Tag Archives: Florida Film Festival

Actor Billy Crudup Feels at Home with Subversive Characters By Sandra Carr

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Portraying a wide range of characters appeals to actor Billy Crudup. His films include Without LimitsAlmost Famous, Big Fish, Watchmen and Jackie. He shared amusing and interesting anecdotes during his question-and-answer session after the Jesus’ Son screening during the Florida Film Festival at the Enzian Theater.

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Crudup finds pleasure and growth as an actor portraying conflicted, complicated and unlikeable characters and said “his intention is to show one moment where you get a glimpse of their humanity.”

He played a messed up guy named FH, which is short for F**khead in Jesus’ Son, a drug-induced ride that crashes and finds stability during the 1970s.  The film was adapted from a collection of short stories by cult author Denis Johnson and features supporting cast members Jack Black, Denis Leary, Holly Hunter and Dennis Hopper.

Jesus' Son

Black’s scenes are filled with many laugh-out-loud moments, including when he was a hospital orderly helping a patient who had a hunting knife in his eye and accidentally running over a rabbit and trying to save its bunnies. Crudup said he had to close his eyes during the takes he shared with Black because he was so vividly entertained by what Black was doing as an observer that he couldn’t get through the scene. It was difficult for Crudup to look or engage with him because “what he was doing was brilliant, inventive, entertaining and charismatic.”

Jack Black

Crudup has had a wealth of acting opportunities, and I asked him if there was one character that has stayed with him.

His response was “F**khead because of his clumsy hopefulness.” He also said there was something touching in the scene where the heart tattoo comes to life and it’s sort of back lit with golden rays and finding that in any small experiences you have in your relationships despite all of the awfulness in life. To Crudup, that’s something to aspire to along with finding enough peace in your inner life where you can appreciate the constant stream of beauty and surprise around you and your experience with humanity.

Crudup also discussed portraying runner Steve Prefontaine in Without Limits. He was an athlete who was at the forefront of endorsing Nike footwear and competed in the 1972 Olympics in Munich, Germany.

Tom Cruise was one of the film’s producers. Crudup said he would occasionally get a phone call from Cruise who would cheer him up and say, “Keep at it! It’s going to be great!”

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He also portrayed the golden god Russell Hammond in one my favorite rock ‘n’ roll movies Almost Famous, written and directed by Cameron Crowe. Crudrup was thrilled to be a part of the film, but was afraid of becoming typecast.

“I didn’t want to become trapped by playing heroes or romantic leads,” he said. “Not that I didn’t want to play romantic characters, but Russell is an anomaly. He’s a bona fide rock star who has mystery.”

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Other roles include portraying the nagging and frustrated son Will Bloom who is trying to determine fact from fiction during his dying father’s life in Big Fish, directed by Tim Burton.

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He also portrayed superhero Dr. Manhattan in the Watchmen.

Watchmen

His upcoming movies include Alien: Covenant and Justice League.

One attendee asked if he has nightmares about Sigourney Weaver and Crudup assured him that the actress was in his dreams.

He couldn’t share too much about Alien: Covenant, but said he plays a member of the crew on a colonizing mission that doesn’t go as planned. The movie hits theaters on May 19.

In Justice League, he plays Barry Allen’s (The Flash) father Henry and couldn’t tell the audience any other details about the upcoming film. The film’s release date is Nov. 17.

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Learn more about Crudup’s career on imdb.com.

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Actress Lea Thompson Shares Movie Memories at Florida Film Festival By Sandra Carr

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Actress Lea Thompson opened and shared her time capsule of film-career memories, spanning more than 30 years, during her question-and-answer session after the Back to the Future screening at the Enzian Theater.

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Thompson portrayed Marty McFly’s (Michael J. Fox) mom Lorraine Baines in the classic, blockbuster film.

Back to the Future is a blast from the past, but has a meaningful message.

“The movie has a lesson, which is one moment can change your life,” said Thompson. “I think that’s one of the secrets of time travel. It’s not just the cool time machine, but it’s the idea of looking back and seeing the past and future at the same time.”

