Hands down, the best-known film event in town is the annual Florida Film Festival. Three years ago, the Orlando Film Festival made its debut and claimed fall as its season, coming at the heels of the then-fledgling Global Peace Film Festival, which finished its sixth annual screenings last week. All three festivals have strong identities.
- OFF (Nov. 5-9): It's still reaching for a Hollywood East vision, dressed in glitz; the best reason to attend is because the tickets are free and the bookers have serious Hollywood connections — and Heather Henson's puppet films also make a debut. (www.orlandofilmfest.com)
- FFF (March 27-April 5, 2009): An insider, top-notch competition of independent documentaries and features plus an international reputation and network. (www.floridafilmfestival.com)
- GPFF (Sept. 22-27, 2009): This one is sticking to its mission to bring international perspectives — both humble and high-end — on the subject of peace. (www.peacefilmfest.org)
This year, a number of other independent film festivals catering to niche audiences occupy the fall calendar. Fans of bloody thrills can start the countdown for the three-day Freak Show Horror Film Festival (Oct. 17-19) tucked into the highly anticipated Spooky Empire Halloween horror convention. Malcolm McDowell (A Clockwork Orange and Heroes) and Elvira top the celebrity list, along with George Romero, who'll be celebrating the 30th anniversary reunion of Dawn of the Dead. (www.freakshowfilmfest.com)
On the multi-culti front is the 14th annual South Asian Film Festival (Sept. 27-29), themed "Beyond Bollywood" (www.enzian.org). Another grass-roots organization jumps into year two: the juried Orlando Hispanic Film Festival (Oct. 10-12) offers accessible Latin immersion (ohfilmfestival.com). The Central Florida Jewish Film Festival (Nov. 16 and 17) continues its balance of contemporary and historical selections (www.enzian.org).
The Gay Orlando Film Festival (Oct. 25-26) boasts a built-in audience to keep it growing (www.enzian.org). Finally, independent filmmakers and their audience head to the Brouhaha Film & Video Showcase (Dec. 6-7), now in its 17th year (www.enzian.org).
— Lindy T. Shepherd
Sept. 8-Oct. 17
Hurricane on the Bayou Documentary reveals the deterioration of the wetlands that once protected southern Louisiana (and New Orleans) from floods. Various times Thursday-Friday. Orlando Science Center, 777 E. Princeton St.; $21-$23; (407) 514-2000; www.osc.org.
Sept. 16-Nov. 18
Film Forum: War, Water, Wealth and Health Weekly screening of films about the issues to be faced by the next administration; 6 pm Tuesday, 1 pm Wednesday. Southeast Museum of Photography, Daytona Beach College, Daytona Beach; free; (386) 506-4475; www.smponline.com.
Sept. 27-Sept. 29
Beyond Bollywood: The South Asian Film Festival Documentaries and feature films put the spotlight on contemporary India and South Asia. Various times Saturday-Monday. Enzian Theater, 1300 S. Orlando Ave., Maitland; $10-$35; (407) 629-0054; www.enzian.org.
Sept. 30-Nov. 25
Cult Classics Vertigo (Sept. 30), Beetlejuice (Oct. 14), John Carpenter's The Thing (Oct. 28), Dr. Strangelove (Nov. 11), Tron (Nov. 25). 9:30 pm Tuesday. Enzian Theater, 1300 S. Orlando Ave., Maitland; $5; (407) 629-0054; www.enzian.org.
Oct. 3-Nov. 7
Date Night at Leu Gardens Picnic amidst the flora, and watch romance classics: Ghost (Oct. 3) and Dirty Dancing (Nov. 7). 6 pm Friday. Harry P. Leu Gardens, 1920 N. Forest Ave.; free-$7; (407) 246-2620; www.leugardens.org.
Note by Note: The Making of Steinway #L1037 Award-winning doc about the creation of a grand piano, from forest floor to concert hall. 1 pm Sunday. Enzian Theater, 1300 S. Orlando Ave., Maitland; $7; (407) 629-0054; www.enzian.org.
Por sus propios ojos Award-winning film from Argentina about students who set out to document women with family in jail, for UCF Latin American Cultural Festival. 6:15 pm Tuesday. Enzian Theater, 1300 S. Orlando Ave., Maitland; $7-$9; (407) 629-0054; www.enzian.org.
Oct. 8-Dec. 10
Kino Films Series Films about politics and war: Primary (Oct. 8), The War Room (Oct. 15). 6:30 pm Wednesday. Southeast Museum of Photography, Daytona Beach College, Daytona Beach; free; (386) 506-4475; www.smponline.com.
Oct. 9-Dec. 5
Popcorn Flicks Free outdoor screenings: Young Frankenstein (Oct. 9), Labyrinth (Nov. 13) and Gremlins (Dec. 5). 8 pm Thursday, Friday. Shady Park, New England and Pennsylvania avenues, Winter Park; free; (407) 629-0054; www.enzian.org.
Oct. 10-Oct. 12
Orlando Hispanic Film Festival Competitive presentation of Latin American feature films and documentaries, as well as panel discussions and other festivities. Various times Friday-Sunday. Premiere Cinemas 14 at the Fashion Square Mall, 3201 E. Colonial Drive; $8-$250; (407) 894-0599; ohfilmfestival.com.
Oct. 16-Oct. 23
Greater Orlando Christian Film Festival Family and children's films based on Christian themes, with special guests and discussions. Various times Thursday-Thursday. Winter Park Village, Regal Cinemas, 510 N. Orlando Ave., Winter Park; free; (407) 628-0035; www.christianfilmfestival.org.
Oct. 16-Oct. 19
Freak Show Horror Film Festival Part of Spooky Empire Screamfest 2008, indie scare-makers raise hairs, and George A. Romero gets a lifetime achievement award to honor the 30th anniversary of Dawn of the Dead. Various times Friday-Sunday. Wyndham Orlando Resort, 8001 International Drive; $25-$175; (954) 839-0585. www.freakshowfilmfest.com.
Oct. 18-Dec. 30
Grand Canyon Adventure River rafting and the majesty of this wonder of the world combine in film about conservation. 10 am-9 pm Monday-Sunday. Orlando Science Center, 777 E. Princeton St.; $21-$23; (407) 514-2000; www.osc.org.
Oct. 25-Oct. 26
Gay Orlando Film Festival Filmmakers capture the GLBT community as well as appeal to all movie fans. Various times Saturday-Sunday. Enzian Theater, 1300 S. Orlando Ave., Maitland; $15-$50; (407) 629-0054; www.enzian.org.
Nov. 6-Nov. 9
2008 Orlando Film Festival Screenings of independent, children's and short films, and filmmaker Q&As; also this year, the debut puppet-film program. Various times Thursday-Sunday. CityArts Factory, 29 S. Orange Ave.; free; (407) 648-7060; www.orlandofilmfest.com.
Nov. 16-Nov. 17
Central Florida Jewish Film Festival Films that look at historical and contemporary Jewish issues. Various times Sunday-Monday. Enzian Theater, 1300 S. Orlando Ave., Maitland; various prices; (407) 629-0054; www.enzian.org.
Dec. 6-Dec. 7
Brouhaha Film & Video Showcase Annual forum for Florida film and video artists. Various times Saturday-Sunday. Enzian Theater, 1300 S. Orlando Ave., Maitland; various prices; (407) 629-0054; email@example.com