The FilmSlam showcase highlights a series of short films every month
The Enzian will be home once again to FilmSlam, an indie film showcase that highlights several short films Florida and Central Florida creators, on June 10.
“People have bumped up our game when it comes to FilmSlam; we have a cult following,” Program Host Jen Vargas said. “It’s not a set audience. Every month when I go up on stage and ask, ‘How many people have never been to FilmSlam before?’ I’d say a good 30 to sometimes 50% raises their hands. I say, ‘First of all, shame on you. But welcome and I really hope you come back.’”
FilmSlam spends a maximum of one hour each month showing films — typically about six — that Vargas said can be as short as 30 seconds to as long as 20 minutes.
The showcase’s audience, which has reached close to 200 people in recent years, votes on the best three films. The top film under 10 minutes then goes on to play at the Enzian’s Brouhaha showcase in November. Sometimes those pieces are showcased at the Florida Film Festival.
The movies presented each month often fit a theme, which has included horror, love and even projects exclusively made by female directors.
June’s theme, though, hits a little closer to home for the program’s director.
“(June) was never meant to be a theme month … but June 12 was the day Pulse happened and was the same day as our FilmSlam,” Vargas said. “All of those things happened in the early hours of the morning, and I had to go on stage (at FilmSlam) at one o clock. I’m usually goofy and generally pleasant … but that whole day was a blur.”
Since, then Vargas has chosen the month of June to focus on short films involving Central Florida’s LGBTQ community. This month will be no different — FilmSlam will play six “Orlando United”films featuring the LBGTQ community in Central Florida.
“I wanted to make sure that I was inclusive — not only celebrating Orlando but also our LGBTQ plus filmmakers,” she said.
The program, which runs 10 months each year, takes a break in April and November for the Florida Film Festival and Brouhaha program, respectively.
The showcase began in 2005 as a University of Central Florida project held in the school’s Digital Media Arts Center. Vargas said the Enzian became the official home for the showcase about a year later. She volunteered with the showcase as a support and the program’s social media director before finally taking the role of program director herself after Enzian Program Coordinator Tim Anderson stepped down three years ago.
“Jen’s been involved with FilmSlam since the absolute beginning,” Anderson said. “She’s always had a good rapport with local filmmakers; she knew everybody. I feel like … you have to have that context in the local industry to facilitate getting that many entries 10 times a year.”
Vargas is proud of the turnout the showcase has built. At one time, the production only had a handful of attendees; it now often sees more than 100 visitors.
“There’s no place for us, really, to play unless we rent out a theater ourselves,” she said. “There’s no outlet in this area for people to play their films or something that says ‘Filmmakers Welcome.’ I really wanted to keep FilmSlam alive for that fact alone.”
Writer: Olugbenga Sotubo, Bryce Culp; Director: Luis S. Alvarez
Producer: Paola Gisler
Running Time: Eight minutes
Synopsis: MrMs takes us on an adventure exploring the world of Drag, telling us his experiences and challenges that come with living a “double life.”
‘The Pulse of a City’
Writer/Director/Producer: Hannah Powell
Running Time: 14:26
Synopsis: A queer woman living in Orlando explores the impact of the Pulse shooting on the LGBTQ+ community and the city she calls home.
‘The Monarch Initiative: Sustainability Culture Blooms in the Audubon Park Garden District’
Writer: Stephany Nazari; Director: Colin Morris; Producer: Jacob Kaplan
Running Time: 6:45
Synopsis: Full Sail University crews captured the businesses and inhabitants of eco-minded neighborhood, Audubon Park, who have built a culture focused on conservation and sustainability in partnership with The Monarch Initiative.
‘Fighting Two Wars: The Story of Thalia Jane Ainsley
Writer/Director: Aaron Curtis
Producer: Anthony Decimus
Running Time: 8:29
Synopsis: The story of Thalia Jane Ainsley, a Vietnam war veteran who transitioned into a woman later in life.
‘One Big Pitch’
Writer/Director/Producer: Jenny Taylor
Running Time: 15:31
Synopsis: Taylor is on a journey to explore a city’s culture through the game of soccer and its people. The world is one big pitch.
‘The R.O.Y.G.B.I.V Project’
Directors: Jane, Kacie, and Lilly
Running Time: 10 minutes
Synopsis: College Park middle-schoolers Jane, Kacie, and Lilly see Orlando in color.
IF YOU GO
WHEN: 1 p.m. Sunday, June 10
WHERE: Enzian Theater, 1300 S. Orlando Ave, Maitland