RENEE

The 2012 Florida Film Festival, announced that a record-breaking 167 films were selected to screen at the festival, with 144 having their Florida premiere (or higher) at the Festival. This year’s Festival runs April 13-22, 2012 and is located in Central Florida.

The Narrative and Documentary Feature Film selections for the 2012 Florida Film Festival American Independent Competition were announced.

Among them, DeLand based director Sylvia Caminer unveils her documentary on pop star Rick Springfield. The Zellner brothers, whose bizarrely funny films are regulars at the Festival, bring something quite unexpected and different. FSU graduate Ken Adachi makes his feature film debut. Among recognizable faces on screen this year are Penelope Ann Miller (The Artist), Lauren Ambrose (Six Feet Under), Andrew McCarthy (St. Elmo’s Fire), Robin Tunney (TV’s The Mentalist), Scott Glenn (The Silence of the Lambs), and newcomers including EJ Bonilla and Veronica Diaz-Carranza. 

The opening night selection was also announced today.  The prestigious pole position belongs to RENEE, which will have its East Coast premiere at the 2012 Florida Film Festival.  Based on the life of Renee Yohe, the film tells the story of a 19-year-old who received national and international attention when her courageous story was posted on MySpace. The film deals with the cycle of self-injury which plagues many teenagers and young adults worldwide.  Her experience was the inspiration for the “To Write Love on Her Arms” movement. The Orlando-based production skillfully blends gritty reality with rich fantasy as the film powerfully visualizes this young girl who grew up loving fairy tales but lived through a considerably darker truth.  Kat Dennings (TV’s 2 Broke Girls, Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist) is a knockout as Renee, and Chad Michael Murray (TV’s One Tree Hill), Rupert Friend (The Young Victoria), and Corbin Bleu (High School Musical) lend superb support along with a great music score and appearances by Rachael Yamagata and Travie McCoy of Gym Class Heroes. It is directed by Nathan Frankowski.  Deeply rooted in its own community with people on both sides of the camera whose investment is both personal and passionate, RENEE is a vivid reminder of how the independent film can generate incredible power out of its own reality and bring a story so effectively to life using the support mechanisms available around it.

AMERICAN INDEPENDENT NARRATIVE FEATURES COMPETITION

THE BROOKLYN BROTHERS BEAT THE BEST / USA (Director:  Ryan O’Nan)A failing singer-songwriter (Ryan O’Nan) decides to hit the road with a self-appointed music revolutionary and rediscovers his love for life and music. This inspired musical comedy also stars Andrew McCarthy (St. Elmo’s Fire) and features pitch-perfect cameos by Wilmer Valderrama (TV’s That 70’s Show), Jason Ritter (TV’s Parenthood), Christopher McDonald (Happy Gilmore), and Melissa Leo (The Fighter).

DEAD DAD / USA (Director: Ken J. Adachi) WORLD PREMIEREIn the highly accomplished feature debut of FSU graduate Ken Adachi (Picture Day, FFF 2010), three estranged siblings reunite for their Dad’s funeral and end up leaving with way more than they bargained for: his remains. 

DOG YEARS / USA (Directors: Warren Sroka and Brent Willis) WORLD PREMIEREAn emotionally withdrawn Japanese-American is working in Japan and struggling with the unwanted  arrival of his needy American half-brother. Skillfully shot and boasting terrific performances, the film is at once haiku poetry and psychological monograph. 

DREAMWORLD / USA (Director: Ryan Darst) EAST COAST PREMIEREIn this refreshing romantic comedy, an animator finds himself on an adventure of self-discovery. A talented cast led by Whit Hertford and Mary Kate Wiles gives the script just the right balance of dreaminess and weight. 

KID-THING / USA (Director: David Zellner) EAST COAST PREMIEREThe Florida Film Festival has been home to many of the Zellner Brothers’ uniquely bizarre short films and screened their acclaimed feature Goliath in 2008. KID-THING is a haunting fable that will surprise even their most die-hard fans. A troubled ten-year-old girl (Sydney Aguirre) with a part-time demolition derby driver and goat farmer father (Nathan Zellner) hears the distress call of a woman coming from an abandoned well and takes matters into her own immature hands. 

MAGIC VALLEY / USA (Director: Jaffe Zinn) SOUTHEAST PREMIEREA high school student in the small town of Buhl, Idaho, returns home early one brisk October morning bearing the burden of a terrible secret.  Meanwhile, members of the community go about their day completely unaware of how their lives are about to be changed forever.  A strong and powerful cast of actors (led by veteran Scott Glenn, The Silence of the Lambs) reveals this haunting story.

MAMITAS / USA (Director: Nicholas Ozeki) FLORIDA PREMIEREA coming-of-age romance rooted in Los Angeles Mexican-American community, MAMITAS introduces two wonderful young actors, EJ Bonilla and Veronica Diaz-Carranza, and first-time feature filmmaker and Independent Spirit Award nominee Nicholas Ozeki. 

