Flagler Film Festival turns 5

Exclusive to MeierMovies.com, January 8, 2018

The Hilton Garden Inn, in Palm Coast, Florida, will host the fifth annual Flagler Film Festival, January 12-14.

The festival, which takes place in the hotel’s convention room, will screen 55 independent films (nine features and 46 shorts). Though the event is not a big one – drawing a small, local crowd – it’s considered a good networking experience for Central Florida moviemakers.

Speaking of the Sunshine State, the festival will screen 16 films from Florida filmmakers, including ones from Orlando filmmakers Fred Zara, TL Westgate, Dale Metz, Michelle Brown and Christina Carmona.

In addition to the local flavor, the festival features a surprisingly large number of international films, including You Go to My Head (a Belgium/French/German feature drama shot in Morocco), Thou Art Dublin (an Irish documentary feature) and F**K It, It’s Over (a British documentary feature).

Student and first-time filmmakers hail from the American Film Academy (Lawman), Florida State University (The Wednesday Sessions, Caretaker, Jeremy), Miami Dade College (Thicker Than Paint), Full Sail University (Magic Mouse) and Florida Film Academy (The Pen).

Short films will be presented in five blocks spread across the three days. Block themes include “anything goes/light,” “horror/thriller/anything goes/dark,” “anything goes/drama/dark,” drama and documentary.

A single block costs $5 in advance while a one-day pass is $10 in advance. An all-festival pass is $25 in advance. Tickets are also available at the door and cost $7 for a single block, $14 for an all-day pass and $35 for an all-festival pass.

For more information, visit http://flaglerfilmfestival.com/.

Now if the festival could just get the hotel to give steeper discounts to festival-goers ($105 for a room is a bit ridiculous) and keep their bar open all day for the filmmakers, everyone would be a bit happier. Still, Sunday night’s awards ceremony and party is usually fun. And if you get tired of the lack of amenities at the Hilton Garden Inn, the Funky Pelican oceanside bar and restaurant in Flagler Beach is just five miles away.

 

Festival in review

The fifth annual Flagler Film Festival concluded on Sunday night with an impressive block of dramatic short films and a cake-and-champagne-filled awards ceremony hosted by Festival Director Kathryn Barry and Orlando filmmaker Christina Carmona (who picked up an award of her own for directing the best “micro-short,” Blink). Though I saw just 26 of the 55 films, several of those are worthy of mention.

A Soldier’s Rest (3 stars on 0-5 scale; winner of the award for best dramatic short), marks an impressive film debut for producer/writer/actor Shane Willis. Centered on a military veteran’s dark deed of revenge, the 14-minute movie, which is directed by Jeff Rose, is well acted and paced, and deliciously twisty.

Even better is the 17-minute Birthday Cake (4 stars), directed by Brantly Jackson Watts. Though the domestic-abuse story is rather conventional, it’s presented in an unexpectedly poetic manner and buoyed by strong acting and editing.

Among documentary shorts, The Fourth Kingdom (by Adan Aliaga and Alex Lora) and Five Awake (by Susan Willis and Donna Dees) – both 3 stars – were worth a watch. But the best movie I saw all weekend was The Shepherd, a 22-minute Dutch documentary originally created for television by Joust van der Wiel. An emotionally moving yet understated glimpse at 92-year-old doctor and Holocaust survivor Nico van Hasselt, the short has more to say about human compassion that most films four times its length.

Copyright 2018 © Cameron Meier