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Celebrate Florida Filmmakers at Florida Film Festival 2016

The Florida Film Festival has revealed this year’s program, which is chock full of parties, discussions and special guests! Tonight, Maitland’s own Academy Awards® qualifying film festival opens with its classic Opening Night Party featuring a film called The Lobster, directed by Yorgos Lanthimos and starring Colin Farrell.

While we are excited to welcome actress Sissy Spacek and director Mark Duplass to Central Florida, we are even more excited to see Florida’s awesome filmmakers up on the big screen! Be sure to follow Top 5 contributors (and filmmakers!) Rich, Jay, Allen, Jen and first time guest contributor Christopher Collins for live updates from #FFF2016!

At Enzian Theater’s annual Brouhaha Film & Video Showcase, a mix of 13 schools (nine colleges & four high schools), 7 FilmSlam Winners, and many other independent entries (totaling 62 films!) were screened. Twelve films, made right here in Florida, were selected by a combination of jury and audience votes to screen as part of the Florida Sidebar in this year’s Florida Film Festival (April 8-17, 2016), sponsored by Full Sail University.

Below is the program for Florida Shorts: The Best of Brouhaha followed by three great Florida centric documentaries! If you see one of the filmmakers at this year’s fest, be sure to give them a high five! Festival tickets are available for purchase online or at the Enzian box office: www.FloridaFilmFestival.com/tickets

Written/Directed by Jake Hammond, Produced by Chloe Lind, Florida State University, 6 min 33 sec

A moody 10-year-old boy, stuck at his little sister’s birthday party, slips away for solitude and encounters a malevolent presence hiding within the ball pit of a sprawling indoor playground.

Directed by Sterling Sims, Full Sail University, 8 min 37 sec
(Meet Sterling Simms at the 4/16 screening!)

The story of the owner of Florida Discount Music, Mike Della Cioppa, who turned an ailing music shop into a cultural music hub that the community didn’t even know it needed.

Written/Directed/Produced by Richard Lee, University of Central Florida, 3 min 10 sec
(Meet Richard Lee at the 4/16 screening!)

A deep sea diver finds himself stranded in a forbidden domain at the bottom of the ocean.  In the face of danger, he must seek out parts to repair his submarine.

Written/Directed by Lydia Dullinger, Produced by Brandon Cox, Florida State University, 7 min 28 sec

Lily has a rare genetic trait that’s causing her to grow wings during puberty.  Surviving high school gets even more complicated when she meets Logan, a gay teenager determined to be her friend.

Co-written/Directed by Steve Jean-Jacques, Co-written by Jordan Loscalzo, Full Sail University, 9 min 58 sec
(Meet Steve Jean-Jacques at the 4/16 screening!)

A girl with a death wish meets her mother’s new boyfriend with some mixed results.

Written/Directed/Produced by Christina Chang & Charlie Parisi, Ringling College of Art and Design, 3 min 52 sec

A strict father-son relationship is put to the test on a piñata ranch when the boy befriends one of the livestock and the ultimate sacrifice is on the line.

Written/Directed by Yiyi Yin, Produced by Saad Nawab, Florida State University, 15 min 4 sec

Xiao is so relieved after his perfect girlfriend returns to him.  But when he realizes she’s still in love with another man, he resorts to revenge…and the love of a mannequin.

Written/Directed/Produced by Paige Callan, Lake Highland Preparatory School, 6 min 8 sec
(Meet Paige Callan at the 4/16 screening!)

On the last day of her senior year, Maddie does not want to leave high school with any regrets.  She is finally ready to profess her true love to the boy she has liked since Pre-K.  But is the feeling mutual?

A very strong program from our June 2015 #filmmakers! #filmslam

A photo posted by Enzian FilmSlam (@enzianfilmslam) on

CARTERPILLAR [June 2015 FilmSlam Audience Award Winner]
Co-written/Directed/Produced by Ariel Zengotita, Co-written by Alex Zengotita, 2 min 57 sec
(Meet Ariel Zengotita at the 4/16 screening!)

A misfit toy car stars in this heartwarming, stop-motion film about loneliness and the need to belong.

Written/Directed/Produced by Grace Marrero, Florida State University, 7 min 26 sec

When animals fall victim to human-related incidents, Busch Wildlife Sanctuary heals and releases them back into the wild to once again be free.

NONE OF THAT  (Brouhaha Audience Award Winner)
Written/Directed/Produced by Anna Hinds Paddock, Kriti Kaur & Isabela Littger, Ringling College of Art and Design, 4 min 11 sec

A night museum guard discovers he’s in for more than he bargained for when a mysterious entity begins to censor all of the nude artwork.

Written/Directed by Armaan Uplekar, Produced by Aubrey Danielson, Florida State University, 13 min 44 sec
(Meet Armaan Uplekar at the 4/16 screening!)

Rhett and Deacon, white teenagers growing up in the Deep South, have blood on their hands after committing a racially motivated murder.  In the hours afterward, Rhett struggles to reconcile his guilt with his racial beliefs, while drawn to the affections of a local waitress.

