Madison Wolfe and Jennifer Morrison star in "The Tattooed Heart" / Photo courtesy Orlando Film Festival
The 14th annual Orlando Film Festival continues through Thursday at the Cobb Plaza Cinema Café downtown.
This year’s event is screening 317 films (including features and shorts), according to Executive Director Daniel Springen. Though that total is down slightly from previous years, OFF is still one of the largest film festivals in North America, judging by number of movies. Quantity doesn’t necessarily equal quality, however, so the best plan is to purchase a one-day pass for $20 (or an all-festival pass for $100) and then pick your films wisely.
The most highly regarded feature this year has been writer-director Taika Waititi’s JoJo Rabbit, which received its Florida premiere on Saturday night. Surprisingly, the house was only about half full, but the audience was overwhelmingly appreciative, and rightfully so, as the film is an unexpectedly mature and refreshingly eclectic mix of comedy and drama. The film won’t screen again at the festival, but you can catch it when it gets a general release in Orlando on Nov. 8. – and look for my review at OrlandoWeekly.com.
If you want some short recommendations, literally, you can’t go wrong with the “Suspense & Thrillers 2” group, screening for the final time on Wednesday at 2 p.m. Comprised of six short movies, it’s the smartest and most professional block I saw at the festival. The best of the bunch is writer-director Raymond Wood’s Cells, a 12-minute, edge-of-your-seat thriller with both a twist and a social message. But just as emotionally gripping is The Tattooed Heart, directed by Sheldon Schwartz and starring Jennifer Morrison as an instructor at a juvenile-detention facility who forms a unique, and dangerous, bond with one of her students.
Also worth a watch is the “Sci-Fi 1” block, screening again on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. Though not all the ideas in the five films are entirely original, most of these mini-movies have something aesthetically interesting to say. And if you’re lucky, you might meet some of the filmmakers, which is, after all, one of the top reasons for attending the festival.
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