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Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival

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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.




The Life Of A Character Actor

Wednesday, October 25----Life can be hard for a character actor. The same ability that the actor has to totally disappear into a role is the same drawback that he has in creating a distinct personality on the stage or screen. Such are the paradoxes explored in the fascinating documentary portrait THE LIFE OF REILLY, which focuses on the long and varied career of character actor Charles Nelson Reilly. The film screens twice on Thursday (a FREE Senior Matinee at 2:00pm and an evening screening at 7:50pm) and a final screening on Friday at 6:30pm at the Cinema Paradiso.

Directed by Barry Poltermann, the alternately moving and hilarious portrait is a filmed adaptation of Reilly's touring one-man show, where he reviews his checkered career and reflects on his life in and out of Hollywood. THE LIFE OF REILLY was photographed for the screen during Mr. Reilly's final two performances of his play in North Hollywood, California.

Reilly's childhood was the stuff of gothic surrealism. Born in the Bronx in 1931, his younger years, spent in New Haven, Connecticut, were anything but conventional. His father was institutionalized for acute depression, his mother was a explicit racist, his aunt received a frontal lobotomy and he grew up as the obvious and only gay boy on the block. At age 13, he was in the audience during the Ringling Bros. Circus tent fire in Hartford, Connecticut on July 6, 1944, which claimed the lives of 168 people. He was saved by an older sister, who lowered him from the side of the bleachers.

When he fatefully decided to pursue a life in the theater, Reilly faced some major challenges. He was not exactly leading man material, with his gawky height and cherubic face. However, he went on to find fame on Broadway in a number of character parts (the staple for actors with less than matinee idol looks). In 1962, he won Broadway's highest honor, a Tony Award as Best Supporting Actor for portraying Bud Frump in Frank Loesser's musical comedy hit HOW TO SUCCEED IN BUSINESS WITHOUT REALLY TRYING. He was nominated two years later in the same category for his role opposite Carol Channing in Jerry Herman's major success HELLO DOLLY (1964).

Carol Channing

Later his in career, the actor switched to directing plays, including working with his friend Julie Harris in her Tony Award winning role as poet Emily Dickinson in THE BELLE OF AMHERST. He received a Tony Award nomination in 1997 for working with Harris again in the revival of THE GIN GAME.

His movie career began with small roles in the late 1960s, but eventually he became a "go to" actor for his patented trademark of being the fey, convulsive hysteric, who provided instant comedy relief. He was particularly in demand for his distinctive voice in animated films including CHARLOTTE'S WEB (1973), ALL DOGS GO TO HEAVEN (1989), ROCK A DOODLE (1991), BABES IN TOYLAND (1997) and TOM AND JERRY (2006).

Audiences know him best for his television appearances on the games shows THE HOLLYWOOD SQUARES and THE MATCH GAME, where his outrageous humor and "hissy fit" histrionics gained him a legion of loyal fans. He was nominated for an Emmy Award three times for his television work, in THE GHOST AND MRS. MUIR (1970), MILLENIUM (1996) and THE DREW CAREY SHOW (1995).

Reilly was quite serious about the art of acting. He was a longtime teacher of acting at HB Studio, the acting studio created by Herbert Berghof and his wife, Uta Hagen, in New York. Those who attended his workshops knew him as a serious and literate man, miles away from the hysterics and loonies he played on the screen.

Audiences who come to see the filmed version of his one-man show will discover an artist devoted to his craft, amidst the entertaining retelling of his life and career....a tale of pathos, celebrity name-dropping and hilarious one-liners.

Sandy Mandelberger
Festivals 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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