By Ray Pride

Key West Film Festival “Critics Focus” Program Taps Top Critics Ann Hornaday and Eric Kohn to Curate Films; “Brett Ratner Florida Student Filmmaker Scholarship” Announced

New York, NY — The Key West Film Festival announced today a new annual Critics Focus program in which the nation’s top film critics will be invited to curate spotlight selections. This year, Ann Hornaday, Chief Film Critic of The Washington Post, and Eric Kohn, Chief Film Critic of Indiewire, will attend and host audience Q&As with the talent from the films they have selected, which will be announced at a later date. Also announced today is the new annualBrett Ratner Florida Student Filmmaker Scholarship. The festival runs in Key West, Florida from November 18 to 22.

As part of the Critics Focus program, some of the nation’s most respected film critics will be invited to curate spotlight films at the festival. Participating critics will be will be invited to return to the festival, as new critics are invited to curate films each year.  The program further marks the Key West Film Festival as a new and vital stop on the fall festival circuit, and is designed to support film criticism while giving audiences greater context and perspective around films through public conversations guided by expert voices.

Program Director Michael Tuckman states, “We want to put a spotlight on film criticism, and support it. Because of the shifting media environment, there are fewer film critics today. Critics have historically supported films and film festivals, and at Key West we want to give back by building a more dynamic relationship between our curated films and the film criticism community, creating a forum for open discussion and the exchange of ideas between real audiences and top critics.”

Ann Hornaday comments, “I’m honored to be invited to participate in the Critics Choice program at this year’s Key West Film Festival. With film criticism facing a number of challenges in a rapidly changing media landscape, it’s gratifying to join a community of film lovers who value what critics can bring to the conversation.”

Eric Kohn, who also serves on the festival’s advisory board, says, “I’m thrilled to participate in the Key West Film Festival’s Critics Choice program to help provide more context for authentic moviegoers as they are given the chance to uncover great movies in a festival environment.  Over the past two years that I’ve had the pleasure of attending the Key West Film Festival, the one thing more impressive than the luxurious weather and beach conditions is the enthusiasm of the audiences at every screening. These aren’t jaded industry insiders, but delightful, colorful personalities from all walks of life who are genuinely excited to discover new movies. It’s this type of attitude that sustains the value of critics as tastemakers today.”

Local film critic for The Key West Citizen, Shirrel Rhoades, will also present a film and will lead a panel discussion of the attending critics.

The Key West Film Festival’s annual Brett Ratner Florida Student FilmmakerScholarship will begin this year, with a $5000 scholarship award given to a Florida student filmmaker chosen from six participating Florida colleges and universities. Born and raised in Miami Beach, Ratner is one of Florida’s most cherished filmmakers and will present the award to the winning student at a special ceremony at the Festival. The scholarship is designed to put a spotlight on aspiring Florida filmmakers, giving their unique local vision and heritage a national stage.

Brett Ratner states, “I’m thrilled to be coming home to where I first started making films in order to support and recognize the next generation of Florida filmmakers at this vibrant festival.”

Festival Venues include the historic San Carlos Institute, where the campaign for Cuba’s independence from colonial powers was planned in 1892.  The Key West Film Festival has equipped the San Carlos with DCP technology, and it will host gala screenings.  Other screening venues include Eaton Street Theater, the Waterfront Brewery and additional venues to be named later. Host venues for social events include the Hemingway Home and Museum, the Waldorf Astoria Casa Marina, and the Southernmost Mansion.
Visit for full program information, a schedule of events, and travel and lodging details.

About the Key West Film Festival

Creativity, diversity, sustainability and beauty. The Key West Film Festival is an annual celebration of film and filmmakers, set to take place November 18-22, 2015.

A diverse, entertaining and artistically rigorous selection of films will be represented through a broad array of categories that offer opportunities for filmmakers, both aspiring and established, to commune and exchange ideas with each other while showing their work to audiences in an historic and artistically vibrant tropical paradise.


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It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon