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Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival

The Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival (FLIFF) reels out over 200 films from around the globe. Filmmakers and celebrities attend many of the screenings and events during the festival. Parties and gatherings at area "hot spots", on board yachts, and on the beach will provide audiences an opportunity to hob knob with film talent and other movie buffs.




Something For Everyone On Saturday

Saturday, November 4----As the winds howl (South Florida is experiencing a high wind alert this weekend), Saturday's schedule at the Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival is certainly a full one, with back to back films at the Cinema Paradiso and Parker Playhouse that appeal to all tastes and sensibilities. It is expected to be an exhausting day for Festival staff and visiting filmmakers, but a satisfying one.

The full day of events begins quite lyrically with a free screening at 9:45am of the multi Oscar winner THE SOUND OF MUSIC (1965), the filmed adaptation of the beloved Rodgers and Hammsterstein musical about the Von Trapp Singers of Salzburg, Austria. The film was a major blockbuster in its day, surpassing such earlier box office champs as GONE WITH THE WIND and BEN HUR, as the most successful in history. That record went unchallenged until the 1970s, when films such as JAWS and STAR WARS became the first mega-box office sensations.

Another film classic, George Steven's panaromic GIANT, based on a best selling novel by Edna Ferber, brings the drama and romance of the Lone Star State into beautiful widescreen, with terrific performances by Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson and, in his last performance, the iconic James Dean. The film was nominated for 12 Academy Awards in 1956, winning only one in the end, for director George Stevens. They don't make them like this anymore, and audiences wishing to see what the excitement was when the film was released 50 years ago should come to the Cinema Paradiso at 2:45pm and relish in the wide screen splendor of it all.

A trio of American Independent films being shown today showcase the continued vitality and originality of films produced outside the Hollywood system. BIG BAD SWIM, by director Ishai Setton, is a comedy of lust, love, desire, competition and honesty, with a terrific ensemble cast. A group of diverse adults are members of an adult swimming class. Each comes to it with their own set of drives and neuroses. As the characters interact both in and out of class, the film explores the interconnectedness between widely disparate characters of different classes and social backgrounds. This mixed gumbo is, after all, what America is and has always been about. a sharp script by Daniel Schechter compliments this feel good ensemble comedy that does not eschew the eccentric or the trivial. The film has its final screening today at 1:00pm at the Cinema Paradiso.

Comedy is also on tap in director Amy Talkington's delirious comedy THE NIGHT OF THE WHITE PANTS. With a terrific cast led by Tom Wilkerson, Nick Stahl, Janine Turner and Frances Fisher, the film is a zeitgeist comedy about what constitutes success and fulfillment in contemporary America. Wilkerson plays Max Hagan, a Dallas oil millionaire, who is bored with his trophy wife and his three disaffected children. When his soon-to-be-ex forces him out of his mansion, he finds himself tangled in a wild night of sex, drugs and rock-and-roll with his daughter's boyfriend, the punk-rocker/computer programmer (deliciously played by Nick Stahl). Through a night of hilarious hijinks, the bond of even this dysfunctional family becomes strengthened. The film, which had its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival, screens today at 3:00pm at the Parker Playhouse.

Director Sue Kramer makes her directorial debut with the original feature film GRAY MATTERS, a romantic comedy about a brother and sister who find love in the most unlikely of places. The film is executive produced by Oscar winning filmmaker Alexander Payne (SIDEWAYS) and has a stellar cast including Heather Graham (BOOGIE NIGHTS), Thomas Cavanaugh (ED), Sissy Spacek (IN THE BEDROOM) and Alan Cumming (SWEET LAND). A romantic comedy set in New York, the film has the look of a designer fashion show and the panache of a classic Hollywood screwball comedy. The film, produced by the Yari Film Group, the company behind the indie sleeper THE ILLUSIONIST, screens tonight at 9:00pm at the Parker Playhouse, with a pre-screening party at local nightclub China White in downtown Fort Lauderdale.

International cinema is also being honored on today's busy screening schedule, with the Florida premieres of two fascinating films. THE HOLIDAY MAKERS is a wry comedy from the Czech Republic about tourist packages and the diverse people who take advantage of them. A cramped bus of colliding personalities is en route to an Adriatic resort, and the comedy and pathos that ensues from so many different personality types being crammed together is brought to the screen with a knowing flair by writer/director Jiri Vejelek. Anyone who has suffered through this kind of canned vacation will relate to the goings-on, where hormones are in high gear, the food only so-so and the oil and water don't mix. The film screens today at 5:00pm at the Parker Playhouse.

Very few films are actually made in the small Caribbean nation of Haiti, so it is a treat to be able to experience the atmosphere of this complex island nation that is often associated in the news headlines with violence and corruption. The film COUSINES introduces Richard Senecal, one of a new generation of Haitian filmmakers. Senecal focuses his camera on a young Haitian girl who lives a quiet life in Port-au-Prince with her father's friends. Her life drastically changes when her father, who lives in the US, suddenly dies. She then must go live with her cousin, who juggles a dizzying array of male admirers as a way of just getting by. The young woman is forced to find her own way while being the object of attention of a group of different men. The film explores the hard reality, particularly for single women, in a troubled country that offers few credible options. The film, making its US Premiere, screens tonight at 9:00pm at the Cinema Paradiso.

Sandy Mandelberger
Online Festival Dailies Editor

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About Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival

Mandelberger Sandy
(International Media Resources)

Online Dailies for the 24th edition of the Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival , October 23 - November 11, 2009

United States

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