Lea Thompson

One fan asked Thompson if there was one Back to the Future memento that she regrets not snagging from the set and she said it was the DeLorean [Laughs]. However, she did get to keep the dreamy pink prom dress that she wore during the Enchantment Under the Sea Dance scenes.

Lea Thompson Wearing Prom Dress

I had an opportunity to ask Thompson if there were any funny moments she experienced with the cast while filming Back to the Future. She said the funniest scene is when she portrays vodka-drinking Lorraine and brings out her brother Joey’s jailbird cake. Thompson said Crispin Glover (George McFly) was cracking up the cast with his quirky laugh. She said she was trying not to laugh because the problem with plastic makeup is that it’s glued on and the seams can not be put back into place once they’re broken. Thompson said the scene is hilarious and the actors kept laughing their way through it for an hour-and-a-half.

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She discussed how she got the part of Kelly Ann Bukowski in Jaws 3-D  with little acting experience and not knowing how to water ski before filming scenes at SeaWorld Orlando.

Jaws 3-D

Thompson remembered how nervous Tom Cruise was during his All the Right Moves screen test. She also had to go undercover at a high school in order to prepare for her role as Lisa. She recalled getting busted for skipping class because nobody knew she was an actress. Thompson said the movie was filmed before Cruise became a massive star.

All the Right Moves

She fondly recalled moments with Patrick Swayze while filming Red Dawn. Thompson said the cast had mock-up AK-47 rifles in their hotel rooms and would run around with the guns in Las Vegas and Mexico in the middle of the night.

Thompson and Swayze were both ballet dancers. She said they would perform acts from the ballet Giselle whenever they weren’t shooting scenes or guns.

Red Dawn

The actress became teary eyed after a fan told her how SpaceCamp inspired her to become a NASA rocket scientist and that the Mars rover was one of her projects.

Space Camp

A Howard the Duck fan had Thompson sign his movie memorabilia at MegaCon. She was impressed that he had the original soundtrack on vinyl. He said if their paths crossed again and he found another soundtrack, then he would give it to her. As fate would have it, Thompson now owns the Howard the Duck soundtrack thanks to a fan named Tom.

Howard the Duck

Thompson portrayed Amanda Jones, the popular pretty girl who had a rough home life in John Hughes’ last 1980s teen movie Some Kind of Wonderful. She also met the love of her life, husband and director Howard Deutch while filming the movie.

Some Kind of Wonderful

After she had a baby, Thompson had a difficult time getting parts in movies until she landed the role of Caroline Duffy in the TV sitcom Caroline in the City. Her character was a successful cartoonist living in Manhattan whose comic strip “Caroline in the City” became a huge hit.

She said it was a great job, but filming a sitcom is hard. Thompson said there’s so much pressure because of the way the scripts are created. Plus, you’re telling jokes and you have to set up the scenes perfectly in front of a live audience.

The show also made converting old TVs into fish tanks popular during the mid-1990s.

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Learn more about Thompson’s career on imdb.com.

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Florida Film Festival Keeps it Real By Sandra Carr

The Florida Film Festival, now in its 26th year, is true to its movies, audience and mantra “Film, Food and Friends.” The flick fete provides its faithful filmgoers with a reel repertoire, including documentaries, features, shorts, special screenings, spotlights and forums at the Enzian Theater in Maitland, Fla. and Regal Cinemas Winter Park Village Stadium 20 Movie Theater in Winter Park, Fla. from April 21-30, 2017.

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The juried festival features 182 films representing 40 countries with 139 having premiere status, including 17 world premieres.

The Hero

The opening-night celebration features The Hero, a film starring legendary character actor Sam Elliott portraying a Western actor who is no longer in the limelight, but reprises his famous role in The Hero sequel after receiving unexpected news. Watch the movie on Friday, April 21 at 6 p.m. at the Enzian Theater.

