March's best bets in the arts and entertainment.
Along with such other invaluable community resources as museums and public libraries, we also have Matthew Curtis.
Longtime programming director for both the Florida Film Festival and its producer, Enzian Theater, Curtis, 51, is a walking, talking, popcorn-chomping encyclopedia of film who watches some 700 feature-length movies and innumerable shorts per year.
Having grown up as a film buff in the New York and Miami Beach areas, Curtis attended Sarasota’s New College, where he ran the film series, and then worked as sales director for a Manhattan film distributor. It was in the latter capacity that he got to know the folks at Enzian, the single-screen Maitland moviehouse that specializes in independent American and foreign films. And after he moved to Orlando in 1987, he signed on with the theater.
In recent weeks, Curtis has been super-busy putting together the schedule for the film festival’s 18th edition, which will run from March 27 through April 5. Each year, the festival presents about 50 features and 100 shorts, which are chosen from the approximately 600 features and 800 shorts that are submitted.
No, Curtis doesn’t watch them all himself. Helping to sift though those submissions are several three-person committees of local film educators and filmmakers. But as program director, he does see a lot of them.
“I’ve seen so much, it takes a lot more to impress me,” says Curtis, who recently returned from the Sundance Film Festival, where he scouted prospects for the Florida Film Festival and other Enzian showings. “But it makes it that much more wonderful when something is entirely original. It’s, like, a literal rush. You get excited. You get goose bumps.”
Florida Film Festival, March 27-April 5. Individual tickets cost $10, with packages available. Films will be shown at Enzian Theater, 1300 South Orlando Avenue, Maitland, and Regal Winter Park Village 20, 510 North Orlando Avenue, Winter Park. Call 407-629-1088, ext. 225 or visit floridafilmfestival.com
Stargazing at Bay Hill
March 23-29 Even people who aren’t golf’s biggest fans sometimes find themselves checking out the stars at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, played at Bay Hill Club southwest of Orlando. Past winners include Tiger Woods, five times, as well as such other familiar names as Phil Mickelson and Ernie Els. Options for watching range from a $35 practice-day pass for the frugal, to $2,000 for those who wish to join The King’s Club, a new option this year, which includes player meet-and-greets and a round of golf. 407-876-7774. arnoldpalmerinvitational.com
—Short items by Laureen Crowley Algier
March 27-29 In a season fraught with personnel changes and economic challenges, Orlando Ballet is celebrating some of the successes of its 35 years with a production titled Encore!, which revisits some of the group’s best performances. Started in 1974 as Performing Arts Company of Florida, the dance company became the Southern Ballet Theatre in 1978 and Orlando Ballet in 2002. In the latter part of 2008, finances forced the company to reduce the number of Nutcracker performances and to use recorded music instead of the Orlando Philharmonic. In addition, the ballet lost several key players including artistic director Bruce Marks, who had held that post since shortly after the 2005 death of Fernando Bujones. The resume of the new artistic director, Robert Hill, includes artistic director of Mexico’s Ballet de Monterrey and principal dancer for American Ballet Theatre, New York City Ballet and Royal Ballet of London. Friday-Saturday 8 p.m., Sunday 2 p.m. $25-$80. Bob Carr Performing Arts Centre. 407-426-1739. orlandoballet.org
Fast and Funny
March 6 He’s one of those comics who keep it coming so fast and furious that it seems their brains must be in permanent hyperdrive. Then, just when you think you have Robin Williams pegged as all-funny, all the time, he shows up on Law and Order: SVU in a creepy role that garners him a People’s Choice Award as a “scene stealer” and reminds us that he is also a gifted serious actor. Nonetheless, expect more absurdity than seriousness from his Weapons of Self-Destruction Comedy Tour. 8 p.m. $49.50-$210. Meet and greet VIP package, $435. UCF Arena. 407-839-3900. ticketmaster.com
March 3 The Harlem Globetrotters are known for their clowning around on the basketball court, but their history—which begins in Chicago, not New York—is one of serious athletics first and foremost. Despite criticism during the Civil Rights era that their buffoonery hurt the image of African-Americans, the Globetrotters are credited with a key role in breaking the color line in professional basketball, in part by defeating all-white teams. Legendary members include Wilt “The Stilt” Chamberlin, Fred “Curly” Neal and George “Meadowlark” Lemon. These days, the lineup includes gentle-giant Wildkat Edgerson, Big Easy Lofton (“The Clown Prince of Basketball”) and dribbling sensation Flight Time Lang. 7 p.m. $13-$94. UCF Arena. 407-839-3900. ticketmaster.com