AN ORDINARY FAMILY / USA (Director: Mike Akel) SOUTHEAST PREMIEREA funny, bittersweet family reunion at a lake cabin centers around two brothers in conflict.  Director Mike Akel (Chalk, FFF 2006 Special Jury Award winner) has created a world where love, faith, and reason are brought together with such gentleness that it still seems possible to believe that America is a nation of tolerance and forgiveness.

SEE GIRL RUN / USA (Director: Nate Meyer) FLORIDA PREMIERENate Meyer (FFF 2007 Special Jury Award winner, Pretty in the Face) returns to the Florida Film Festival with a different style of love story starring Robin Tunney (TV’s The Mentalist, The Craft), Josh Hamilton (The Bourne Identity), and Adam Scott (TV’s Parks and Recreation, Step Brothers.) 

THINK OF ME / USA (Director: Bryan Wizemann) SOUTHEAST PREMIERETHINK OF ME tells the gripping story of Angela (Lauren Ambrose, HBO’s Six Feet Under and Best Actress Independent Spirit Award nominee), a jobless single mother doing her best not to fall apart. This disturbing drama, co-starring Dylan Baker (Happiness) and Penelope Ann Miller (The Artist), raises important questions about the claims of parenthood, privilege, and the complicated and powerful ethics of familial love.

AMERICAN INDEPENDENT DOCUMENTARY FEATURES COMPETITION

AN AFFAIR OF THE HEART / USA (Director: Sylvia Caminer) WORLD PREMIERELocal filmmaker Sylvia Caminer explores the life, fame, and fans of pop idol Rick Springfield. The film reveals a behind-the-scenes portrait of hard-working Springfield and his devoted, obsessive fans.

BERT STERN: ORIGINAL MADMAN / USA (Director: Shannah Laumeister) EAST COAST PREMIEREPhotographer Bert Stern revolutionized the world of advertising, changed the taste of America during the post-war boom years, and convinced Marilyn Monroe to reveal her deepest heart during what turned out to be her last photo session. 

BURY THE HATCHET / USA (Director: Aaron C. Walker) SOUTHEAST PREMIEREBURY THE HATCHET takes the audience behind the scenes and through the vast history of the Mardi Gras “Indians” and their great Chiefs and shares the culture as well as the extraordinary music that underscores this captivating and hidden corner of New Orleans.

GIRL MODEL / USA (Directors: David Redmon and Ashley Sabin) FLORIDA PREMIEREDirected by the filmmaking team that brought us Mardi Gras: Made in China (FFF 2005 Grand Jury Award for Best Doc Feature), Kamp Katrina (FFF 2007), and Intimidad (FFF 2008), GIRL MODEL takes the viewer deep into the underbelly of the international modeling industry by following the paths of both model and scout.  

GIVE UP TOMORROW / USA (Director: Michael Collins) SOUTHEAST PREMIEREPaco Larrañaga’s arrest and trial were a media circus reflecting schisms of race, class, and political power in a Philippine legal system marred by corruption. GIVE UP TOMORROW is the gripping result of over a decade of filming, on three continents and four countries, a Kafkaesque trial and conviction where justice was abandoned.

JOBRIATH A.D. / USA (Director: Kieran Turner) NORTH AMERICAN PREMIEREIn the 1970’s music scene, the vastly talented Jobriath, nabbed one of the richest deals in rock history and openly proclaimed his homosexuality by declaring himself “The True Fairy of Rock & Roll.”  Now, nearly 40 years after his solo debut the bizarre, tragic, and nearly forgotten mystery that was Jobriath is ready for its close-up. 

KUMARE USA / (Director: Vikram Gandhi) SOUTHEAST PREMIERETo make a point about blind faith, filmmaker Vikram Gandhi grew out his hair, adopted a kooky accent, and presented himself as Kumare, a perpetually grinning guru recently arrived from India.  Setting up shop in Phoenix with a pair of lithe yoga babes, Kumare recruits a cadre of followers. KUMARE starts as an indictment of religious beliefs but ends up a weirdly sincere ode to the true power of faith.  

NOT YET BEGUN TO FIGHT / USA (Director: Sabrina Lee and Shasta Grenier) FLORIDA PREMIERE Retired Marine Colonel Eric Hastings knows first hand about the reality of war and the disconnection soldiers feel when they return home from battle. Beautifully shot and featuring music by Sean Eden (ex-Luna), this moving and powerful look at the human cost of war is the work of Sabrina Lee (Where You From, FFF 2009) and Emmy winner Shasta Grenier.  

SALAAM DUNK / USA (Director: David Fine) SOUTHEAST PREMIERENightly news coverage of Iraq typically offers a monolithic vision of violence, fanaticism, and repression. SALAAM DUNK reveals a different reality—intelligent young women developing leadership skills as well as tolerance for diverse religious and ethnic groups via the most American of pursuits, basketball. 

THE SHEIK & I / USA (Director: Caveh Zahedi) EAST COAST PREMIERECinematic provocateur Caveh Zahedi (I Am a Sex Addict) is commissioned by the Sharjah Biennial to make a film on the theme “art as a subversive act.” Similarly hilarious yet far more disturbing than the mega-hit Borat, THE SHEIK & I is a breathtaking display of filmmaking chutzpah.

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