Opening Night Party

Party hearty after the movie by chowing down on delectable dishes paired with cocktails during the opening-night festivities at the Enzian Theater. The film and party ticket is $140 and the party only is $125.

Take the film fete further during the Festival Block Party on Saturday, April 22 from 3-5 p.m. at the Winter Park Village’s fountain across from the Regal Cinema.  The festivities include free drinks and appetizers from select Winter Park Village restaurants and live entertainment. The free event is for Florida Film Festival ticket and pass holders only. Space is limited.

Winter Park Village

Feast on Florida’s homegrown farm-to-table goodness during Locally Fresh! on Sunday, April 23 from 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m. at the Enzian Theater. The freebie features films, area produce, cooking demonstrations and scrumptious samples.

Locally Fresh

Back to the Future

Travel to the 1950s in a DeLorean time machine during the classic Sci-Fi movie Back to the Future, starring Michael J. Fox, Lea Thompson and Christopher Lloyd on Sunday, April 23 at 7 p.m. The event includes a question-and-answer session with Thompson after the screening. Regular admission is sold out, but $125 meet-and-greet tickets are still available.

Lea Thompson

Actor Billy Crudup portrays a guy named FH, which is short for F**khead, who believes he can save people from fate while trying to understand the destructive passion he shares with his girlfriend Michelle in Jesus’ Son on Friday, April 28 at 7:30 p.m. The film was adapted from a collection of short stories by cult author Denis Johnson and features supporting cast members Jack Black, Denis Leary, Holly Hunter and Dennis Hopper. The event includes a question-and-answer session with Crudup after the screening. General admission is $50 and meet-and-greet tickets are $125.

Jesus' Son

Laugh out loud high in the sky during the comedic spoof Airplane! on Saturday, April 29 at 1:30 p.m. The film takes you on a journey with a PTSD-stricken fighter pilot Ted Striker (Robert Hays), stewardess/ex-girlfriend Elaine (Julie Hagerty) and a doctor (Leslie Nielsen) who have to land a Boeing 707 after the crew experiences food poisoning. The event includes a question-and-answer session with Hays and director David Zucker. The movie and guest appearance are on standby.

Airplane!

Additional fun flicks include director Eleanor Coppola’s Paris Can Wait, starring Alec Baldwin and Diane Lane. The movie takes Anne (Lane) a woman in her 50s on a midlife journey through France.

Paris Can Wait

New Neighbors features an African-American family who move to an all-white neighborhood. The mom decides to get to know her neighbors by distributing flyers about her sons.

New Neighbors

Pop-artist Andy Warhol’s famous “Brillo Box” sculpture cost one family a grand back in the 1960s and had a return on investment of more than $3 million decades later. Learn more by seeing the Brillo Box (3 Cents Off) documentary short during 3 X Real Documentary Shorts 1.

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Native Americans rock in the documentary Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked the World. The film features legendary guitarist Link Wray and other musicians.

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Pushing Dead is a film about an HIV-positive writer who is dropped from his insurance because he makes too much money (starring James Roday and Danny Glover).

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Animated short Fabricated showcases machines assembling and coming to life as creatures.

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Experience a hootenanny during Honky Tonk Heaven: Legend of the Broken Spoke. The documentary is about the boot-scooting Austin joint that has been serving its fill of music for more than 50 years.

Broken Spoke

Learn about Irishman Padraig O’Malley who is a renowned expert on conflict negotiation and has made an impact in Ireland, South Africa, Kosovo and Iraq during The Peacemaker.

The Peacemaker

Oscar-winning actress Viola Davis produced this funny film about a struggling actor working as a bathroom attendant at a popular LA nightclub during Night Shift.

Night Shift

Cassette tapes are making a comeback in the movie Cassette: A Documentary Mixedtape.

Cassette Tape

The Florida Film Festival closes with buxum babes who are fighting machines in the Russ Meyer classic film Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! on Sunday, April 30 at 9:30 p.m.

Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!

