Film festival line-up boasts multiple links to Florida


A Dean Emeritus from the University of Florida; a Jacksonville-born man who fought racial inequality; a film about the State foster care system with a writer/cinematographer who went to Apopka High School; and St. Augustine residents who became patrons of a film – the common thread of Florida connects these people, places or subjects, which will be highlighted during the 7th annual St. Augustine Film Festival.

These offerings are a few of the 40 films from 20 countries that will be shown over the three-day festival Jan. 20–22 at several downtown St. Augustine locations.

Gregory von Hausch, President and CEO of the St. Augustine Film Festival and the Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival, said this year’s offerings cover a wide range of genres and topics.

“We have romantic comedies, mysteries, drama and documentaries from Argentina to Taiwan,” von Hausch said. “We’re also pleased to be showcasing Florida through the lens of several people and events to a degree we haven’t done before.”

Some of the Florida-centric films include:


This film tells the little-known true story of the American origin of the Israeli Air Force in 1948 and the improbable group of World War II veterans who risked their lives and citizenship to give the newborn state of Israel a chance to survive.

The documentary is narrated by William Baldwin and includes footage of Ralph Lowenstein, Dean Emeritus of the College of Journalism, University of Florida. Lowenstein will attend the screening.


Audiences will get a special preview of a documentary about Stetson Kennedy, a Jacksonville-born man who waged a lifelong war against racial inequality, institutional segregation and social injustice. Unable to ignore the intolerance around him, he went undercover in the 1940s to infiltrate the Ku Klux Klan and fed information to a nationally broadcast show to expose them.

Director Mark Moormann from South Florida and Sondra Park, the widow of Stetson Kennedy, will attend the screening.

‘Foster Shock’

This film takes a firsthand look at what happens to children when they are taken from abusive families and become dependents of the State of Florida.

The documentary features interviews with some of Florida’s finest professional child welfare experts. Director Mari Frankel lives in West Palm Beach, and the writer, cinematographer and editor Brian Bayerl will attend the screening.

Bayerl attended Apopka High School in Orange County and studied at Florida State University. Bayerl will also screen the documentary he directed called “Datuna: Portrait of an Artist.”


Directed by Jeremy Workman, the documentary follows Matt Green, a former civil engineer, who spent several years walking every street of New York City and doing research on everything he sees.

It’s planned to premier in 2018, however, the 2017 St. Augustine Film Festival will host an evening presentation of the work-in-progress with both Green and Workman in attendance. The two will present scenes from the film, and Workman will invite the audience to comment on them and offer their reactions and thoughts.

The presentation provides an opportunity to see behind the curtain of the filmmaking process and hear from the creators during the making of a major documentary.

As a bonus to this event, Green will also lead a walk around St. Augustine at 10 a.m. Jan. 20 starting from the Lewis Auditorium. During the walk, participants will see the city in ways they never expected.

The backstory: in January 2014, when Workman visited the St. Augustine Film Festival with his award-winning documentary “Magical Universe,” he met St. Augustine residents Allen and Catherine Altman. The couple became intrigued by his work and soon decided to become involved in this documentary on Green and his most amazing walk.

Advanced purchase of film passes and galas is required.

Tickets are available to purchase online for Lewis Auditorium screenings. Same-day tickets will be available 10 minutes prior to films, subject to availability.

For information on all films, locations, film passes and gala events, go to