State to award 10 acres of swamp land

Some film fests present trophies or certificates. A few offer cash prizes. But Florida — the home of Disney World, the Elian Gonzalez flap and endless election recounts — is handing out something unique to one lucky filmmaker: swamp land.

In celebration of its 10th anni, the Florida Film Festival has created the Florida Forever Filmmaker Award, which includes 10 acres of land adjoining the Green Swamp in central Florida.

Fest prez Philip Tiedtke announced that the June 8-17 gathering will salute a filmmaker whose work “best represents the human condition and its relationship with our planet.”

As a reward, each winner for the next three years will be given 10 acres of Florida swamp land.

According to the fest, the winners will be granted “conservation easements.” This means that technically, he or she won’t own the land, but it will be protected in perpetuity in her/his name.

The Green Swamp is of particular importance to the state’s supply of drinking water. And, in a state that’s had to deal with Elian, the Super Bowl and endless election recounts, everyone wants to make sure there’s nothing wrong with the drinking water.

In addition, a winner of the Grand Jury Prize will be handed a package worth over $100,000. Fest organizers hope this award will encourage filmmakers to make their next pic in Florida, since the prize includes goods and services donated by such local companies as Universal Studios Florida Production Group, Kodak, Haxan Films, Orlando post-production house Century III and Panavision.

Headquartered at the not-for-profit Enzian Theatre near Orlando, the Florida Film Fest is dedicated to independent film. Deadline to submit entries is March 23. For more information, go to www.floridafilmfest.com

Emphasizing that the land is “a natural resource vital to us all,” Tiedtke said, “We hope that the Florida Forever Filmmaker Award will help bring attention to the fact that Florida’s swamp land is no longer a punch line.”

Well, in some circles it still is.

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