Individual film tickets are $9 for a matinee before 5 p.m. and $11 for a regular ticket after 5 p.m., packages are $50-$180 and passes are $99-$1,500 per person. For more information, including the Florida Film Festival schedule, visit floridafilmfestival.com.

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‘Badlands’ is Near and Dear to Actress Sissy Spacek’s Heart By Sandra Carr

 

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Academy Award-winning actress Sissy Spacek has had a cinematic connection with the big screen for more than 40 years. She won an Oscar for Best Actress in her portrayal of country star Loretta Lynn in the Coal Miner’s Daughter, a biographical film about the singer’s life. Spacek also has 60 acting credits, 85 nominations, 40 wins and six Oscar nominations under her belt.

Coal Miner's Daughter

The Florida Film Festival invited Spacek to be one of their celebrity guests and asked her which movie she would like to screen during the festival’s 25-year anniversary at the Enzian Theater in Maitland, Fla. Spacek selected the 1973 classic, independent film Badlands. She received her acting career break with the film, which is based on a modern day Bonnie and Clyde and their reckless exploits, co-starring Martin Sheen and directed by Terrence Malick.

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Spacek answered Enzian Theater president Henry Maldonado’s questions during his film introduction while sitting at a table in the audience.

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Spacek shared anecdotes about making Badlands during her question-and-answer session after the movie. One of those accounts was when she had told Malick that she was a majorette in high school. He bought her a Star Line Baton at a music store on Hollywood Blvd. in Los Angeles and asked her to demonstrate her baton-twirling skills. He loved her baton-twirling performance and decided to incorporate her majorette skills in the scene where Kit (Sheen) and Holly (Spacek) meet for the first time. The baton-twirling routine in the movie was the same one that she used to try out for a majorette in high school.

Baton Twirling Sissy Spacek

She also told the sold-out film’s audience that her voice-over narration in the movie was recorded in a tiny bedroom with blankets nailed to the walls.

Badlands gave Spacek her first real taste for film making and she’ll always cherish creating the movie. She also met her husband and production designer Jack Fisk during the filming of the movie. They just celebrated their 43-year wedding anniversary.

Spacek received an Academy-Award nomination for her telekinetic prom-queen role in the 1976 supernatural horror film Carrie, based on Stephen King’s novel of the same name.

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She’s currently portraying Sally Rayburn, the matriarch of a Florida Keys family that has dark secrets in the Netflix  dramatic thriller series Bloodline.

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I had an opportunity to ask Spacek about what appeals to her when reviewing a script and selecting a movie role. “It’s really a director’s medium, so the director is first and foremost. It’s also the overall project and the connection and understanding of  a character.”

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Learn more about Spacek’s career on imdb.com.

 

 

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Florida Film Festival Celebrates Silver Anniversary on the Big Screen By Sandra Carr

The Florida Film Festival continues to grow and shine on the big screen by featuring movies from around the globe during its 25-year anniversary at the Enzian Theater in Maitland, Fla.

The first film festival in 1992 featured actors Paul Newman, Henry Winkler and David Ogden Stiers and directors Oliver Stone, Robert Wise and Joel Schumacher.

Bringing Hollywood to Maitland has continued with actor appearances by Drew Barrymore, Dennis Hopper, Steve Buscemi, Christopher Walken, John Waters, Glenn Close, Jon Voight, Cloris Leachman, Susan Sarandon and Emma Stone over the years.

The flick fete has been listed as one of the 20 coolest film festivals by MovieMaker Magazine and one of the top 50 film festivals in the world by The Internet Movie Database (Imdb.com).

This year’s 10-day festival will feature more than 180 films from 36 countries, 59 female filmmakers and celebrity guests Sissy Spacek and Mark Duplass at the Enzian Theater and Regal Cinemas Winter Park Village Stadium 20 Movie Theater in Winter Park, Fla. from April 8-17, 2016.

