PAUL WILLIAMS STILL ALIVE

The 2012 Florida Film Festival unveiled the Florida Showcase and Music Sidebar programs earlier this week.  Film subjects include about a hurricane, ’70s sensation Paul Williams, songsmith Andrew Bird, Florida’s juvenile justice system, and legendary artist Paul Simon. This year’s Festival runs April 13-22, 2012 and is located in Central Florida.

FLORIDA FEATURE FILM SHOWCASE:

EYE OF THE HURRICANE / USA (Director: Jesse Wolfe) EAST COAST PREMIERE
Set in the majestic but dangerous Florida Everglades, EYE OF THE HURRICANE is told through the perspectives of a determined child, a troubled adolescent, a wounded parent, and a loyal friend, all struggling to put their lives back together after a devastating hurricane. This compelling family drama stars Campbell Scott (Big Night), Melanie Lynskey (Up in the Air), and Brian Doyle-Murray (Groundhog Day) and is the feature directorial debut of Orlando filmmaker and Rollins College graduate Jesse Wolfe. Currently a professor of film at the University of Central Florida, Wolfe skillfully reveals the terrifying yet enlightening effects of a natural disaster as only a Florida filmmaker can.

BEATING JUSTICE: THE MARTIN LEE ANDERSON STORY / USA (Director: Andy Opel) WORLD PREMIERE
On January 5, 2006, 14-year-old Martin Lee Anderson was incarcerated in one of Florida’s five juvenile boot camps for stealing his grandmother’s car. On January 6, Martin Lee Anderson was dead. A surveillance video showed at least seven guards surrounding Anderson and engaging in various acts of force and physical violence. BEATING JUSTICE is an unflinching and disturbing look at juvenile justice in the State of Florida, featuring interviews with family members, state government officials, civil rights leaders, student activists, media scholars, and journalists. Director Andy Opel is an associate professor and the director of media production in the School of Communication at Florida State University.

MUSIC SIDEBAR

ANDREW BIRD: FEVER YEAR / USA (Director: Xan Aranda) SOUTHEAST PREMIERE
The glittering, sequin-covered shoes which appear in the first frame of this film are an ideal metaphor for Andrew Bird. On one hand, he’s a startlingly original, super-literate pop songsmith who combines classical violin, a steam-punk set presentation, and loop-based backing tracks. On the other hand, he’s just an old pair of shoes—quiet, comfortable, and functional. Director Xan Aranda captures Bird on and off stage during the final days of a grueling 165-show tour.
Andrew Bird’s new album “Break It Yourself” releases today featuring songs from the film.

PAUL WILLIAMS STILL ALIVE / USA (Director: Stephen Kessler) FLORIDA PREMIERE
Recognized as one of the biggest stars of the ’70s, Paul Williams wrote songs for The Carpenters, Three Dog Night, and Barbara Streisand and hits including “The Rainbow Connection” for The Muppet Movie and the theme song to Love Boat. He acted in dozens of films and TV shows and appeared as a guest on The Tonight Show more than 50 times. And then, sometime between the ’80s and the ’90s, Williams vanished. Did he die of a drug overdose, or did he become a recluse living off his royalty checks? Filmmaker Stephen Kessler’s dogged determination to get Williams to participate in his documentary eventually leads Williams to open up about his career and drug abuse. PAUL WILLIAMS STILL ALIVE joyfully shatters the boundary between filmmaker and subject, giving way to an onscreen friendship that is fun to watch.

UNDER AFRICAN SKIES / USA (Director: Joe Berlinger)
Paul Simon’s historic “Graceland” album sold millions of copies and united cultures, yet divided world opinion on the boundaries of art, politics, and commerce. Twenty-five years after the album’s release, Simon returns to South Africa for a reunion with his collaborators in a joyous occasion celebrated with memories and song in a glorious fusion of African and American sounds. The studio rocks as the artists pick up right where they left off. Florida Film Festival alum Joe Berlinger (the Paradise Lost trilogy) assembles a chorus of notables, including David Byrne, Paul McCartney, Harry Belafonte, and Quincy Jones, to weigh in on Simon’s genius.

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