The Enzian Theater is Central Florida’s only full-time, nonprofit alternative cinema. Along with first-run independent features, Enzian offers a variety of special events including the nationally recognized Florida Film Festival which has been a staple in the area for more than a quarter century.

“The Tiedtke family started the Enzian Theater in 1985 championing the belief that ‘Film Is Art,’” says Valerie Cisneros, Enzian Theater’s marketing manager. “In the early ‘90s they decided to start a film festival, the Florida Film Festival, and it has been hosted at the Enzian since its inception 27 years ago.”

With more than 5,000 active film festivals around the world every year, the Florida Film Festival holds the distinct honor of being one of only a handful that are Academy Award-qualifying in all three Oscar shorts categories: Animated Short Film, Live Action Short Film and Documentary Short Subject.

“What that means is that any short film that is in competition that falls into any of the three categories and wins a grand jury prize is automatically eligible to be nominated for an Oscar the following year,” Cisneros says. “Some of the big film festivals that everyone has heard of don’t even have the Oscar accreditation in all categories like we do. That is just a testament to how strong our programming is and how thorough we are looking at all of our submissions.”

Being a prestigious film festival that could lead a filmmaker to the coveted Oscar means that the Florida Film Festival receives a lot of submissions each year, and 2018 was no exception. The five three-person committees received 1,994 films between August and December 2017 and, after watching every single one of them, selected 183 films to be a part of this year’s festival.

“It’s a pretty rigorous process,” Cisnero says. “They start watching the films, starting in September, every single day until the end of the year. Come January they sit down as a team and they argue for hours over which films were the best of the best. Once the committees have selected the number of films for each category, then our programming team goes after those films and sends the filmmakers an acceptance package.”

Of the 183 cinematic selections, 18 of them are LGBTQ films, which we have gathered for you. Some may make you laugh, or make you cry. Some (like the documentary short on selling used underwear over the internet) may even make you think WTF? But they all will make see why the Florida Film Festival carries the weight that it does.

 

“A Kid Like Jake”

Live Action Feature Film

April 12, 4:15 p.m. and April 14, 6:45 p.m.

A Brooklyn couple, played by Claire Danes and Jim Parsons, are at odds on how to address their son Jake’s nonconforming gender identity after his preschool director (Octavia Spencer) points out that Jake’s love of dresses, fairy tales and princesses may not just be a phase. “A Kid Like Jake” is a dramedy directed by trans filmmaker Silas Howard and is written for the screen by Daniel Pearle, based on his play of the same name.

 

“Blood For Blood”

Live Action Documentary Short

April 15, 12:00 p.m.

“Blood For Blood” is an eight-minute documentary short that played last year at the Enzian Theater’s FilmSlam and Brouhaha Film & Theater Showcase. The film looks at Orlando’s response after the Pulse shooting as Stigma Tattoo Bar raises money for the victims’ families with community-inspired tattoos “shedding blood for the victims whose blood was shed.”

 

“Do I Have Boobs Now?”

Live Action Documentary Short

April 13, 5:30 p.m. and April 15, 12:15 p.m.

This international short submission from Canada was in part inspired by the social media movement #FreeTheNipple. An official 2017 selection for the Vancouver Queer Film Festival, “Do I Have Boobs Yet?” is a documentary short that follows a transgender activist as she challenges social media censorship by posting photos of her transitioning body.

 

“Fran This Summer”

Live Action Short Film

April 8, 2:30 p.m. and April 12, 4:30 p.m.

A day at the beach tests the relationship of teen lovebirds Francis and Angie, played by Zenobia Teague and Emily Bessa, as Fran begins her transition from male to female in this live action short film.

 

“Getting Naked: A Burlesque Story”

Live Action Documentary Feature

April 8, 9:15 p.m. and April 11, 9:30 p.m.

Those in the Central Florida area who are fans of The Venue’s “Ladies and Lady Boys of the Peek-A-Boo Lounge” know how sultry and seductive the world of burlesque can be. “Getting Naked: A Burlesque Story” peels back that curtain and explores the subculture of New York City’s free-range, neo-burlesque scene. The film follows four female performers—from their homes to the stage—as they discover a newly liberated identity and free their inner freak.

 

“In A Heartbeat”

Animated Short Film

April 15, 12:00 p.m.

“In A Heartbeat” was a viral sensation when it was released on YouTube in July 2017. The award-winning animated short has racked up more than 35 million views and, based on the more than 300,000 comments, made thousands tear up at this adorable ginger boy is too shy to confess his love to another boy in his school. What will he do when his heart takes matters into its own hands? The animated short was created by openly gay filmmakers Esteban Bravo and Beth David (both named to Watermark’s 2017 Most Remarkable People list) when they were students at the Ringling College of Art and Design in Sarasota and played at the Enzian Theater’s Brouhaha Film & Theater Showcase last year.

 

“Iris”

Live Action Short Film

April 13, 5:30 p.m. and April 15, 12:15 p.m.

“Iris” is an international live action short film about an eye patch, a bike seat and purple eye shadow. Gabrielle Demers’ sensual coming-of-age story looks at a young girl coming to terms with her sexuality.

 

“Life After”

Live Action Short Film

April 7, 4:00 p.m. and April 10, 7:15 p.m.

