Changes coming to Orlando’s film slams

Photo courtesy Enzian Theater

From The Orlando Weekly, November 15, 2019

January will mark a new beginning for Orlando’s film slam programs – both of them.

The Enzian Theater will continue its slam (a showcase and competition for student, independent, low-budget and no-budget short movies from Florida filmmakers) on January 19, but it will now be known as Central Florida Film Slam (CFFS). And a week later, Jen Vargas, former host and programmer of the Enzian’s slam, will host her own event at the Orlando Museum of Art.

The Enzian’s slam will again be supervised by Enzian Programming Coordinator Tim Anderson, who hosted and programmed the slam from 2009 to 2015. Enzian staff member Lorraine Sovern will serve as new host and lead programmer while fellow staff member Paige Babbage will fill the second of three programmer slots, the Enzian announced yesterday. The third will be filled on a rotating basis by student interns. In addition, the Enzian has formed a CFFS advisory board that will include nearly a dozen industry professionals, including former Florida Film Festival programming coordinator Clementine Leger.

Perhaps the biggest change is that one film from among the six monthly winners will now automatically be accepted into the Florida Film Festival. The other five will automatically advance to the Brouhaha Film & Video Showcase selection committee. That doesn’t guarantee that those films will be accepted into November’s Brouhaha – as they were before the Enzian changed that policy last year – but it does mean filmmakers can avoid submitting films themselves and paying a submission fee.

In conjunction with CFFS, the Enzian will offer production grants totaling $2,000 to local filmmakers during 2020 and also provide access to informational sessions and workshops designed to teach filmmakers about the world of film festivals.

Submission to CFFS will continue to be free, and audiences will continue to select the winning film for each of the six monthly events.

“I am proudest that, combined, these changes represent a total about-face from the previous strategy,” Anderson said, in a prepared statement. “We’re moving from merely showcasing local films to an all-inclusive program designed to showcase, develop and prepare local filmmakers for the greatest possibility of success in the future. The fact that a film can now move directly from CFFS to the Florida Film Festival’s Florida Shorts program is huge. That alone should be both a challenge and a benefit to filmmakers, encouraging them to step up their game.”

The Orlando Museum of Art will host Vargas’s FilmSlam. (photo courtesy OMA)

Back in 2015, Anderson handed the hosting and programming duties to Vargas, who ran it until the Enzian parted ways with her earlier this year. Upon her departure, Vargas pledged to continue hosting and programming her own version. And earlier this month, she followed through on that promise by announcing that her slam would be held 10 times a year, as the Enzian’s slam used to be. Her event will launch on January 26 at the Orlando Museum of Art’s SunTrust Auditorium, with monthly winners being automatically accepted into Mount Dora’s Central Florida Film Festival (CenFlo), which is scheduled for January 2021.

Vargas is marketing her program as the one, true slam in metro Orlando and the rightful heir to the 15-year tradition that started at the Downtown Media Arts Center (DMAC) in 2005 and moved, one year later, to the Enzian. Indeed, she is using the original, one-word “FilmSlam” name and claims that the Enzian is copying her event, not the other way around. But neither the Enzian nor Vargas owns the trademark to either “FilmSlam” or “Film Slam,” which means both can legally operate their own version, unless the real owners of the “FilmSlam” trademark (the Cleveland International Film Festival) have something to say about it.

“FilmSlam is excited to return for its 15th season on January 26, at our new home, the Orlando Museum of Art,” Vargas says. “Filmmakers will have the opportunity to screen their work 10 months out of the year. Each month’s audience-vote winner will win an automatic screening during the 15th annual Central Florida Film Festival, a cool trophy and other opportunities to screen with our local film-festival partners!”

For more information about the Enzian’s slam, visit And to learn more about Vargas’s program, check out its Facebook page.

© 2019 Orlando Weekly / MeierMovies, LLC