Just a few short years ago, the Stock Island Film Festival was an idea that was “kind of tongue in cheek, since its acronym is STIFF,” said Program Director Quincy Perkins, whose jest is becoming reality this year. He explains, “We wanted to program edgier content that a guest might not see at the Key West Film Festival, which is more classic film.” Perkins’s oeuvre includes “Swingers Anonymous,” which debuted at Cannes Film Festival in 2015. He also is director of local programming for the Key West Film Festival, whose self-described mission is “to showcase films that capture Key West’s essence: Creativity, Diversity, Sustainability, and Beauty.”
Perkins laughs: “I think it’s figuring out what Stock Island’s essence is.” The selections for the film festival “play off a lot of the infamous stories of Stock Island, and some of the films are about fishermen in the ’70s and ’80s. There was a group of guys that would fish for sharks in South Beach. Even though it didn’t take place in Key West, it’s totally Stock Island, and gritty.” Perkins is referencing the documentary “Rene de Dios and the South Beach Shark Club,” about a man who was known as a master of shark fishing in 1970s South Florida.
“South Beach Shark Club” is one of many films that will be featured at the Perry Hotel and Coast on Stock Island over the weekend of Thursday to Saturday, June 7-9. It’s the inaugural year of the Stock Island Film Festival, having grown out of conversations and dreams of the team behind the Key West Film Festival. Perkins says: “It’s basically three days of short films and parties, and it’s just going to be lots of fun.” While serious fun, STIFF is also to be taken seriously. Billy Corbin, director of “Cocaine Cowboys” and “Square Grouper,” will offer a sneak peak of his upcoming feature “A Sunny Place for Shady People,” as well as host the concluding award ceremony with Quincy Perkins. They will hand out awards for Best Comedy and Documentary, the “Square Grouper” Audience Award, the Perry Student Award, and the “Silver Stiffy” and “Golden Stiffy” for best local film and best all-round potential, respectively.
Perkins bills the programming as highly as the festivities: “I watch probably close to 1,200 short films a year, and this is really the best program of shorts I have put together in my life. I think we show a total of 30 short films … and every single one of them across the line is absolutely fantastic.” STIFF will feature local filmmakers, including shorts like “Chainsaw Cheerleaders of Bone Island” by Billy Rivera, as well as shorts by locals Joe Madaus and Scooby Perez. While the content has some focus on the Keys’ reputation of tropical criminality, there’s a lot that falls under the umbrella of “edgier” content. Perkins said, “There’s a great film called ‘Acid Test’ that Jennifer Waldo made, and it’s the best representation of a person on an acid trip that I’ve ever seen. It’s on June 9.” The Stock Island Film Festival will be “docking illegally” at the Perry Hotel (7001 Shrimp Rd.) and Coast (803 Whitehead St.). Tickets are available at: filmfreeway.com/keywestfilmfestival/tickets
By Sarah Thomas