North Florida filmmaker brings “Falling South” to the Jacksonville Film Festival


Filmmaker Lorraine Portman reported to Historic City News that some of the North Florida cast and crew of “Falling South” will be in attendance at Saturday’s screening, including film editor Jay Pennington and production assistant Amanda Davidson, both of whom are well known to the city’s 48 Hour Film Project participants.

Portman has been part of the Florida film community for nearly two decades. From graduate student to award winner, she’s thrilled to bring her short film “Falling South” home to North Florida audiences in the “Home & Abroad” program on Saturday, September 15 at 7:15 pm in the Hicks Auditorium-Main Library at 303 N. Laura Street in downtown Jacksonville as part of the 2018 Jacksonville Film Festival programming.

“Falling South” premiered in the Cayman International Film Festival in July 2017, where James V. Hart also presented her the Paul Schrader Best Screenplay Award. The film has been touring festivals and winning awards nationwide in the year since.

Portman herself has been winning awards as far back as her student film days (you’ll even find her among previous JFF winners). She taught playwriting and screenwriting at Flagler College in Saint Augustine for 10 years. She holds a bachelor’s in theater from Smith College and a master’s in film from Florida State University. Portman also attended the National Theater Institute at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center. She has written and directed seven short films and a feature film. Her screenplays have been placing in national and international competitions.

The cast of “Falling South” is rich with talent, although more geographically scattered. It’s the first starring role for actor Madeline Barr, who is a graduate of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts Experimental Theatre Wing. Barr is the niece of Philip Seymour Hoffman. She followed in his footsteps, attending Tisch; he was a mentor and supportive of her training.

Other “Falling South” cast members include Marlyn Mason and Eric T. Miller. Mason is loved the world over by Elvis fans as his leading lady in “The Trouble with Girls,” and she’s also appeared in classic shows such as “The Odd Couple” and “Bonanza.” Miller calls NYC home and has appears on “Elementary,” “Person of Interest” and “The Black List.”

Both cast and crew represent a diverse group, with women in key positions. Director of photography Diana Matos has extensive camera credentials including “Younger,” “Ghostbusters” and “House of Cards,” and she’s been a department head on independent features. Matos has been NYC-based but lives in her home town of Miami.

In addition to Pennington’s full-time video editor role at Channel 4 News4Jax, his extensive screenwriting credits include an award-winning turn as the writer-director of one of the best festival films of 2014, “Ocean Pond.” Davidson was also a founding partner at Jacksonville’s own Martini Shot Casting, which cast dozens of historical look-alikes and most of North Florida itself when the script called for more than 3,500 North Florida-based extras — and ultimately won a casting EMMY — for HBO’s “Recount” in 2007; the casting company is still going strong in Jacksonville, although Davidson has moved on and is now a full-time writer and editrix.

There are worlds in this film that have never been explored on screen before — North Florida in particular is vividly and beautifully portrayed.

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About the Jacksonville Film Festival:

“Falling South” will screen for audiences in the “Home & Abroad” program on Saturday, Sept. 15 at 7:15 pm at the Main Library at 303 N. Laura Street 32202 in downtown Jacksonville, Fla. as part of the 2018 Jacksonville Film Festival programming. Friday evening, September 14th, the festival kicks off with a red carpet event and films at 6:00 pm. On Saturday, the red carpet opens at 2:30 and films start at 4 pm. All events are at the Main Branch of the library.

About “Falling South”:

Filmed during a 2,000-mile road trip in October 2016, the cast and crew shot on location in Niagara Falls; Rochester, N.Y.; Chattanooga, Tenn.; Tennga, Ga.; Crescent City, Pomona Park and Pierson, Fla. During the shoot, Hurricane Matthew hit Florida and the filmmakers arrived to sets and found locations riddled with downed trees and base camps without air conditioning and water. But the hardships don’t show on screen. “Falling South” has been recognized with a number of awards including Best Overall Foreign Short, Audience Choice Award for Short Film, Best Produced Screenplay, Best Short Film, Best Director, and the “Every Woman Award” for best film about women’s experience. Several individual actors have been recognized with awards for their performances and Matos has also earned recognition for her cinematography.

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