Film Profiles by Mike Halterman

The Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival (FLIFF), recognized as a top destination festival, announces an impressive line-up for the 29th annual event.  Starting Friday, November 7 and running through Sunday, November 23, over 175 American independent and world cinema features, shorts and documentaries will premiere. The Sunshine Celluloid segment will highlight film by Florida talent.  There are 34 World Premieres, 12 U.S Premieres, 27 East Coast and 16 Southeast.

Over the years, FLiFF has presented many of the buzz films that went on to the Oscars. Among the most recent were August: Osage County, Nebraska, Silver Linings Playbook and The Artist.  The fest also pays tribute to both celebrated and aspiring film talent.

This year’s FLiFF honorees include Clara Mamet for the Star on the Horizon Award. She wrote and directed her first feature, Two Bit Waltz, in which she stars opposite Jared Gilman, her on and off screen mom Rebecca Pidgeon, with David Paymer and William H. Macy. George Hamilton will be given the Lifetime Achievement Award. Hamilton is remembered for Where The Boys Are, and comedies Love at First Bite and his selected festival film – Zorro The Gay Blade.  Daniel Baldwin receives the Renaissance Award for writing, directing and starring in his suspense thriller, The Wisdom to Know The Difference. British filmmaker Mike Downey will be recognized as Producer of the Decade. Downey produced Mohsen Makhmalbaf’s The President, and will attend the U.S. premiere of his film Lost In Karastan, a gentle black comedy about a confused, washed up British film director, Emil, who is invited to make a national epic in an obscure Caucasus republic ruled by an eccentric and corrupt dictator. All will receive their honors at the Chairman’s black-tie Awards Gala, November 21.

Actor Jason Alexander will receive the Career Achievement Award November 7 at FLiFF’s Opening Night film, the East Coast premiere of Lucky Stiff, in which he stars with Pamela Shaw (also attending).  Lucky Stiff marks the first time the festival debuts with a musical comedy. Selected as the Centerpiece Film is the Southeast premiere of Frank vs. God. FLiFF closes with the Southeast premiere of dark comedy, Just Before I Go, the feature film directorial debut of actress Courteney Cox (Friends, Cougar Town).

Robin WilliamsA Special Tribute to Robin Williams

Although Robin Williams is no longer with us, his spirit and unmatched talent will live for the ages in film and TV. FLiFF will pay tribute to the beloved comedian and actor Robin Williams with a montage of his career and a special screening of A Merry Friggin’ Christmas, one of the last films he made.  In the vein of the classic National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, A Merry Friggin’ Christmas takes the modern day dysfunctional family to extreme and hilarious heights, and with no shortage of holiday spirit.


A Sampling of Films

Over 175 films will debut at the Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival in the coming weeks. Here are profiles of six films that might be of particular interest to you.

Lucky StiffLucky Stiff

(Opening Night Film, Friday, November 7, 7:30 p.m. at the Amaturo Theatre, Broward Center for the Performing Arts, 201 SW 5th Ave.)

(Two extra showings screen on Monday, November 10 at 8:45 p.m. at Cinema Paradiso Hollywood, 2008 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood; and on Saturday, November 22 at 6:30 p.m. at Miramar Cultural Center, 2400 Civic Center Pl., Miramar)

If you like musicals and laugh-a-minute comedies, this is a movie that you’ll definitely appreciate. A down-on-his-luck shoe salesman learns he is the sole inheritor to his uncle’s $6 million fortune! He must go to Monte Carlo and follow his deceased kin’s wishes as explicitly stated, or the money goes to a dog home in Brooklyn. Little does he know that four people have followed him to the gambling capital to make sure he doesn’t get the money — and that they walk away with it!

Country: United Kingdom

Written by Lynn Ahrens and Michael Butterworth

Directed by Christopher Ashley

Cast: Dominic Marsh as Harry, Nikki M. James as Annabel, Pamela Shaw as Rita, Dennis Farina as Luigi, Jason Alexander as Vinnie

An Honest LiarAn Honest Liar

(Saturday, November 8 at 2 p.m. at Cinema Paradiso Hollywood. Sunday, November 9 at 1 p.m. at Cinema Paradiso Fort Lauderdale, 503 SE 6th St.) 

This documentary focuses on the life’s work of James “The Amazing” Randi, well-known magician and the world’s foremost skeptic. For decades he has prided himself on busting psychics and tricking faith healers, even going undercover to prove his point and get a good story. Interviews with Randi are interspersed with commentary from magicians and noted fans. The documentary asks the question, “What is deception?” Randi, who came out publicly at the age of 81, has one surprising secret up his sleeve!

Country: USA

Directed by Justin Weinstein and Tyler Measom

Cast: James “The Amazing” Randi; also featuring Deyvi Pena, Adam Savage, Penn & Teller, Bill Nye, Alice Cooper, Ray Hyman, Michael Shermer, Richard Wiseman, Jamy Ian Swiss, Banachek (Steve Shaw), Michael Edwa


(Sunday, November 9 at 9 p.m. at Cinema Paradiso Fort Lauderdale. Thursday, November 13 at 9 p.m. at Cinema Paradiso Hollywood)

Filipino-American filmmaker Janice Villarosa left her job as a certified public accountant to produce this full-length documentary, focusing on the plight of transgender women in the Philippines. After two years of research and interviews, Shunned is ready for its debut. These women go to all lengths possible to become “perfect.” While on their path, they reveal their secret heartbreak, detaiing familial rejection and attacks from groups of men in this devoutly Catholic nation.

