The 2020 edition of the Tallahassee Film Festival happens April 15-19!
The festival returns with a head-spinning array of bold new American independent cinema and international work, including documentary and fictional features and short films of every style and description. We’ll have parties and panels and Q&As, and special events that expand the festival beyond the screen, with live music and literary interludes. And, as always, dozens of filmmakers and their teams, as well as special guests, on hand to socialize and engage audiences about their work.
The first wave of film bookings has a distinctive Floridian vibe. Very-early-bird tickets are on sale now! Take advantage of discount prices while they last. More selections to be announced in the coming weeks.
A film by Ivete Lucas & Patrick Bresnan
Steeped in the smell of tacos and burning sugar cane, the sights and sounds of Pahokee, Florida, are portrayed with humid specificity in this heartfelt documentary — yet its story will be entirely familiar to anyone who is, or was, a small-town teenager yearning for a bigger pond. Taking the form of a cinematic yearbook, documenting the trials of four senior-year students as they seek the most secure path to graduation and beyond, Pahokee alternates between Frederick Wiseman-style community observation and less detached, more affectionate character portraiture, notably via the subjects’ cellphone video diaries. The result is … lively and rousing as a generational snapshot, buoyed by the lovable, resilient kids at its heart. (Variety).
Red, White & Wasted
A film by Andrei Bowden-Schwartz & Sam B. Jones
Beer, bikinis and big-ass trucks. Take a deep dive into the wild and crazy subculture of Central Florida mudders, where monster-wheeled vehicles rampage through the swamps, cheered on by ever-more intoxicated enthusiasts. But nothing lasts forever. When his beloved mudding site is shut down by a fire, Matthew “Video Pat” Burns is thrown into a crisis, his way of life seemingly under threat from every direction – a struggle made even more complex by the unceasing demands of being a single father to two teenaged daughters. Filmmakers Bowden-Schwartz and Jones offer a non-judgmental look at aspects of southern life that will be disturbing to many, yet represent a distinctly Floridian extreme that one man, at least, strives to come to terms with.
Once Upon a River
A film by Haroula Rose
A traditional coming-of-age story, Once Upon a River nonetheless boasts a most unconventional heroine in Margo Crane (newcomer Kendi DelaCerna in a knockout performance), a 15-year-old girl being raised in a riverside cabin amid the wilderness of western Michigan by her Native American father, after her white mother has abandoned them. Margo is a prodigy with a rifle, an eagle-eyed huntress, who idolizes Annie Oakley, and a stoic loner who guardedly strives to prove herself in a community dominated by men. Her strong will carries her forward through a succession of horrifying events that compel her to leave home, and find her way through a series of encounters, as she goes in search of her mother. Rose adapted the film from the 2011 novel of the same name, written by Bonnie Jo Campbell. “I really love that it’s about friendship and resilience in really difficult times but in a really unique way,” says Rose, an accomplished singer-songwriter with a string of short films to her name, and credits on such Sundance breakouts as Fruitvale Station, on which she was an associate producer. “She’s on an odyssey. It’s essentially a road movie, but in very particular circumstances, and she’s a girl becoming a woman among all these men but still kind of holding her own.”
Thumbs Up for Mother Universe: Stories from the Life of Lonnie Holley
A film by George King
This is the story of one person’s drive to succeed against impossible odds: a journey from garbage dumps and prison camps to festival stages and The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Alabama native Lonnie Holley has been described as an outsider, poet, con man, prophet, hustler, visionary artist, junkman and shaman. This documentary, shot over a more than 20-year period, traces Holley’s incredible odyssey through grinding poverty, an unspeakably brutal childhood and Jim Crow justice to emerge triumphant as an internationally renowned visual artist and musician.
A film by Martha Shane
Richard Castellano, a character actor best-known for a small role in Analyze This, parlays his reputation playing Italian-American heavies into an extravagant long con at the expense of the gullible citizens of a New York hamlet 100 miles northwest of Manhattan. The excitable Castellano shows up, all fast talk and glad hands, and spellbinds the town with talk of both a movie (a crime saga called Four Deadly Reasons) to be filmed there, and a film festival that will make Narrowsburg, Pop. 431., the “Sundance of the East Coast.” His French-accented wife, Jocelyne, joins Castellano in an increasingly shady and desperate shell game that exploits the kind of show-biz fantasies that seem encoded into American DNA. Shane’s stranger-than-fiction chronicle of the scam concerns itself as much with its small-town dreamers as their deceivers, making what could be yet another oddball true-crime narrative into a story about how images, and the desires they generate, can intoxicate people and make them do crazy things. And in the end, who knows what can happen?