Also included in this year’s program are three Florida centric documentaries;

Sponsored by Orlando Film Commission
Directed by Cecilia Aldarondo, SOUTHEAST PREMIERE/2ND US SHOWING

Twenty-five years after Cecilia Aldarondo’s Uncle Miguel died of AIDS, she tracks down his long-lost lover in search of answers as to why Miguel repented his homosexuality as death drew near. Uncovering the truth requires Cecilia to confront her family members with tough questions in an attempt to peel back the layers of denial associated with her uncle’s sexuality. Confronting her own family’s, the Latino culture’s, and the Church’s issues with homosexuality, she gives voice to his struggle for both love and acceptance. The search for answers about her uncle’s deathbed repentance becomes a complicated exploration of unresolved family drama. Stylish and unflinching in its approach, MEMORIES OF A PENITENT HEART explores both the personal story of Cecilia’s own family conflict, and the larger story of the AIDS crisis during the 1980s and 1990s—particularly the under-explored history of the many Latino artists who died during that time.

Directed by Eric Rockey
(Meet Eric Rockey at the 4/17 screening!)

Growing up in conservative rural Florida, a six-year-old, gender non-conforming boy named Jeffrey wants to be a princess for Halloween.

Sponsored by Orlando Film Commission and Tampa Hillsborough Film & Digital Media Commission
Directed by Andrew Shea, WORLD PREMIERE
(Meet Andrew Shea, James Eowan and Udi Epstein at the 4/16 screening!)

America’s last true frontier wasn’t the Golden West. It was the sawgrass seas of Florida’s Everglades, where a few thousand Native Americans fled 200 years ago and refused to die out. From that fierce, hardscrabble lineage comes the last of the great Indian chiefs, James Billie—a man born into this century but forged by the mythology of the past—a hunter, poet, soldier, and charismatic leader of 4,000 Florida Seminoles made wealthy beyond their wildest imaginings by Billie’s invention of (mostly) legalized gaming on reservations. With a deep personal charm that works almost magical results on everything from alligators to politicians, Billie is untouchable—until hubris, that bane of every hero beloved of the gods, threatens to bring him down and tumble the empire he built for the tribe he loves.

Florida Film Festival 2016 Farmers Market

Connect with the 2016 Florida Film Festival online:

Orlando – Please Don’t Redefine Us

Lately I’ve been reading numerous articles by extremely passionate Orlando-area citizens, who declare their love for the City Beautiful. They write about the thriving literary community, the bursting tech industry, the outstanding colleges and universities, and even the highly touted food and art scene.

And in nearly every article, each well-meaning writer relates angry disgust that media outlets from across the nation are just now discovering that Orlando isn’t a “cultural wasteland” after all. And as a by-product of that anger, every writer then wants to redefine who we are or wants to describe Orlando as having a rebirth. (As if all our greatness had disappeared until just recently!)

Perhaps this common theme of needing to redefine what Orlando is comes from the fact that most of these writers start their articles by explaining they moved to Central Florida “several years ago” for school or work or to retire. And like many, they didn’t expect to fall in love with the City and were thrilled to see how much it had to offer in the aforementioned literary, arts, food, tech et al. (How ironic they now take exception to the fact that outsiders don’t also know this.) These writers say, “You don’t know the real Orlando. We’re not just Disney.”

While I certainly appreciate these eager citizens wanting to tout how wonderful our area is, I find myself bristling at the term “redefining” because feels like we weren’t good enough before these people arrived in Central Florida and decided to give us a new definition.

You see, I was born and raised here, just like my mother was, and just like my grandmother was back in the 1800s. There are a number of us here, actually, native Central Floridians that have always known what Orlando is and don’t need new arrivals to suddenly tell us what we are and what we have.

We’ve Always Had a Literary Scene

Yes, even before Jack Kerouac.

Back in 1926 Rollins College began the Animated Magazine. Since paper and printing supplies were still in somewhat short supply due to the fairly recent first World War, then-college President Hamilton Holt decided that the articles should be read aloud on stage instead of printed. This turned into an annual event that used to draw thousands. In the crowd sat dignitaries from around the world, including Secretaries of State and even former FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover.

Animated Magazine - Rollins College

Animated Magazine – Rollins College

The Animated Magazine lives on today, under the tutelage of editors like U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins, and has helped bring about the annual Winter with the Writers, which is where I got to see Maya Angelou when she visited back in 2007.

With the Orlando Public Library opening in 1923, and the Zora Neale Hurston Festival operating for nearly 30 years now, this is just further evidence the literary scene is not having a rebirth but has quietly been here all along.

We’ve Always Had an Art Scene

One of the nation’s oldest, largest, and most prestigious art festivals happens right here at the Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival. The Orlando Museum of Art was established in 1924, the Maitland Art Center in 1937, and we’ve had the Crealde School of Art and Jamali for over 40 years now. Add in the Polasek Museum and the world’s largest collection of Tiffany glass at the Morse Museum, and we’re doing just fine.

