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Frankly My Dear...

    Frankly My Dear...

    The Orlando Film Festival — 14 days out, and…

    Posted: 04 Oct 2011 04:49 AM PDT

    What, exactly, is this year’s Orlando Film Festival to be? Fourteen days out and nothing but deafening silence coming from the once strutting home of big glitzy promises, “big films, big stars,” cocky enough to do TV ads mocking other film festivals.

    Now, five years in, they’re a mature event and they’ve moved up from November to October. To get better films? To line up special guests?

    Look at their website. No “events” have been announced. I have been trying to get info from them for over a week. Other film festivals would have been lobbying for coverage back in early September. A more established film festival is all over the local press, working up coverage, a month and a half before their opening night. Not this one.

    Jon Provost, who was once “Timmy” in the old Lassie movies, is coming to Daytona Beach’s Cinematique on Oct. 10. That appears to be a bigger name than anybody the OFF has coming. At least at this juncture.

    They have films and showtimes arranged for their Plaza Cinema Cafe home.  But the film lineup?

    “Grills Gone Wild,” a local TV-ready Florida doc on competitive barbequing which premiered in Daytona Beach last summer. “Beat Box,” which already played at a local festival, HBO’s “Marathon Boy,” which played at the South Asian Film Festival here last weekend. No descriptions of other films, just trailers for a few are posted. “My Fair Lidy,” just filmed here this past summer, will be screened out of competition. It’s listed on the website as “My Fair Liddy.”

    There may be gems in there, but finding them will be as difficult as it always is at OFF. Their film lineup has had an interesting offering, here and there, since this festival started up. Maybe one truly good film a year, to be blunt. They should be trying a LOT harder, in that department.

    I give our local OLA Fest endless grief for how seat-of-the-pants, last-minute disorganized they often seem to be. If you don’t have your ducks in a row in advance, people can’t plan and the publicity you get is limited because nobody knows what you’re doing because you don’t really know in advance what you’re doing.

    I chide the Central Florida Film Festival for its film selection. Still do.

    I have criticized The Florida Film Festival for its “mission creep,” a film fest that on some years delivers film and film stars, and on others simply morphs into a pricey food and wine event, which is where the interests of the family who run that operation have drifted.

    Fourteen days out, and the OFF director is all over Facebook as he takes part in a nationwide car rally , which was the subject of a half-baked documentary he was championing at last year’s OFF, a film now apparently finished. Whoopee.  Did he angle his way into the finished film, which seems to have been his goal? Too harsh a question to ask?  His first major act as OFF director was to book a no-budget thriller he’d worked on into the Plaza Cinema Cafe,working his new OFF angle to get exposure for his own work.

    Does this sound like a guy who has his eye on the ball? Most local festival directors I know are hustling hustling hustling to get better and better films into their event, right up to the last minute, working the phones well into the festival trying to arrange for this celebrity or that one to come show his or her film, or just be feted. Especially if that hasn’t been arranged months in advance.

    Have they all lost interest in their dream of a downtown film festival? I flip through the star-studded lineups of the Savannah Film Festival (a tiny, toney city with a small but prestigious film school), Fort Lauderdale, etc, and I am impressed. Arranging for famous filmmakers and film stars to come to your festival takes money and planning.  I wonder what happened to all the big OFF talk here, all the passion and the interest. Has that gone away?

    Money is tight, but that doesn’t prevent you from getting studios and filmmakers to let you show better films. Yeah, the movies are “free.” Which about what too many of them are worth.

    Five years in, you should be established in the minds of the studios, the filmmakers, and not coasting along on the hope that people confuse you for the longer-established, better recognized Florida Film Festival.  They had to wait years to get their venue built, showing movies in rooms, not theaters, around downtown. But that excuse is long gone. I hinted last year that it was put up or shut up time for this festival, but the time for warning shots, gentle prodding, cajoling, walking them through things, is over.

    Five years in, OFF, is this all there is?

    Today’s interview: Zachary Quinto

    Posted: 03 Oct 2011 10:16 AM PDT

    He gained his first blush of fame as the new Mr. Spock in the J.J. Abrams “Star Trek” revival.

    He’s in “What’s Your Number?” playing the boyfriend who splits up with Ally Darling (Anna Faris) in the opening scene.

    And he co-stars in and produced “Margin Call,” a very fine film about Wall Street, what’s going wrong, what those who knew what was going to happen knew and when they knew it.

    Got questions for Zachary Quinto? We’re chatting this afternoon and I am always looking for suggestions. Probably not “Star Trek” suggestions, but we’ll take what you give.