was produced by Moonbot Studios , a new animation studio in Shreveport, La. One of the directors and a couple of the animators were present to discuss the film.
The International Animated Shorts featured a mix of animation techniques. The Oscar nominated THE GRUFFALO headed the field.
The Best of the Brouhaha Festival was also screened. It was a dazzling array of student films. I knew about the films from Full Sail University and UCF and Ringling – but I had no idea that Florida State students produced such professional work. Ringling accounted for many of the animated contributions on the program. The animated films included: NO SOLICITING, FLIP A DOG GOES FROM HERE TO THERE, DEPARTURE OF LOVE and DILLA. The future appears bright for indie animation.
Now on to finish MIMI AND GACK…
By the way, my eyeballs are intact and ready for more...