Florida Film Festival Awards Gala
When I mentioned to a friend that I would be attending the Florida Film Festival Awards Gala, he asked me if it was like Cannes. I proceeded to have a good laugh. Little did I know that the joke was on me. The Awards Gala was an extremely well thought out, well-orchestrated event.
In true Hollywood fashion, the Awards Gala was held at soundstage 33 on the back lot of Universal Studios Florida. Outside the soundstage, a cocktail party kicked off the event. I was somewhat surprised when the party turned out to be very elegant, with most of the guests dressed as if they were in Cannes or attending the Oscars. In keeping with the film festival theme, “Cinematic Sorcery,” what can only be described as large magical characters on stilts roamed the crowds while the press interviewed some of the stars on hand. Inside the soundstage, the theme continued, with an elaborate curtain behind the stage and the room looking as elegant as an empty soundstage can.
Dinner was served, and this was my one disappointment of the evening. I ordered the vegetarian plate, which, to be kind, lacked imagination, or even very much food, for that matter, but I wasn’t there for the great cuisine, and got ready for the awards to start.
There were screens at both ends of the room to allow everyone to see the presentation. Clips of many of the films were shown, which was nice, in case you were unable to catch all of the screenings. Quite a few of the awards were given to well-known actors. Steve Buscemi (Fargo, Reservoir Dogs, Armageddon) was given the Enzian Award for Artistic Achievement. Legendary actor Seymour Cassell presented an award. Academy Award winner Cliff Robertson received the John Tiedtke Lifetime Achievement Award. Sometimes, it’s surprising how many actors we see in films on a regular basis, but they remain almost anonymous. This was the case for me with the actor who received the Enzian Award for Achievement in Acting, Scott Wilson. To be honest, I had no idea who Scott Wilson was. As his clips ran across the screens, I was amazed how I could not know who he was. Here was a great actor who has appeared in such films as Dead Man Walking, The Great Gatsby, and G.I. Jane, just to name a few. His co-stars in those films were all well-known Hollywood Names, yet he was not. I was really glad that he won the Achievement in Acting Award, and was getting the attention for his body of work that he obviously deserved, not because he is a big box office draw, but because of talent and hard work.
In the name of self-promotion, I have to mention that the student film award was sponsored by Ink Nineteen, and was won by Ryan Sullivan for the film Hobby Lane Matinee. Other awards given were the Grand Jury Award for Best Narrative Short, won by Waiting for Woody by Grant Heslov, the audience award for Best Documentary Feature, which went to The Human Race by Bobby Houston, and the Grand Jury Award for Best Narrative Feature which went to Unmade Beds by Nicholas Barker.
The awards continued for the remainder of the evening. Everything went off very smoothly and professionally. The ceremony was really starting to feel like the Oscars, including some long-winded speeches (and some speeches from people who had been having a few cocktails). Afterwards, there was dancing to the sounds of the swing band Blue Flame Combo. After deciding not to dance, we ventured outside for some air. Steve Buscemi and Seymour Cassel were both outside just hanging out with everyone else, and were very happy to have there photo taken with people, so in true “fan” form, we asked Steve Buscemi and Seymour Cassel to have their picture taken with us. I only felt somewhat stupid, but at least I got the picture.
An event like this really allows you to see the variety of great films out there that will never play at the local multiplex. The Enzian Theater, which puts on the Florida Film Festival, has a lot to be proud of.
The Enzian Theater is Central Florida’s only full time non-profit alternative cinema.