Archive for the ‘Culture’ Category

2nd Annual Orlando Hispanic Film Festival

Like movies? Go check out the 2nd Annual Orlando Hispanic Film Festival opening today through the weekend, wrapping up on Sunday. The event is being held at the Premiere Cinemas 14 at Fashion Square and coincides with Hispanic Heritage Month festivities.

This event is described by the website as a “high energy, high profile event” that provides a “highly desirable platform where independent filmmakers from around the world can showcase their work to industry professionals and the entire Central Florida Community.”

Awards will be presented to the top films in several categories, selected by a committee of Orlando area entertainment professionals, with the exception of the Audience Award, which, you guessed it, is decided by audience kudos. The categories are:

• Best Feature
• Best Short Film
• Best Documentary Feature
• Best Short Documentary
• Best Screenplay
• Best Original Score
• Best Director
• Best Cinematography
• Best Short Animation
• Best Actor Male
• Best Actor Female
• Best Ensemble Cast

Cool stuff, looks like over 50 films will be screened, so should be something for everyone’s tastes.

Travel Channel Airs New Sam Brown in O-Town

Samantha Brown Passport to Great Weekends in Orlando [photo: The Travel Channel]Anyone who watches the Travel Channel on a regular basis knows who Samantha Brown is. Her “Passport to…” series generally gives a half-hour snapshot of a given locale with her visiting a cross-section of hotspots, tourist “must-sees” and the like.

Well, in February, Brown visited Orlando for a new show, called “Passport to Great Weekends.” The results of her visit aired last week on the Travel Channel when the Orlando episode premiered. Yeah, I missed it, too, but just watched it this weekend on TiVo.

Surprisingly, she visited some cool, more off-the-beaten path type of stuff – you know, the “non-theme-park” side of Orlando that everyone gripes the tourists never visit.

She based herself downtown at The Grand Bohemian Hotel, then visited Winter Park to take in the Saturday Farmer’s Market. She also got a little tipsy at The Wine Room and shoe shopped at Shou’ture Salon. She ate some soul food at Johnson’s Diner on Church St., spun her own hand-blown pint glass at Keila Glassworks at the CityArts Factory, then drank out of it later at NV on Pine. She rounded out the show by doing some indoor skydiving at SkyVenture, over by Universal Orlando.

Overall, I enjoyed the episode. Over at the Pulse of Central Florida, their biggest complaint was that it should have been an hour to include something other than the Winter Park area. I agree, that would have been nice (some suggestions: Lakeridge Winery on a festival weekend, Mt. Dora, more on the downtown area, etc.). But, considering she had 30 minutes (ok, probably closer to 20-25 after commercial breaks) to showcase the city beyond the theme parks, I think she picked some rather fun things for visitors to check out. And anything that encourages travelers to not only visit but explore Orlando is a good thing, imho.

According to a pre-show interview with Orlando Sentinel TV Critic Hal Boedeker, Brown said, “Being in Orlando and showing it in a light few outsiders see it in was so much fun, and after seven years of coming to Orlando to only do the theme parks, a real eye-opener. It’s a great city.”

Thanks Sam…I think so, too.

If you missed the episode and want to check it out for yourself, the Travel Channel has two more airings of it this week: Jul. 16 at 11pm (that’s tomorrow) and Jul. 17 at 11am (Thursday morning).

Those who want a little more in-depth on Brown’s visit can read her blog online about it at the Travel Channel. Her crew also blogged about the skydiving. There’s even a small “webisode” online about her kayaking in the area that didn’t make it into the show (unless I just missed it).

So I have two questions for you dear MB readers. Did you see the show and what did you think? Also, if Brown were to revisit for “Great Weekends” part 2, where would you suggest she go?

Orlando Weekly Weighs In On New Performing Arts Center

For those interested in the various performing arts groups that call Orlando home, an article in this week’s Orlando Weekly takes a look at whether the groups the new Dr. Phillips Performing Arts Center will be aimed at housing can actually afford to be in the venue once it’s open.

Writer Billy Manes profiles the three biggies in town – the symphony, the ballet and the opera company – and looks at what the new rents will cost each one, along with commentary from people involved as to how that cost will probably be passed onto the city’s patrons of the arts.

From the article:

“The Orlando Opera Company, the Orlando Ballet and the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra will be the primary residents of the new performing arts center’s secondary, 1,800-seat hall when it opens in 2012. But their transition from the relatively humble Bob Carr Performing Arts Centre won’t be as easy as it might seem on paper. Increased rental rates, production costs and expectations could make or break these niche organizations, which are supported primarily by grant money and private donations. And United Arts of Central Florida, which is struggling with governmental funding cuts and diminishing private donations, may no longer be able to shore up local arts groups.”

If you can’t find a copy around town, OW has the article online for reading. And thankfully, they’ve restrained from Manes’ normal overuse of bold type that permeates his regular print column.

I think it brings up some really good points. Sure it’ll be nice to see these groups in a nicer venue, but will the people of Orlando be willing to pay more to do so? What are your thoughts?

Why?

A missing letter… and an almost philosophical question emerges…

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Holy Grounds of Adventure Gaming

I’ve always been a big fan of adventure computer gaming and I’m doing research about the history of adventure gaming… not at least because I’m part of the production team of a graphic adventure game trilogy called “Soviet Unterzoegersdorf”.

Michael Donaldson (aka Q Burns ABstract Message) just informed me that Scott Adams, ‘inventor’ of the adventure game was based in Altamonte Springs when he was making and selling those early text-adventures. That’s not far from where I’m currently staying! I’m walking holy grounds! Ahhhhh!

Virtual Culture?

The Greater Orlando area is rich in suburbia. And what would a real suburb be without innumerable Red Lobsters and Cracker Barrels? All of those themed restaurant experiences are economically beautiful mass-market simulacra of (mostly) obsolete institutions and cultural styles.
Just to be clear: I don’t believe in the concept of “authenticity”. So this isn’t crying about losing “history” or whatever.

An example:
I’m especially in love with Olive Garden, the virtual restaurant reality of Northwestern Italy.

olivegardeninst.jpg

On their menu, they feature a portrait of Olive Garden’s “Culinary Institute” in Tuscany. And they explain on their homepage that every year “approximately 100 Olive Garden managers travel to Italy to enhance their culinary skills as part of an ongoing training program designed to bring the genuine Italian dining experience alive for managers and, upon their return, to their restaurant teams and guests.”
That’s quite a useless carbon footprint, because in the ongoing battle of “authentic culture” vs. “demographic market surveys”, the latter most definitely wins, because people don’t want to dine in “Italy”, they want to dine in what they believe is Italy, they want to dine in a “feeling”. And that most definitely shapes the next generation of cultural simulacra.
An endless copy paste loop which does not lack — I have to admit — a certain peculiar beauty…

monochrom performance in Orlando

For the first time there will be a monochrom talk/performance in Orange County, Florida!
What will happen? Well… it will be tour-de-farce. A joyful bucket full of good clean fanaticism, crisis, language, culture, self-content, identity, utopia, mania and despair, condensed into the well known cultural technique of a gala show. Powernapping highly welcome.

January 22, 8 PM @ The Redlight Redlight in Winter Park.

A product recommendation

As you may already have realized, I spent some time at local malls.
I like malls, I have to add. Sometimes you can find a tiny little fragment of a better world hidden in those endless shelves and displays… for example this wonderful piece of consumer culture. It’s not only a wonderful piece of cheap Chinese labor — it is also a very valid statement about consumer culture itself. Long live the metaphor!

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