Albin Polasek

Albin Polasek

Famed actor Buddy Epsen’s father started the Central Florida Ballet Company in 1945. “I dared not start a ballet company here in Orlando because the idea seemed hopeless,” Epsen was quoted as saying. “Now there are several companies throughout Florida.” Epsen’s company was later taken over by Edith Royal, whose “Ballet Royal” supplied generations of dancers to the great stages of the world.

And even earlier, Ruth Pounds started a dance school in 1935, which taught both my mother and then me how to dance, sit, curtsy, and all the etiquette required of a cultured young adult.

The area has always had beautiful architecture thanks to those like Gamble Rogers, II, who helped create the beauty that attracted leading artists, business tycoons, and top politicians to settle in the area.

When President Dwight Eisenhower dedicated the opening of the basement radio station at Rollins College (still one of the longest-running basement radios in the country), we made indie radio hip long before we made boy bands hip in the 1990s. You can check brief history of radios at Radio Waves.

We’ve Always Had a Tech Scene

Lockheed Martin opened its doors in 1956. (My mother worked there afternoons in high school!) Shortly thereafter, the Kennedy Space Center was built nearby to oversee the Apollo missions. We watched those missions, and later those of the Space Shuttle, right from our backyards – and I’m pretty sure it doesn’t get much cooler than that!

Kennedy Space Center

Kennedy Space Center

Thankfully this tech industry also had a need for engineers; thus UCF was founded in 1963 and has grown into one of the largest universities in the nation. Add in the innovations of Walt Disney in the 70s, and then Full Sail University in the 80s, and yep, we’ve always had a tech scene.

We’ve Always Had a Food Scene

Food trucks did not make the food hip in this city.

We’ve always had great food, ranging from Dixie Crossroads and La Cantina to Le Cordon Bleu and Gary’s Duck Inn. From the 94th Aero Squadron, which served incredible food since World War I, to Ronnie’s Diner which opened in 1956, Orlando always had talked-about food. The fact that the establishments serving that food is changing, doesn’t mean there weren’t great restaurants before the new ones arrived.

Ronnie's Diner

Ronnie’s Diner

With T.G. Lee Dairy and the many orange groves, we’ve always been farm-to-table. And when you add in Publix (founded in 1930), we were doing just fine long before this so-called rebirth.

We’re Growing, Not Rebirthing

Yes, it is an exciting time to be in Orlando. We are growing in many different, wonderful ways. Newcomers are bringing great assets, and companies are setting up roots and investing here. With strong leadership we will continue to flourish.

And while I admire the zeal these newcomers use to tell the rest of the world how great Orlando is, please don’t act like this is a new development in Orlando’s history. Don’t call it a rebirth or try to redefine it.

We are who we are, and always have been.

We don’t want to be New York, San Francisco, or even Austin. We want to be who and what we already are. We’re orange groves and Disney. We’re tech and and old-fashioned books. We’re art and great food.

But, we’re not the best thing since sliced bread… we were cool long before that hit the world back in 1930!

This guest post was written by Bess Auer, fourth generation Floridian and the first editor of the Central Florida Top 5. You can connect with her on Twitter at @Bess_Auer.

Music Festival Hall of Fame 2014 @ Full Sail University!

Full Sail University Adds Music Festival to 5th Annual Hall of Fame 

Yes,  A Music Festival too!  FREE Music Festival the  19th-21st of February!

Link to Schedule HERE 

(More soon check back for full coverage!)


Full Sail University is proud to announce the addition of a three-day music festival to the 5th Annual Hall of Fame celebration featuring nationally and locally recognized bands and artists performing live on Full Sail’s campus. The Hall of Fame music festival will also include gaming exhibits, film screenings, food trucks and more.

This year’s Hall of Fame Music Festival, sponsored by WWE®, will feature performances by: Bear Toe, Beebs and Her Money Makers, Courrier, Jeremy Ellis, The Pauses, Thomas Wynn & The Believers, and many more. Admission to the music festival is free and open to the public, with doors opening at 12pm daily and performances held on the university’s Hollywood-style backlot from 3pm to 9pm. Full Sail’s Hall of Fame Week is sponsored by Sony Electronics’ Professional Solutions of America, with supporting sponsors WWE, Adobe Systems, Inc., Avid, CDW-G, Cisco, Hewlett Packard Co., Murphy Lighting Systems, and Sennheiser.

During Hall of Fame week, guest lectures and panel discussions will take place featuring new and past Hall of Fame inductees and industry leaders from notable companies including, but not limited to, ESPN, Sony, and WWE. Select events within the week will be streamed live to the university’s online students and the public.

“As we embark on our 5th annual Hall of Fame celebration week, and the 35th anniversary of our university, we are filled with an astounding sense of pride surrounding our remarkable university community,” said Full Sail University President, Garry Jones.

Additional information regarding events, music festival performance schedule, and special guests will be announced as Hall of Fame Week approaches. Please visit the mobile-optimized site http://halloffame.fullsail.edu for more details, and follow @FullSail to join the #FullSailHOF conversation on Twitter.