March 14, 2014

Gabrielle Tillenburg’s short film Fantasy Land will be screening during the Florida Film Festival in Winter Park next month. The film follows the UCF alumna’s journey to revisit Disney’s Magic Kingdom and explore her childhood relationship with her now-deceased father, with the hope of discovering whether those memories were just fantasies.

Tillenburg, who graduated in August with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in film, narrates the nine-minute autobiographical essay film while candid scenes of Tillenburg, Disney princesses, attractions, tourists, ferry boats and candy shops, among other typical Magic Kingdom sights, progress on the screen in a dream-like sequence.

The idea for the film was based on a photograph Tillenburg remembered from her childhood, in which she and her father were in Magic Kingdom meeting Baloo from The Jungle Book. Throughout the film, Tillenburg is waiting to see whether her mother will find the photograph in their family albums.

Fantasy Land premiered at UCF in May at the year-end documentary workshop screener and was screened in February at the Love Your Shorts Film Festival in Sanford.

Fantasy Land is Tillenburg’s fourth short film; the first three she directed were Orange Ave., Sedative for Sleep and Autumnal Eternal. While all three dealt primarily with female characters who had some of her personal qualities, this is her first completely autobiographical film, Tillenburg said.

“It’s completely different to literally place yourself in the film and not do it through characters; it was pretty hard, but in the end it worked out pretty nicely,” Tillenburg said.

Tillenburg’s narration touches on a wide variety of topics, including her relationship with her father, Tom Sawyer, censorship, a particular bird species, Disney’s The Jungle Book and an employee packaging cotton candy.

Fantasy Land will be screened on Sunday, April 6 and Wednesday, April 9 at the Regal Winter Park Village theater.

The film had UCF beginnings, as it was produced for associate film professor Christopher Harris’ spring 2013 documentary workshop class.

That semester, Harris tried a new version of the documentary workshop course that focused on non-fiction essay filmmaking.

“[Essay films] touch on a range of different subjects in order to connect them and make a sort of larger, sometimes more abstract point,” Harris said. “For me, the most important thing about the essay film is that it’s a personal film that directly addresses the viewer.”

The documentary essay film is a form of filmmaking that allows filmmakers creative freedom to express their perspectives on a mixture of personal, social and public matters in a conversational manner.

“It’s a really different form that I hadn’t experienced working in before … so it was interesting to approach my first documentary in this type of way that was completely foreign,” Tillenburg said.

The camera work was done by Leland Gorlin, a fellow UCF graduate who earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in film in May 2013.

“We had to pretend like we were regular guests, and that kind of lent itself to the rawness of it, like the little shakiness and kind of quick shots,” Gorlin said.

Filming in a sort of incognito manner, Gorlin often recorded with the Canon 7D DSLR from his hip, while he and Tillenburg pretended to be tourists in order to avoid running into problems with Disney’s staff and its corresponding regulations on filming productions in the park, Gorlin said.

Their work may pay off because the Florida Film Festival is an Oscar-qualifying festival. From April 4 to April 13, 170 current, independent and international films will be screened along with Tillenburg’s film.

Tillenburg currently works for Knowlera Media, an online media company in the Washington, D.C., area. Tickets for the documentary American Jesus will include the Fantasy Land screening, which will open for American Jesus. Tickets can be purchased on the Florida Film Festival’s site. To keep up with the short film, follow @FantasyLandDoc on Twitter.

See the original article from Central Florida Future.