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The juried film festival will include 20 feature and 67 short films in the American Independent Competition, which are eligible for up to three awards each: Grand Jury Award for best film in that category, a Special Jury Award given at the jury’s discretion for exceptional achievements, and an Audience Award determined by audience votes for Narrative Feature, Documentary Feature, Best Short Film and Best Midnight Short. International films are also eligible for Audience Awards for Best International Feature and Best International Short.

The opening-night movie is Lobster, a foreign film about bachelors having 45 days to find a mate or be transformed into the animal of their choice. The movie, starring Colin Farrell and Rachel Weisz, premieres at the Regal Cinemas Winter Park Village Stadium 20 Movie Theater on Friday, April 8 at 7 p.m.

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After the movie, celebrate during the opening-night party from 8 p.m.-2 a.m. at the Enzian Theater. Participating restaurants include K Restaurant, ShishCo Mezze & Grill, Mediterranean Blue, Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress and other local eateries. The opening-night film and party is $110, film only is $25 and party only is $95.

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Actor Mark Duplass takes us on a journey while transporting a purple armchair that he bought off of eBay for his dad in The Puffy Chair on Sunday, April 10 at 7 p.m. at the Enzian Theater. A question-and-answer session will follow. The movie and guest appearance are on standby.

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The 1973 film Badlands (starring Sissy Spacek and Martin Sheen) features a modern day Bonnie and Clyde and their reckless exploits on Friday, April 15 from 7:30-11 p.m. at the Enzian Theater. Academy Award-winning actress Sissy Spacek will be participating in a question-and-answer discussion after the movie screening. The movie and guest appearance are on standby.

Badlands

Other fun flicks include Raiders!: The Story of the Greatest Fan Film Ever Made, a documentary about three kids who filmed scenes of the Raiders of the Lost Ark in 1982 but didn’t finish one scene until 30 years later.

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Actor Jessie Eisenberg stars in Louder Than Bombs, a film about topics and issues families can’t discuss.

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Hunky Dory, is a poignant, touching drama about bisexual, aging glam-rocker Sydney who struggles to take care of his his 11-year-old son Georgie while continuing to pursue his dreams.

Hunky Dory

The Babushkas of Chernobyl features women who return to their poisoned homes after the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

Babushkas

Got game? Apparently, Tim McVey thought so when he achieved a billion-point score playing the video game Nibbler in Ottumwa, Iowa back in 1984. McVey’s record remained untouched for nearly 25 years. McVey learned in 2008 that an Italian teenager claimed to have the highest Nibbler score a few months after his record. In the documentary Man vs. Snake: The Long and Twisted Tale of Nibbler, McVey decides to beat the record and regain his legacy.

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Joseph Newman thought his electromagnet-motor invention was the solution for eliminating the need for oil, coal and nuclear power. His invention was making progress until the U.S. Patent Office caused a delay. The documentary Newman discusses how the inventor thought his electromagnet-motor was going to save the planet.

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An aspiring singer is a nobody one minute and a YouTube star the next in the film Presenting Princess Shaw. 

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Syl Johnson: Any Way the Wind Blows explores the life, challenges, lawsuits and rediscovery of this 1960s Chicago R&B musician.

Syl Johnson

In the documentary Pickle, a couple adopts a deformed fish and takes care of other pets and critters at their homestead.

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Drag queens step up their game in Queer Habits. The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence are a group of drag-queen nuns committed to community service, promoting joy and ridding the world of guilt.

Queer Habits

The Florida Film Festival closes on Sunday, April 17 at 9:30 p.m. with the classic Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? The movie is celebrating its 50-year anniversary this year and remains on the “Best Films of All Time” list. The film is one of two movies to be nominated in every Oscar category and received five Oscars, including Elizabeth Taylor being honored with the Academy Award for Best Actress and Sandy Dennis with the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.

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Individual film tickets are $9 for a matinee before 5 p.m. and $11 for a regular ticket after 5 p.m., passes are $50-$180 and packages are $99-$1,500 per person. For more information, including the Florida Film Festival schedule, visit floridafilmfestival.com.

