Still trying to plan the perfect Valentine’s Day? Whether you’ve got a special someone to spend it with—or are still on the lookout—Miami-area residents have a unique opportunity to turn the typical “dinner and a movie” date into something much more with the Romance in a Can Film Festival. Now in its second year, the Romance in a Can Film Festival puts a unique spin on the “genre fest” that we’ve seen so often with horror, sci-fi and comedy. Though based in Miami, Romance in a Can is a truly international event. Kicking off on February 10th, the festival will screen features from all over the world—including France, Belgium, Spain, Italy, Finland and the gold old U. S. of A.
MM caught up with festival organizer Isabelle Landman just a few days before the event to find out what sparked the idea for the fest—and to get her pick for the most romantic movie of all time.
Jennifer Wood (MM): We’ve seen festivals of every genre—horror, sci-fi, comedy, you name it. But a romance film festival is pretty new. Why do you think it’s never really been done before? What made you confident in taking the leap that it could be a successful venture?
Isabelle Landman (IL): I think people are tired of war and violence and thought that it would be a nice thing to have people interested in European films and independent filmmakers. Romance would be a theme that draws the most important audience according to ratings I’ve heard about. I also wanted to show how romance and love are translated to the screen and viewed in other countries.
MM: The festival is founded by Red Chemistry, Inc., a nonprofit group with the mission of promoting the work of little-known and independent filmmakers. How does the Romance in a Can Festival fit into the organization’s mission?
IL: We mostly screen independent filmmakers and films that are not distributed in the U.S. yet: This year especially, we even made an effort in promoting the work of young filmmakers who up until now were unknown in the U.S.. And even the older filmmakers famous in their countries are unknown here: Gabor Herendi for Lora—A Story of Love, the Finnish movie Year of the Wolf, Polish filmmaker Lech Majewski for Garden of Earthly Delights, etc.
MM: This year will mark the fest’s second event. How has the event evolved over the last 12 months? How do you expect to see it continue to change?
IL: We’ve sold tickets in advance, which did not happen last year. The media, organizations, the City of Miami Beach and consulates are much more aware of what is at stake: Promoting the European culture through love.
MM: What’s great about the fest is that it’s a truly international event. This year’s fest will kick off with a silent Dutch film, False Waltz, and the Belgian film, The Perfect Match. France, Italy, Spain, Finland, Germany, Denmark and the U.S. will all have film entries, too. How does the idea of a romance film differ between countries? How do some of the films you’re screening this year stray from the typical Hollywood love story that’s familiar to so many of us?
IL: None of these movies are connected to our “global” consumerist civilization. None of them is typical and each culture reflects a gap between typical American movies and independent European films. They really reflect how the theme of love is depicted in different countries.
MM: How do you address the unfortunate saddling of most romantic movies as “chick flicks?” Do you find that the fest attracts a larger female audience?
IL: The film fest attracts an extremely diverse and mixed audience from students to couples to singles (both male and female) to retired people. We don’t particularly attract a female audience because these films are very unique and don’t really belonging to the “chick flick” category at all. Especially when you watch a Hungarian film about Hypnosia, a Kurdish film about national identity’s loss, a Slovenian film about love and death, a Polish film about the work of Jerome Bosch—they really cannot be called “chick flicks!”
MM: Obviously, romance is in the air at the Romance in a Can Film Festival. Do you do anything special for singles in the audience? A good bout of speed-dating before the feature, maybe?
IL: Not really, we do not gear toward singles. We want to attract people in love with independent films and craving for their European roots. Especially in Miami, we are hoping to attract a very International audience and we do not promote a “singles” movie night for Valentine’s Day for example.
Our audience also reflects the diversity of our local population—a substantial portion of our audience is gay. And “Romance” In A Can does not necessarily mean romance in the typical sense, many of the films are about love but they are dark, featuring more complicated relationships translating the culture of the countries.
MM: Finally: You’re the experts. So tell us: What’s the most romantic movie of all time?
IL: Probably Gone With the Wind for the U.S. and so many different films from Europe.
For more information, visit http://www.romanceinacan.com/.