Key West Film Festival at the Tropic

We are proud to be an official venue for KWFF, November 14-18, 2018!

The mission of the Key West Film Festival is to showcase films that capture Key West’s essence: Creativity, Diversity, Sustainability, and Beauty.

The Tropic Cinema is thrilled be a partner venue of KWFF, showcasing great filmmakers from Florida and around the world. Festival highlights include “Roma,” the lauded new film from Alfonso Cuaron; “If Beale Street Could Talk,” Miami-based director Barry Jenkins’s follow-up to the Oscar-winning “Moonlight;” and “Screwball,” the rollicking new documentary from Billy Corben, chronicler of South Florida’s wildest moments.

For a full rundown of festival events, visit kwfilmfest.com. Here’s what we’ll be showing at the Tropic!

Thursday, November 15

5:30 p.m.
St. Bernard Syndicate

Cinematic prankster Mads Brugger plays it straight — relatively speaking — in this comedy about a pair of ill-matched Danes who go into business together: selling St. Bernard dogs to Chinese canine fanciers.
100 minutes
Showing in the Taylor

6:00 p.m.
Chef Flynn

The meteoric rise of a teenage super-chef is captured in textures of light and dark by a filmmaker who is interested in telling more than a superficial story.
82 minutes
Showing in the George

6:15 p.m.
Quincy Perkins’ Select Short Films

65 minutes
Showing in the Peggy Dow Theater

8:00 p.m.
Birds of Passage

125 minutes

Showing in the Taylor Theater

8:15 p.m.
Shoplifters

Japan’s entry for the best foreign-language Oscar embraces the plight of an impoverished family that turns to shoplifting in order to survive.
121 minutes
Showing in the Peggy Dow Theater

8:30 p.m.
Girl

A transgender 15-year-old girl begins her studies at a top Belgian dance academy as she also prepares to undergo transition surgery.
109 minutes
Showing in the George

 

Friday, November 16

6:00 p.m.
Wild Nights With Emily

This witty independent feature from the director of “Codependent Lesbian Space Alien Seeks Same” and “The Foxy Merkins” offers an alternative perspective on the life and myth of the poet Emily Dickinson. Starring Molly Shannon and Amy Seimetz.
84 minutes
Showing in the Carper 

6:15 p.m.
The Guilty

This taut, minimalist Danish thriller is set exclusively within the confines of an emergency call center, where a police dispatcher wrangles with an apparent kidnapping.
85 minutes
Showing in the George

8:00 p.m.
Mapplethorpe

A look at the life of photographer Robert Mapplethorpe from his rise to fame in the 1970s to his untimely death in 1989. With Q&A.
102 minutes
Showing in the Carper 

8:15 p.m.
Burning

Famed Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami’s short story “Barn Burning” is the source for this psychological drama from Lee Chang-dong, the South Korean director of acclaimed films “Secret Sunshine” and “Poetry.”
148 minutes
Showing in the George

11:00 p.m.
Anna and the Apocalypse (w/ short film Riley Was Here)

A zombie apocalypse threatens the sleepy town of Little Haven—at Christmas—forcing Anna and her friends to fight, slash and sing their way to survival, facing the undead in a desperate race to reach their loved ones. But they soon discover that no one is safe in this new world, and with civilization falling apart around them, the only people they can truly rely on are each other.
106 minutes
Showing in the Carper 

 

Saturday, November 17

11:00 a.m.
Gospel of Eureka

The case of Eureka Springs, Arkansas, is a tale of two cities: a fundamentalist Christian strong-hold and a home to a sizable LGBTQ community. The two intersect at the drag bar Eureka Live Underground, whose married gay owners also are faithful Christians.
75 minutes
Showing in the Taylor

11:15 a.m.
World Dramatic Shorts

95 minutes
Showing in the George

1:00 p.m.
The Last Race

“The Last Race” is an intimate portrait of a small-town stock car racetrack and the tribe of passionate blue-collar drivers that call it home, struggling to hold on to an American racing tradition as real estate development threatens its survival.
75 minutes
Showing in the Taylor

1:30 p.m.
Bathtubs Over Broadway

This fanciful doc follows former “Late Show with David Letterman” writer Steve Young down the rabbit hole as he pursues rare recordings and tracks down cast members from so-called industrial musicals, with names like “The Bathrooms Are Coming!”
87 minutes
Showing in the George

3:00 p.m.
Orchestra Class

A French-language spin on “Mr. Holland’s Opus” this is not. Yet the familiar setting makes a good hook for the challenge faced by a French-Algerian violinist who strives to tame and teach a class of boisterous 12-year-olds.
102 minutes
Showing in the Taylor

3:30 p.m.
Bisbee ’17

The citizens of an Arizona mining town near the Mexican border perform a reenactment of a tragic episode in American history: the 1917 Bisbee Deportation.
112 minutes
Showing in the George

5:30 p.m.
World Comedy Shorts

84 minutes
Showing in the Taylor

7:00 p.m.
Burning (Encore Presentation)

148 minutes
Showing in the George

8:00 p.m.
Shoplifters (Encore Presentation)

121 minutes
Showing in the Taylor

Sunday, November 18

11:00 a.m.
Birds of Passage (Encore Presentation)