 

 

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Actor Bob Balaban Discusses Acting Career at Florida Film Festival By Sandra Carr

Director Robert Altman’s Academy Award-winning film Gosford Park is a period piece about the rich and their servants during a British weekend retreat and party in 1932. Character actor Bob Balaban produced and portrayed an American vegetarian filmmaker Morris Weissman in the movie. The film was nominated for seven Academy Awards and won one Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay.

My husband Dan and I attended an evening with Bob Balaban, featuring Gosford Park during the 24th Annual Florida Film Festival.

My husband Dan and I attended an evening with Bob Balaban, featuring Gosford Park during the 24th Annual Florida Film Festival.

Gosford Park

Gosford Park

The film was screened during the 24th Annual Florida Film Festival before a question-and-answer session with Balaban. Altman and Balaban came up with the idea for the film and brought it to life with an ensemble cast, including Academy Award-winning actress Helen Mirren (head servant Mrs. Wilson) and Maggie Smith who portrayed the wealthy Constance Trentham and is now Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess of Grantham on Downton Abbey.

An Evening with Bob Balaban Photo by: Sandra Carr

An Evening with Bob Balaban
Photo by: Sandra Carr

Balaban had been reading Agatha Christie murder mysteries and came up with an idea for a movie, which became Gosford Park. He thought Altman would be the perfect director for the movie. Plus, Altman had a vast body of work but had never directed a period film during his career. Balaban said he knew it would be interesting because of Altman’s “lack of interest in formal structure.” Altman agreed to direct the film but he wanted “to do a murder mystery about poor people in England because he really didn’t like rich people.” He felt “everyone should be equal and didn’t like a division between rich and poor and the powerful and non-powerful.”

An Evening with Bob Balaban, Featuring Gosford Park. Photo by: Sandra Carr

An Evening with Bob Balaban, Featuring Gosford Park.
Photo by: Sandra Carr

Balaban and Altman hired Julian Fellowes to write the script. In six weeks time, he returned to Balaban and Altman with the first 70 pages of the screenplay, which won him an Academy Award.

Last minute changes also added to the movie’s story and ending. Altman decided to have Jeremy Northam portray Welsh composer and actor Ivor Novello. Northam learned how to play the piano and sang in the film. Altman also decided to change the ending by revealing that Mrs. Wilson and Mrs. Croft (head servant) were sisters.

Besides acting, directing and producing Gosford Park, Balaban has a movie theater and film-making heritage. His mom Elenore acted under the surname Barry and his dad Elmer Balaban owned movie theaters in Chicago and throughout the Midwest, and developed an early version of pay-TV. His uncle Barney Balaban was also the chairman of Paramount Pictures.

Bob Balaban participates in a Q&A during the Florida Film Festival. Photo by: Sandra Carr

Bob Balaban participates in a Q&A during the Florida Film Festival.
Photo by: Sandra Carr

He was Linus in the off-Broadway production of You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown but his first movie role was portraying a young student in MIdnight Cowboy.

Bob Balaban and Jon Voight in a scene in Midnight Cowboy.

Bob Balaban and Jon Voight in Midnight Cowboy.

At age 69, he has portrayed more than 100 characters, including the interpreter David Laughlin in Steven Spielberg’s science-fiction film Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

Bob Balaban and François Truffaut in Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

Bob Balaban and François Truffaut in Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

He has been in Christopher Guest movies, including Waiting for Guffman, Best in Show, A Mighty Wind and For Your Consideration.

Bob Balaban as Jonathan Steinbloom in A Mighty Wind.

Bob Balaban as Jonathan Steinbloom in A Mighty Wind.

The actor is also renowned as the character Russell Dalrymple, the President of NBC who was obsessed with Elaine on Seinfeld.

Bob Balaban portraying Russell Dalrymple, the President of NBC on Seinfeld.

Bob Balaban portraying Russell Dalrymple, the President of NBC on Seinfeld.

He has also had the opportunity to appear in Woody Allen’s Deconstructing Harry and Fading Gigolo.

