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September 8, 2000

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This Page is copyright 2000 FLORIDA TODAY.

Sept. 8, 2000

Friday Fest, film festival come together in Melbourne

Fast facts
  • What: The Melbourne Independent Film Festival 2000
  • When: Friday Fest street party from 6 to 11 tonight in downtown Melbourne; full-length feature films shown from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Henegar Center, 625 E. New Haven Ave., Melbourne; VIP Party featuring showing of short films from 7 to 10 p.m. at Henegar.
  • Cost: $5 for day feature films; $30 donation for VIP party.
  • More information: Call 723-8698 or visit 3boysproductions.com
By Breuse Hickman

Before the indie wonder "The Blair Witch Project" put a dent in weekend trailblazing, there was "Under the Bridge." Produced by a few amateur filmmakers from Brevard County, it told the tale of a troll who killed homeless people under an overpass.

While "Bridge" didn't go on to secure Time and Newsweek covers, the film did help spark an interest in starting an annual event aimed at showing independent films in downtown Melbourne.

"Basically, we just had a good time making that film ("Under the Bridge") so we had a showing of it at the Henegar Center (in Melbourne)," said Terrence Cronin, a Melbourne dermatologist and filmmaker. "The premiere was such fun that we thought, 'Hey we should do this more often.' "

And they did.

Last year, Cronin along with fellow filmmakers Jeff Hall and Pat Martin - who collectively make up 3 Boys Productions - expanded that idea by showing more films including another locally produced short called "Crisp."

This year, festival organizers got an added publicity boost via the official event Web site, 3boysproductions.com

"The response has been phenomenal," said Hall, who set up the Web site. "We're getting responses online, and the Henegar Center is taking lots of calls from people who want to get tickets."

Filmmakers also have responded. This year's Melbourne Independent Film Festival is drawing filmmakers from as far away as Australia and England to show and talk up their films. More than 20 feature length films and shorts will be shown during the day.

"We're expecting all the filmmakers to show up and, of course, they all have their separate entourages," Cronin said.

Some of the top contenders include "In Memory of Laura & Purgatory" by M. Frank of Coogee, Australia, "Punctuality" by Joseph Tartaglia of Philadelphia and "Laughing Boy" by Brazil J. Grisaffi of Houston.

The latest MIFF also will be the setting for a world premiere: "The Great Hunger - The Life and Songs of Shane MacGowan" by Mike Connelly of London.

But while Melbourne's film fest might be fortunate enough to experience artistic growing pains, organizers don't aim to compete with Orlando's annual International Florida Film Festival.

"For starters, our event is for charity," Cronin said. "Rather than seek to be on a par with something like the Florida Film Festival or Sundance we are trying to build more of a community interest in independent films. This is a small town, and we want to have something that locals will look forward to attending once every year."

The festival selection committee also has sought films that will most likely support Melbourne's standards.

Hall added: "We're not a huge city so our standards might be a little higher than they would be in a big metropolis such as New York City that might allow anything. We don't want our audiences to be shocked, and we feel they won't be. Some of our selected films do contain adult situations, but it's very minimal."

And, of course, the men behind 3 Boys Productions again have gotten in on their own act. They will present a trailer for a soon-to-be complete "Ghost Hunters of the Space Coast," a documentary about Brevard haunts and the spirits who dwell in them.

"But we're only showing a trailer because the film festival has gotten so big that I didn't want to use it as a springboard for my own projects," Cronin said.

William L. Whitacre, an entertainment attorney based in Orlando, has volunteered to speak and take questions as part of the MIFF 2000 on Saturday. Whitacre has an independent practice representing indie film producers. His clients include Haxan Films, producers of The Blair Witch Project, their new TV series shooting for the USA Network "In Search Of," and other feature films including "Hoover," starring Ernest Borgnine and "The First of May" starring Julie Harris.

Proceeds will benefit Unconditional Love Inc., a free standing, not-for-profit multidisciplinary care center for patients who are HIV positive or who have AIDS.

This year's festival is being held in conjunction with Downtown Melbourne's Friday Fest. Just for the film festival, the monthly street party has expanded its hours - and its streets.

From 6 to 11 p.m., visitors can party along Melbourne's East New Haven Avenue and its joining streets. You can catch performances by Irish music maker Michael Funge, Cajun musician Ash Reeder, Doctor Deruelle, Miami duo Cinnamon & Sugar and local rock band Tin Can Jets.

The cover picture flipped, is The Henegar Center.

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