125 minutes
Showing in the George

11:00 a.m.
Birds of Passage

125 minutes
Showing in the George Theater

11:45 a.m.
St. Bernard Syndicate (Encore Presentation)

100 minutes
Showing in the Taylor

1:30 p.m.
Orchestra Class (Encore Presentation)

102 minutes
Showing in the George

2:00 p.m.
Chef Flynn (Encore Presentation)

82 minutes
Showing in the Taylor

3:45 p.m.
Bushwick Beats

Six stories, six directors, six unique short films, all under the backdrop of Bushwick, Brooklyn, each a different look into the theme of unconditional love. Producer Aleksey Ageyev is a KWFF alum whose short film “Trash Can on the Left” won an award here in 2015.
75 minutes
Showing in the George

4:00 p.m.
Bathtubs Over Broadway (Encore Presentation)

87 minutes
Showing in the Taylor

5:45 p.m.
The Last Race (Encore Presentation)

75 minutes
Showing in the George

6:00 p.m.
1985

Evocative cinematography — in 16mm black-and-white — and an emotionally resonant performance by lead actor Cory Michael Smith, make this story about an uneasy homecoming at the emergence of the AIDS epidemic a powerful one. Also starring Virginia Madsen.
85 minutes
Showing in the Taylor

Not sure which films to see?

Here are Runi's must-see films this year

This year’s KWFF line-up is amazing. Back at the helm, Michael Tuckman, the festival’s steadfast Director of Programming, did a fantastic job of balancing high profile independent films with Florida-made shorts and feature films.

I asked Michael for his “hidden gems” picks; Bathtubs Over Broadway and Gospel of Eureka easily topped his list. Besides his recommendations, I am revved up to see the documentary, The Last Race, which premiered at Sundance, and the South Korean thriller, Burning, winner of the FIPRESCI Prize at Cannes starring Steven Yeun from The Walking Dead series. TBH, I’m still not over Glenn’s death.

I’ve screened a number of films ahead of their release dates this year. Roma, If Beale Street Could Talk, Cold War, Ben is Back, and Shoplifters, make up the bulk of my must-see-films list at KWFF.

 

Roma

Director: Alfonso Cuarón

Best Known For: Y Tu Mamá También, Children of Men, Gravity

Starring: Yalitza Aparicio (debut) and Marina de Tavira

Awards: Golden Lion award for Best Film at the Venice Film Festival, Mexico’s entry for Best Foreign Language Film for the Academy Awards 2019

In theaters December 14, 2018

To say that ROMA is “a film by Alfonso Cuarón” is an understatement. Cuarón wrote, directed, produced, edited, and was also the film’s cinematographer. The result is a deeply personal film. Unlike his other major films, nothing much happens in the day-to-day life of this middle class family and their housekeeper, but Cuarón somehow creates intimacy.

 

If Beale Street Could Talk

Director: Barry Jenkins

Best Known For: Moonlight

Starring: Kiki Layne, Regina King

In theaters November 30, 2018

If Beale Street Could Talk is less of a movie and more of a poem lifted from the pages of James Baldwin’s novel of the same name. With striking visuals and lyrical movement, the film faithfully recreates the story of a pregnant African-American woman, who sets out to clear her fiance’s name and prove his innocence. Although rich and complex, Barry Jenkins may have been a bit heavy-handed and some viewers might find the slow pace a bit … slow. Nevertheless, this film deserves to be seen on the big screen.

 

Cold War (Zimna wojna)

Director: Pawel Pawlikowski

Best Known For: Ida

Starring: Joanna Kulig and Tomasz Kot

Awards: Cannes Film Festival’s Best Director, Poland’s entry for Best Foreign Language Film for the Academy Awards 2019

In theaters December 21, 2018

It’s apropos to describe this masterpiece as sobering. It takes place in 1950s communist Poland where people are sober even when they’re drunk. There is very little romance in that time and in that place, but Pawlikowski’s Cold War makes an honest attempt at achieving romance between two unlikable people if only to crush it at the end of it all.

 

Ben is Back

Director: Peter Hedges

Best Known For: About a Boy, Pieces of April, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape

Starring: Lucas Hedges, Julia Roberts

In theaters December 7, 2018

Ben is Back is a mostly believable family tale dealing with the effects of their son’s drug addiction. Lucas “I’m-in-every-movie-released-in-2018” Hedges was a less interesting choice as the recovering addict son who unexpectedly returns home. On the other hand, Julia Roberts is convincing as a mother grappling with a myriad of emotions conflicted by maternal instincts and personal survival. Frankly, I am just a sucker for Julia Roberts. I can’t resist her.  She carried the film enough for me to enjoy it and possibly enough to earn herself a few nominations.

 

Shoplifters (Manbiki Kazoku)

Director: Kore-eda Hirokazu

Best Known For: Like Father, Like Son

Starring: Kirin Kiki and Lily Frankie

Awards: Cannes Film Festival Palme D’or

In theaters November 23, 2018

If I had to choose just one film to see at this year’s KWFF, it would be Shoplifters. Like Roma, nothing much happens, but there is joy and empathy in every moment of this film. Shoplifters is a celebration of family and a harsh social critique on human suffering.