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Film & Video

Barely legal
The Florida Film Festival turns 18 and discovers its sexier side
Illustration by Scott Scheidly


Florida Film Festival 2009

March 27-April 5 at Enzian Theater and Regal Winter Park Village 20
$10 (individual screenings), $600 (Platinum Pass)
407-629-1088, ext. 225

It feels like the first time.

The Florida Film Festival’s yearly parade of independent and moderately budgeted mainstream cinema has entered its 18th year and, as one might expect at that age, sex is on its mind. The 10-day extravaganza of film, food and financial flagellation (don’t look for Depression-era leniency in the ticket prices) has gone biblical with an elegantly suggestive theme. Visually, they’re showcasing a nude Eve, an apple with a bite mark and, of course, a snake, tied together with the naughty pun “Original Cinema.” The television and radio campaign, however, is just as fumbling and awkward as that first reach under the sweater: “Make this the year you go!” Careful there, kid.

Within this year’s marathon of 155 feature films and shorts from 19 countries, along with a few classics – a sleep-busting embarrassment of screen riches that we’ve helpfully sorted through for you – one can watch a Culkin kid and a Nickelodeon starlet tenderly “lose it” (Lymelife) or British classmates get to it for their first time to a Buzzcocks song (Love You More). The excitement nearly pops off the screen in the orgy-filled American Swing, while a couple of lowdown virgins stumble across an undead sex slave in Deadgirl. Babel writer Guillermo Arriaga gives us two teenage kids re-enacting their parents’ torrid affair in The Burning Plain. In the narrative features competition, a female rig driver doesn’t mind a truck-stop romp or two (Trucker), and in We Are the Mods, an impressionable girl is helped along into womanhood by her newfound hipster friends.

Even FFF’s recent detour into foodie culture has awakened to its libidinous nature. The film-food integration has been given its own randy theme – “Temptation, Redemption and Indulgence” – and in addition to Iron Chef Cat Cora’s guest appearance (and the festival’s own selected culinary films), evenings with three local chefs will feature a dinner based on a film; the clips that inspired the dishes will be screened between courses. (Visit this week’s Food and Drink page for more information on the opening-weekend Food and Wine Celebration.)

Nobody knows affairs of the loins like the Italians, so the fest has wisely enlisted their advice. Not only does the boot get its own program with the new Italian shorts lineup, but a pristine (and rare) 35 mm print of Fellini’s orgiastic La Dolce Vita is on the docket.

Rounding out the carnal course are special appearances by Hollywood players who know a thing or two about desire. Glenn Close is in the house (though tickets are sold out) Friday, April 3 to screen Fatal Attraction; prickly director Ken Russell showcases his ’80s erotic thriller Crimes of Passion (see story here); and actor Jon Voight (whose daughter, Angelina Jolie, is the modern embodiment of sexy) closes the festival with a sold-out screening of his star turn in Midnight Cowboy, the only X-rated film ever to win an Oscar.

It’s enough to make the most experienced filmgoer swoon. But if this is your first time, you may need some guidance. That’s why we’re here: Arranged by category below are 153 reviews that cover almost every single film at the festival. Find the full schedule (and the inevitable last-minute changes) housed at

That should get you started. But if you decide to “make this the year you go,” don’t beat yourself up if you’re no good at it. There’s a first time for everyone.

— Justin Strout

The films of the 2009 Florida Film Festival: We review (almost) every single one of them by Justin Strout, Rob Boylan, William Goss, John Thomason, Steve Schneider and Jessica Bryce Young

Links to each category
Opening Night
Narrative Features
Documentary Features
International Features
Music Films
Midnight Movies: Short Films and Features
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