Country: Philippines

Directed by Janice Villarosa

Cast: Mimi Juareza, Katrina Manlangit, Fiona Solis, Alma Masricotes, Keena Cabiling, Candy Tiamzon, Berry Barinan, Vanity Banks

The Imitation GameThe Imitation Game

(Wednesday, November 12 at 7 p.m. at Cinema Paradiso Hollywood. Wednesday, November 19 at 8 p.m. at Cinema Paradiso Fort Lauderdale)

This movie, sure to be a Hollywood blockbuster, screens at FLiFF a week before its nationwide release. It is based on the real-life story of Alan Turing, the mathematician, cryptanalyst and computer scientist who cracked the Nazis’ secret code and helped Britain and the rest of the Allies win World War II. Joan Clarke proves her mettle by joining Turing’s team (as the lone female). He comes to terms with his homosexuality, which he has to keep secret since it is illegal.

Country: United Kingdom

Written by Graham Moore from the book by Andrew Hodges

Directed by Morten Tyldum

Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch as Alan Turing, Keira Knightley as Joan Clarke, Matthew Goode as Hugh Alexander, Rory Kinnear as Nock, Allen Leech as John Cairncross, Matthew Beard as Peter Hilton, Charles Dance as Commander Denniston, Mark Strong as Stewart Menzies

Frank vs. GodFrank vs. God

(Centerpiece Film, Saturday, November 15 at 8 p.m. at Cinema Paradiso Hollywood. ) 

David Frank is a lawyer who is offbeat and…cranky sounds like a good descriptor but it may be an understatement! When he tests fate one too many times, a tornado comes to his town and levels his house. Upon finding out that his insurance policy doesn’t cover “acts of God,” he sticks it to The Man Upstairs by taking him to court! As the case gets its day in front of a judge, Frank prepares his arguments, but nothing compares to the journey of self-realization he will take as a result of his lawsuit!

Country: USA

Written and Directed by Stewart Schill

Cast: Henry Ian Cusick as David Frank, Ever Carradine as Rachel

Just Before I GoJust Before I Go

(Closing Night Film, Sunday, November 23 at 5 p.m. at Cinema Paradiso Fort Lauderdale)

Courteney Cox (Monica from “Friends”; Jules from “Cougar Town”) makes her FLiFF debut as a director with this feature, which is a dark comedy that dares to find the humorous and irreverent side of death. Ted, a thirtysomething man who feels like his life is going nowhere, decides to give it all up and plan his suicide. Before he does so, he wants to get a few things off his chest, so he travels to his hometown where he has memorable (to say the least!) encounters with the people who know him the best.

Country: USA

Written by David Flebotte

Directed by Courteney Cox

Cast: Seann Willian Scott as Ted, Olivia Thirlby as Greta, Garret Dillahunt as Lucky, Rob Riggle as Rawly, Kate Walsh as Kathleen

FLiFF Special Events and Signature Parties 

On Friday, November 7, FLiFF’s opening night party starts at 9:30 p.m. at Off The Hookah (111 SW 2nd Avenue, Fort Lauderdale).

Sunday, November 9 is the ever popular Chairman’s Brunch Cruise, a two-hour excursion down the Intracoastal Waterway.  Boarding is at 9:30 a.m. for the 10:00 a.m. departure from 2670 E. Sunrise Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale. Cinema Paradiso-Lauderdale hosts a French soiree, starting at 4 p.m., prior to the French comedy The Volcano. Join the French Consul General Philippe Létrilliart, Executive Director of the French-American Chamber of Commerce, Pascale Villet, and Manager of Partner Relations and Development with Air France, Claire Jacobs.

On Friday, November 14, at 9:30 p.m., after the Centerpiece Film will be screened, there will be a party at the Sunrise Civic Center Theater (10610 W. Oakland Park Boulevard, Sunrise). FLiFF will hold the 2nd Annual Chairman’s Awards Gala at The Diplomat Resort on Friday, November 21 at 7:30 p.m. (3555 S. Ocean Drive, Hollywood). Movies, Martinis and Popcorn will be held on Saturday, November 22 at Miramar Cultural Center and ArtsPark (2400 Civic Center Place, Miramar). The schedule is as follows: Amka and the 3 Golden Rules at 12:30 p.m.; Pembroke Circle at 2:30 p.m.; Gone Doggy Gone at 4:30 p.m.; Lucky Stiff at 6:30 p.m.; and Papita Mani Toston at 8:30 p.m.

Saturday and Sunday, November 22 and 23: Join Daniel Baldwin at the screening of his film, The Wisdom to Know the Difference, on Saturday at 9 p.m. at Cinema Paradiso-Lauderdale and Sunday at 6 p.m. at Cinema Paradiso-Hollywood. Join Clara Mamet at the screening of her film, Two Bit Waltz, on Saturday at 6 p.m. at Cinema Paradiso-Hollywood and on Sunday at 3 p.m. at Cinema Paradiso-Lauderdale. On Sunday at noon at Cinema Paradiso-Lauderdale, join George Hamilton at his tribute screening of Zorro The Gay Blade. The Wrap Party is on Sunday at 7 p.m. at the Atlantic Hotel (601 N. Fort Lauderdale Beach Boulevard). There is a special tribute and screening of A Merry Friggin’ Christmas at 7 p.m. on Sunday at Cinema Paradiso-Hollywood and 7:45 p.m. at Cinema Paradiso-Lauderdale.

Tickets are available in advance online at www.FLiFF.com  or by calling the box office at (954) 525-3456. Prices are as follows: for regular screenings, $6 (FLIFF/Members), $8 (seniors/students) and $10 (general admission); for special screenings, $10-$25 depending on whether there is a pre or post-reception; opening night gala, $30 (members) and $35 (non-members); centerpiece party, $15 (members) and $20 (general admission); wrap party, $30 (members) and $40 (general admission); and FAST Passes, which include admission to all films, $395 (members) and $450 (non-members).

For additional filmmaker guests, events, parties and receptions, please check the schedule online at www.FLiFF.com.