“Life After” looks at how a single mother and Indian immigrant living in Queens handles the death of her only child who passes away unexpectedly. Choosing to learn about her daughter’s life in Manhattan, the mother is forced to examine a part of her child that she had tried to ignore: her sexual orientation.

 

“Locating Silver Lake”

Live Action Feature Film

April 7, 6:15 p.m. and April 13, 3:45 p.m.

After getting dumped by his girlfriend at graduation, writer-wannabe Daniel (played by Josh Peck of “Drake & Josh” fame) moves to Los Angeles to follow his dreams. Once there he encounters a collection of queer characters including charismatic Seth (Finn Wittrock of “American Horror Story”) and falls for Seth’s friend Talya (Aubrey Peeples of TV’s “Nashville”). “Locating Silver Lake” recalls those 20-something, angst-filled films of the ‘90s like “Reality Bites,” “Empire Records” and “Clerks” that leave you wondering how you ever navigated those post-college pitfalls. Also of note, Peeple’s (who is from Central Florida) will be in attendance.

 

“Men Don’t Whisper”

Live Action Short Film

April 8, 4:45 p.m. and April 12, 9:00 p.m.

After being emasculated, a gay couple (played by Jordan Firstman and Charles Rogers of TV’s “Search Party”) decide to do the most masculine thing they can think of —bed a pair of female co-workers at a corporate sales conference—in this raunchy and hilarious live action short.

 

“Scotty And The Secret History Of Hollywood”

Live Action Documentary Feature

April 10, 9:30 p.m. and April 15, 9:00 p.m.

Put on an extra kettle because the tea is about to be spilled everywhere. Based on the 2012 tell-all book “Full Service,” this documentary looks at Hollywood’s legendary “gentleman hustler” Scotty Bowers. Bowers, now 94 years old, satisfied the sexual desires of some of the world’s biggest stars, both male and female. Matt Tyrnauer’s film takes you back to the Golden Age of Hollywood as he employed a stable of young men who catered to the fantasies of such legends as Cary Grant, Spencer Tracy, Cole Porter, Rock Hudson and more.

 

“The Cakemaker”

Live Action Feature Film

April 9, 4:00 p.m. and April 15, 7:30 p.m.

A German pastry chef named Thomas engages in an affair with Oren, a married Israeli man, in this sensual drama from Israel and Germany. Thomas travels to Jerusalem in search of answers after Oren dies suddenly. He finds himself involved in the lives and business of Oren’s widow and son. What is “The Cakemaker” baking up?

 

“The Feels”

Live Action Feature Film

April 9, 8:45 p.m. and April 13, 1:30 p.m.

Brides-to-be Andi and Lu, played by Constance Wu (“Fresh Off The Boat”) and Angela Trimbur (“The Good Place”), are off for a weekend in wine country with their friends to celebrate their upcoming nuptials. But the weekend turns rocky after a longtime secret is revealed. Writer/director Jenée LaMarque, co-writer Lauren Parks, comedians Josh Fadem and Ever Mainard, and Berlin-based singer/songwriter Kárin Tatoyan round out the all-female cast of this award-winning comedy about female sexuality.

 

“TransMilitary”

Live Action Documentary Feature

April 7, 3:30 p.m. and April 10, 6:30 p.m.

The recent tweets of President Donald Trump have made this feature length documentary about transgender soldiers in the U.S. military not only timely, but important. First-time filmmakers Gabriel Silverman and Fiona Dawson bring us into the lives and families of four transgender members of the military, two of whom are married to each other and all of whom have served with distinction.

 

“Used: A Documentary”

Live Action Documentary Short

April 7, 9:30 p.m. and April 12, 9:30 p.m.

“Used” is a documentary short about people who sell their shorts on the internet. “Lot of us, before we saw that film, had never even known about this online market of selling used underwear: the different types that there are, the different types of people involved and different sexualities that it attracts. It’s pretty interesting and something this filmmaker thought was worth exploring and making a film about,” Cisneros says.

 

“We The Animals”

Live Action Feature Film

April 14, 2:00 p.m. and April 15, 2:30 p.m.

Calling to mind recent films like “Beasts of the Southern Wild” and “The Florida Project,” documentary filmmaker Jeremiah Zager takes a walk into the narrative world as he looks at the cycle of poverty and abuse through the eyes of a child. Based on Justin Torres’s semi-autobiographical 2011 novel that centers on Jonah and his two brothers, whose lives teeter on the edge of disaster one summer in rural upstate New York.

 

“White Rabbit”

Live Action Feature Film

April 7, 1:15 p.m. and April 11 at 7:15 p.m.

“White Rabbit” stars Vivian Bang as Sophia, a Korean-American street performer in Los Angeles who struggles to be heard and find her identity until she meets Victoria, a free-spirited activist and photographer from Africa, played by Nana Ghana. “White Rabbit” is written by Bang and Daryl Wein, who also directs the film.

 

“Wren Boys”

Live Action Short Film

April 14, 2:30 p.m. and April 15, 6:00 p.m.

An international live action short film from the United Kingdom, Harry Lighton’s “Wren Boys” is a touching drama about a Catholic priest who escorts his nephew to prison on the day after Christmas.

The 2018 Florida Film Festival runs April 6-15 at the Enzian Theater in Maitland, Fla. All schedules are subject to change. Full film schedules and tickets are available at FloridaFilmFestival.com or by downloading the Florida Film Festival free app available on iTunes and in the Google Play store.

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