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Area festival aims to repeat maiden success By Rick Allen Staff writer Published: Sunday, March 29, 2015 at 4:07 p.m.
In a world where a trip to the movies involves explosions, snarky superheroes, alien robots, sappy teen vampires, pirates and goofy humor comes an event for our times: The Silver Springs International Film Festival: The Sequel. Staged in luscious digital high definition at the Marion Theatre, the festival promises five days of elegance, dignity, variety and horses. Lots of horses. Amid the hype stands this irrefutable fact: The festival opens on April 8 in downtown Ocala with a first-night screening of the Oscarnominated “Cross Creek,” which was filmed locally 30 years ago, and runs through the following Sunday’s screening of the Best of the Fest.
Doug Engle/ StarBanner One purpose of the Silver Springs Film Festival is to award grants to promising students to further film/communication efforts. Chris Miller's Video Production class at Lake Weir High School was a recipient of a $2000 grant that the class will use to buy a couple Canon cameras, a couple shotgun microphones and a couple bags and tripods to go with them as production kids for the students. Miller receives the check from Executive Director of the Public Education Foundation of Marion County, Judi Zanetti. This year's film festival will run from April 8th-12th.
In between, the festival plans to screen 72 films from 18 states and 16 nations — including the festival’s first U.S. premiere: “Talking to the Air,” a film so far seen only in Nepal, said Greg Thompson, festival director. There’s also a film from Iran — “The Fourth Child” — that may be a world premiere. “I haven’t been able to get a clear answer,” he said. “The three Iranian filmmakers are on their way to Dubai right now to get a visa so they can be here with us.” “Last year we had more international involvement and significantly less U.S. involvement,” said Laurie Zink, executive director of the festival. “We have tripled the (U.S.) involvement this year. “Of course, that puts a lot of pressure on us as a community, now that the filmmakers have stepped up, for us to support them in return. They are coming, and we need to welcome and enjoy what they’ve accomplished and created.” The first fest was a hit economically. Participating merchants reported their revenues increased between 67 percent and 177 percent over the festival’s four days, Zink said. The Ocala/Marion County Visitors & Convention Bureau also applauded the festival. “We expect and hope that the economic impact of the film festival reaches beyond the April event by showcasing Ocala/Marion County as an authentic natural location with great landscapes, people and resources, and some original stories of its own to tell,” said Loretta Shaffer, the bureau’s executive director. The festival “brings together people from across the globe and reminds us that http://www.ocala.com/article/2015150329646?template=printpicart
Marion County was once a favorite choice of filmmakers and television producers,” she added. “We are cultivating a new era of local filmmakers and seeing a rise in the amount of hometown talent producing movies for the big screen.” As it was last year, this festival is grouped into cinematic categories: Documentaries, Narratives, Fresh Squeezed for Florida-centric films, Horse Fever and Cinemagic for films primarily for kids. Student films from Florida State University, Full Sail University, Manhattan Film Institute and Marion County schools share the spotlight on April 9. Additionally, there will be filmmaking seminars each evening — scheduled to allow students to attend — as well as receptions and a gala awards banquet on April 11 under the glittering lights of Magnolia Avenue. The First Friday Art Walk will be held on the second Friday in conjunction with the festival. “There’s something every night of the festival,” Zink said. While hesitant to release the box office figures from the first fest, Zink said the take was enough to award several scholarships and provide nearly $2,000 to the Lake Weir High School television production program to buy new equipment. “There were 3,000-plus tickets sold,” she said. Ticket prices ranged from $8 for a full-time student for a single screening block to the $250 all-access VIP Dive-In Pass. Ticket prices are the same this year. “The festival at this moment is well over two-thirds sponsorship driven,” she continued. “If we get to 100 percent sponsorship, then everything from ticket sales will go into scholarships. We have in our budget an increase in scholarships this year.” Scholarships have not been awarded yet, but early in March the first grant from the festival was presented to the TV production program at Lake Weir High. They asked for equipment to create an in-school news magazine to air Fridays when the class does not meet. “We’ll be better able to put out more content,” said instructor Chris Miller. “When you go to great lengths to celebrate the kids, it really impacts their product.” Miller said, “The project will not only fill a programming need on Fridays but will give students exposure to and practice with the real-life video skills involved in producing a taped program.” Lake Weir Principal Wayne Livingston hailed what the students in the program can do with the additional gear. “Our kids here expect to do well, and they put their best foot forward to achieve it,” he said. Much festival attention this year is on horses and equine cultures. Eight of 56 screening hours are dedicated to the Horse Fever groupings. Some of that focus stems from a partnership with the Equus Film Festival in New York City, a festival “created to highlight and award the diverse and creative efforts of those who artistically pay homage to the horse,” according to Lisa Diersen with Equus. “People love the idea, and we love sharing our love of horses with the world.” Among these films is the U.S. premiere of “Talking to the Wind: The Horses of the Last Forbidden Kingdom.” This documentary by Sophie Dia Pegrum examines the bond between the people in the isolated Himalayan land of Mustang and their http://www.ocala.com/article/2015150329646?template=printpicart
horses. “Their survival is dependent on their horses,” Pegrum said by telephone from her California studio. “This is like stepping back in time. This is living history, a place where people express that spiritual bond they have with their horses.” For 10 days she was granted unprecedented access to the homes and lives of the Mustang people — including a festival where riders attempt to pick up scarves on the ground without falling off their horses. A horsewoman herself, Pegrum added, “If there’s a place in the world that inspires to me, it’s here.” A short of hers, “Tarpan,” is being screened in the same block on April 10; it is about the “original wild horses of Europe” in Bulgaria that were driven to extinction and current efforts to restore the breed. Another poignant equine film on the bill is “The Horses of Fukushima,” about horses in Japan left behind when nuclear reactors at Fukushima melted down in 2011 — and their “shouldering all human karma for creating nuclear energy,” wrote director Matsubayashi Yoju. ■■■ Once again, the Marion Theatre is central to the festival. Carmen Soto, who operates it with her husband, Cesar, welcomed the sequel — though the theater must pass on first-run films that weekend. But it’s worth it, she said. “I am looking so much forward to this,” she said, “It’s nice, especially for film lovers. This is something we love to do.” Contact Rick Allen at 8674154 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Copyright © 2015 Ocala.com — All rights reserved. Restricted use only.