Woody Allen and Bob Balaban in Deconstructing Harry.

Woody Allen and Bob Balaban in Deconstructing Harry.

Balaban was the narrator in Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom and the Ritz Imperial concierge in The Grand Budapest Hotel. I had an opportunity to ask Balaban about what it was like working with this writer, director and producer and why his quirky, signature style was so unique.

Wes Anderson's Moonrise Kingdom.

Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom.

“I have been lucky during my lengthy film career,” he said. “I have worked with some amazing people and stumbled upon some wonderful directors. I have always loved Wes’ movies. I was thrilled when he asked me to be in Moonrise Kingdom. I loved the script, my part and working with Wes. He’s a brilliant and unique director. There’s a real ballet going on with Wes’ shots and the actions in them. It’s so formal but his films are life filled to me. He has a love of children and respects the dignity of all sorts of people in is movies. He thrives in chaos but his movie making is very organized with a vision that he’s able to get on the screen.”

Learn more about Bob Balaban’s career on imdb.com.

Sandra Carr and Bob Balaban at the 24th Annual Florida Film Festival. Photo by: Dan Carr

Sandra Carr and Bob Balaban at the 24th Annual Florida Film Festival.
Photo by: Dan Carr

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Films and Food Fuel Annual Fest By Sandra Carr

Central Florida’s nonprofit, alternative and independent cinema, the Enzian Theater in Maitland, Fla., displays a picturesque, old-Florida ambiance surrounded by shady, weeping oak trees draped with Spanish moss. Besides its Southern charm, the theater becomes the epicenter of movie mania during its annual Florida Film Festival. This year, the festival is celebrating its 24-year anniversary at the Enzian Theater and Regal Cinemas Winter Park Village Stadium 20 Movie Theater in Winter Park, Fla. from April 10-19, 2015.

The flick fete has been listed as one of the 20 coolest film festivals by MovieMaker Magazine and one of the top 50 film festivals in the world by The Internet Movie Database (Imdb.com). Past celebrity guests have included Oliver Stone, Drew Barrymore, Dennis Hopper, Steve Buscemi, Christopher Walken, John Waters, Glenn Close, Jon Voight, Susan Sarandon and Emma Stone.

I'm interviewing actor Dennis Hopper for WCPX Channel 6 during the Florida Film Festival in June 1994. Photo by: Jim Leatherman

A blast from the past! I’m interviewing actor Dennis Hopper for WCPX Channel 6 during the Florida Film Festival in June 1994.
Photo by: Jim Leatherman

This year’s film festival features more than 170 movies, including animated shorts, documentaries, spotlights, narrative features and shorts and special screenings.

24th Annual Florida Film Festival

24th Annual Florida Film Festival

The opening-night film is Welcome to Me, a movie featuring funny lady Kristen Wiig portraying a woman with a borderline personality disorder that wins $86 million in the lottery and decides to buy her own talk show. The movie premieres at the Regal Cinemas Winter Park Village Stadium 20 Movie Theater on Friday, April 10 at 7 p.m.

Welcome to Me Image courtesy: Florida Film Festival

Welcome to Me
Image courtesy: Florida Film Festival

After the movie, indulge in a foodie feast during the opening-night party at the Enzian Theater. Participating bars and restaurants include BRIO Tuscan Grille, K Restaurant, Swine & Sons, Soco and Rogue Pub.

Opening-night film and party is $110, film only is $25 and party only is $95. The opening-night film is on standby.

The opening-night party features a foodie feast.

The opening-night party features food, glorious food! Image courtesy: Florida Film Festival

Learn about local, farm-fresh eats during the FFF at the Enzian Theater on Saturday, April 11 from 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. The homegrown event will feature Lake Meadow Natural Farms, Palmetto Creek Farms, Olde Hearth Bread Co. and the East End Market. Sampling and cooking demonstrations are included in the $12 admission.

