Family Programming at the 2015 Florida Film Festival

The 24th Annual Florida Film Festival, produced by Enzian Theater and held throughout 10 days in Central Florida each April, offers more than 176 feature and short films from 30 countries, in addition to celebrity guests, special events, film forums, and parties. This year’s films include 150 premieres, 21 of which are world premieres.

Programming in this Oscar®-qualifying festival includes competing and non-competing independent films, special screenings, midnight movies, and sidebars. Festival Programming Director Matthew Curtis said, “Once again, we have a great mix of fresh, exciting talent and returning Florida Film Festival veterans doing outstanding work that we’re proud to present to our community.”

Although the majority of films are intended for adult audiences with mature themes and late-night screenings, each year’s event also features matinees with family programming. The intention is to encourage young audiences to experience the joy of independent cinema and hear cinematic stories that typically don’t get wide distribution.

Family Films at Florida Film Festival

Monkey Kingdom

Directed by Mark Linfield (Chimpanzee) and Alastair Fothergill (Chimpanzee), this 78-minute feature film take viewers on an adventure with Maya, a resourceful blond-bobbed monkey in the jungles of South Asia. A Disneynature film, Monkey Kingdom follows Maya’s changing life as her son enters her complicated extended family group, and they become displaced from their home by an aggressive group of neighboring monkeys. Though not yet rated, this family friendly film also features music by award-winning composer, Harry Gregson-Williams.

Top Spin

Directed by Sara Newens and Mina T. Son, this 80-minute documentary enjoys its Southeast premiere at the Florida Film Festival. In Chinese with English subtitles, the fast and furious world of competitive table tennis is explored as never before. In Top Spin, three high school students (Ariel, Lily, and Michael) who dream of making it to the Olympics reveal the skills and focus needed to be champions. Slow-motion photography allows viewers to get a unique look at how it’s done as the young athletes train, compete, and deal with daily life as teenagers.

When Marnie Was There

Directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi, this 103-minute Japanese animated feature makes its Southeast premiere at the Festival. Produced by Studio Ghibli and based on the acclaimed British novel by Joan G. Robinson, the story concerns Anna, a troubled 12-year-old girl in a foster home, who feels drawn to an abandoned marsh house. There she finds a mysterious girl who appears in the window, and they develop a relationship. Anna finds, however, that her new friend may not be exactly what she appears to be. This English version includes the voice talents of Hailee Steinfeld, Kiernan Shipka, Geena Davis, John C. Reilly, Kathy Bates, and Ellen Burstyn.

For more information about the Florida Film Festival, visit the official website at

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Leslie C. Halpern

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