Wednesday, January 19, 2022


Documentary on Florida prisoner Mark DeFriest and Florida Focus features and documentaries spotlight Sunshine State at Key West Film Fest Nov. 12-16

Filmmaking in Florida and about Florida has been thrust to the forefront of the film festival circuit, largely recognized as award-winning and compelling making the presence of such films at the Key West Film Festival, scheduled for Nov. 12-16, an ideal fit.

On tap to be screened is the riveting documentary, a 13-year labor of love by Director and Producer Gabriel London, The Life and Mind of Mark DeFriest. The film tells the story of notorious prisoner and escape artist Mark DeFriest who after more than 30 years in Florida prison systems for a possible wrongful conviction, will be up for parole in October 2014. The film takes the viewer behind bars for in-depth interviews with DeFriest that raise questions about the validity of his conviction and the psychological and physical damage he has endured due to his incarceration.

Also showing is An Honest Liar based on the story of James “The Amazing” Randi, a Hollywood, FL resident whose feats of magic, escape and trickery was copied by faith healers and psychics to steal money from innocent people. In the film, which also features magicians Penn & Teller and singer/performer Alice Cooper, Randi exposes the liars by staging several elaborate hoaxes leading to the expose of a faith healer and winning him the 1987 MacArthur “Genius” Award. The film won the Audience Award at the 2014 AFI Docs Film Festival.

“These two films represent the rich and nuanced real-life stories happening across Florida that attract some of the best filmmakers in the country to follow their narratives,” said Michael Tuckman, director of programming for the Key West Film Festival.

Short Films are celebrated this year with two programs of films made by South Florida filmmakers and curated by Kareem Tabsch, co-founder of the art house O Cinema.  Among the many films are two from South-Florida native Bernardo Britto, one of Filmmaker Magazine’s “25 Faces of Independent Film.” Britto’s short Yearbook, won the prestigious 2014 Sundance Jury Award for Best Animated Film and The Places Where We Lived was named Best Short Documentary at AFI Docs, both will be shown at this year’s festival

Other highlights of the Florida program include South Beach on Heels, a documentary that follows the lives of eight drag queen entertainers onstage, backstage and offstage including RuPaul’s Drag Race contestant Latrice Royale. It won Best Feature Documentary at the 2014 Madrid International Film Festival. Also featured will be Ectotherms a film by Miami’s own Monica Pena, assistant director of the art cinema Miami Beach Cinematheque. Billed as a “no-budget hybrid film” the non-professional cast takes the viewer on a journey through their daily lives in Miami — showcasing the city’s punk scene, Cuban influences and muggy, buggy Florida Everglades swamps.

“South Florida is home to a great deal of natural beauty and a lot of natural talent as evidenced by this wonderful slate of Florida-based films.  The Key West Film Festival is committed to highlighting, supporting, and celebrating the films and filmmakers who call the Sunshine State home,” said Kareem Tabsch, programmer of the Festival’s Florida Focus section. 

With a great representation of films from the Sunshine State at this year’s festival, these real life documentaries are sure to elevate this year’s schedule to new heights.



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