Local farms are keeping it fresh.  Image courtesy: Florida Film Festival

Local farms are keeping it fresh.
Image courtesy: Florida Film Festival

Take farm to table further with the free Locally Fresh! Farmers Market on Eden Bar’s lawn on Saturday, April 11 from noon-2:30 p.m. Folks can purchase produce from area farmers and vendors.

Image courtesy: Florida Film Festival

Image courtesy: Florida Film Festival

Celebrity appearances include actor Bob Balaban during a screening of Gosford Park on Sunday, April 12 at 7:30 p.m. The actor is renowned as the character Russell Dalrymple, the President of NBC who was obsessed with Elaine on Seinfeld. Tickets are $25.

"Gosford Park"  Image courtesy: Florida Film Festival

Gosford Park
Image courtesy: Florida Film Festival

Actor Sam Rockwell takes us to the Moon during his question-and-answer session on Friday, April 17 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $25. The movie and guest appearance are on standby.

Actor Sam Rockwell portrays Sam Bell in "Moon."  Image courtesy: Florida Film Festival

Actor Sam Rockwell portrays Sam Bell in Moon.
Image courtesy: Florida Film Festival

Other fabulous flicks include Homeless, a movie directed by Florida State University graduate Clay Hassler, about a teenage boy, portrayed by newcomer Michael McDowell, who lives in a shelter and is trying to get his life back on track after his grandmother passes away.

Homeless Image courtesy: Florida Film Festival

Homeless
Image courtesy: Florida Film Festival

Embark on an adventure while looking for the person behind a popular Chinese delicacy in The Search for General Tso.

The Search of General Tso's Chicken Image courtesy: Florida Film Festival

The Search for General Tso
Image courtesy: Florida Film Festival

Pump yourself up with this documentary about bodybuilder, actor and rocker Jon Mikl Thor during his comeback in I Am Thor.

I Am Thor Image courtesy: Florida Film Festival

I Am Thor
Image courtesy: Florida Film Festival

Watch 500 Days of Summer, a romantic comedy starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel about a dysfunctional relationship that’s a sure failure for free on the Enzian Theater’s lawn on Monday, April 13 at 8 p.m.

500 Days of Summer Image courtesy: Florida Film Festival

500 Days of Summer
Image courtesy: Florida Film Festival

3 1/2 Minutes explores the shooting and death of Jordan Davis at a gas station in Jacksonville, Fla. and the State of Florida’s Stand Your Ground self-defense laws.

3 1/2 Minutes Image courtesy: Florida Film Festival

3 1/2 Minutes
Image courtesy: Florida Film Festival

Freebie alert! Watch the dark Donnie Darko on Wednesday, April 15 at 8 p.m. and the sweet Amelie on Thursday, April 16 at 8 p.m. on the Enzian Theater’s lawn.

Donnie Darko Image courtesy: Florida Film Festival

Donnie Darko
Image courtesy: Florida Film Festival

Amelie Image courtesy: Florida Film Festival

Amelie
Image courtesy: Florida Film Festival

Music makes it mark during the FFF this year. Experience the D.C. punk-rock scene and mosh pits in Salad Days: A Decade of Punk in Washington, D.C. (1980-90). Honky-tonk and country musician Billy Mize created the Bakersfield sound and chose family over music during the peak of his career. Learn more about this legendary musician in Billy Mize and the Bakersfield Sound.

Salad Days: A Decade of Punk in Washington, D.C. (1980-90). Image courtesy: Florida Film Festival

Salad Days: A Decade of Punk in Washington, D.C. (1980-90)
Image courtesy: Florida Film Festival

Billy Mize and the Bakersfield Sound Image courtesy: Florida Film Festival

Billy Mize and the Bakersfield Sound
Image courtesy: Florida Film Festival

Get your movie on by watching comedies, dramas, panel discussions, parties and more during this year’s Florida Film Festival. Individual film tickets are $9 for a matinee before 5 p.m. and $11 for a regular ticket after 5 p.m. and passes and packages are $99-$1,500 per person. For more information, including the Florida Film Festival schedule, visit http://www.floridafilmfestival.com.

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