The projectors will be whirring at a ferocious pace April 12-19 when the Palm Beach International Film Festival (PBIFF) comes to town for its 17th annual running, screening more than 100 features, documentaries and short films at five different locations throughout Palm Beach County (COBB Downtown at the Gardens, DeBilzan Gallery, Lake Worth Playhouse Stonzek Theatre, Mizner Park Cultural Arts Centre, Muvico Parisian 20 at CityPlace). PBIFF celebrates the creative endeavors of newest and emerging voices in the world of film, this year showcasing 25 world premieres and 14 U.S. premieres, including films not only from the U.S., but the Netherlands, Spain, Argentina, Tanzania, Italy, France, England, Israel, Thailand, Guinea-Bissau, Portugal, Australia, Canada, Romania and Sweden.
Though film festivals have begun to sprout in just about every urban center throughout the country, PBIFF has established itself as one of the upper echelon among the milieu of film festivals, receiving various accolades including being named one of the top 10 destination film festivals in the world (2007) as well as one of the top 25 Independent Film Festivals in the world by Movie Maker Magazine, the nation’s leading magazine on the art and business of making movies. An interesting mix of independent and foreign feature films, and shorts, as well as a well-rounded grouping of documentaries, a genre that seems to be in vogue as of late, the PBIFF brings to life a side of the film industry that is often overshadowed by big summer blockbusters and Hollywood’s insistence of producing sequels. Film festivals give filmmakers an opportunity to showcase their work in a constructive arena, allowing for their work to speak for itself, and perhaps be discovered at the same time. They are a vital part of the growing film industry, where the newest voices and latest techniques are practiced and perfected for film buffs.
PBIFF not only gives filmgoers an opportunity to be the first public viewing of many of these independent films but also offers a chance to meet the filmmakers, producers and actors who created the work of art. Much of the talent behind the films make an appearance at the screenings, getting a rare opportunity to get an honest, real-time reaction to their work as they not only watch their film on the big screen but the audience in the theater (so be on your best behavior folks, we have company). This year more than 20 filmmakers will be attending screenings at various locations, with audience Q&A’s scheduled after the screening, giving filmgoers an opportunity to discuss the film in an art-house atmosphere, something rarely seen in Palm Beach County.
And though the films are the real draw at PBIFF, the parties are not a bad time either. This year’s opening night (Thursday, April 12) not only includes a screening of the all-star casted film Robot & Frank, but the opening night party is taking on a sky-high theme, with a rooftop party at Two City Plaza. Attending will be Robot & Frank Director Jake Schreier and Producer Sam Bisbee, as well as a slew of filmmakers and talent from the more than 100 films presented at the 17th annual PBIFF.
- On Friday, April 13 the premiere of Brother’s Keeper will screen at the Muvico Parisian at CityPlace, with an audience Q&A with directors Josh Mills and T.J. Amato, and actor Daniel Samonas immediately following. Other films showing on April 13 with filmmaker Q&A’s include: Let Go, Money and Medicine, Best Little Whorehouse in Rochdale, Three Days of Hamlet, Genius on Hold, True Bromance, and Nailbiter.
- Saturday, April 14 includes the fan favorite Weekend of Shorts, featuring more than 40 short films at the Lake Worth Playhouse Stonzek Theatre, running from 12-8 p.m. At 7 p.m. at COBB Downtown at the Gardens, the world premiere of Zombie Hamlet takes to the Silver Screen, followed by Q&A with June Lockhart and director John Murlowski. Other films showing on April 14 with filmmaker Q&A’s include: Lunch Hour, Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life, Salam Rugby, Crocodile in the Yangtze, Broadway’s Finest, Love Free or Die, and Pig.
- Sunday, April 15 continues the Weekend of Shorts at the Lake Worth Playhouse with three times scheduled: 12, 6, and 10 p.m. PBIFF heads to The Lake Pavilion on the Waterfront for the Silver Screen Splash, which will honor Hollywood legend June Lockhart, as well as serving a waterfront brunch, 10 a.m.- 12 p.m. Violins in Wartime will be the featured screening at 4 p.m. at the Mizner Park Cultural Arts Centre, with a Q&A with director Yael Katzir and performance by violinist Ida Haendel immediately following. The Gallery Screenings will present an evening of music and art videos at the DeBilzan Gallery in Delray Beach at 8 p.m. Other films showing on April 15 with filmmaker Q&A’s include: My Mother’s Idea, Shelter Island, John Portman: A Life of a Building, eMANNzipation, One Revolution, and The Silent Thief.
- PBIFF continues on Monday, April 16 with the featured premiere of Tiger Eyes, the first of author Judy Blume’s novels to be brought to film. An audience Q&A with Judy Blume and director Lawrence Blume will follow the presentation. Other films showing on April 16 with filmmaker Q&A’s include: Broadway’s Finest, Best Little Whorehouse in Rochdale, Nailbiter, Pig, and Let Go.
- A VIP reception will be held at BREATHE Restaurant & Ultra Lounge in Delray Beach on Tuesday, April 17, where filmgoers can hobnob with filmmakers following a day of cinematic gold. Films showing on April 17 include: We’re Together (Estamos Juntos), True Bromance, and Unmasked Judeophobia.
- Films showing on Wednesday, April 18 with filmmaker Q&A’s include: eMANNzipation, Three Days of Hamlet, John Portman: A Life of a Building, Brother’s Keeper, and The Silent Thief.
- PBIFF wraps Thursday, April 19 with the closing night film presentation of Sassy Pants at 7 p.m., followed by a Q&A with writer/director Coley Sohn and producer Adam Wilkins, at COBB Downtown at the Gardens. Following the film, 51 Supper Club & Lounge will host PBIFF’s wrap party, highlighting the festival with award presentations of the Audience Favorite films award. Other films showing on April 19 with filmmaker Q&A’s include: Crocodile in the Yangtzee, Genius on Hold, and Love Free or Die.
- The festival also acts an outlet for the industry to speak out to the public about the problems with video piracy and the affect it is having on the industry and quality of producing as a whole, with the seminar “Movie Piracy in the Digital Age.” On April 14, from 10-11 a.m., guest speakers Jennifer Gomez, an attorney specializing in intellectual property, and Will Buckley, founder of Fareplay, will discuss the ills of the movie piracy and how it affects the viewer, from ticket prices at the box office to the trickle down affect it has on the industry as a whole. Held at: Hyatt Place
Some of this year’s must see films include the opening night’s Robot & Frank, a “dramedy” that follows the odd-couple relationship of a retired smalltime crook as he enters into his twilight years with robot caretaker, aptly named robot.
The chilling The Silent Thief makes the rounds on April 15 (6:45 p.m.) and April 18 (7:45 p.m.), both at Muvico Parisian 20 at CityPlace. A psychological thriller of a lost adolescent as he silently unhinges a family that takes him in.
The comedy Best Little Whorehouse in Rochdale is one part tongue-in-cheek comedy, one part ripped from the “local news headlines,” mixed together for a Full Monty take on the housing crisis and the high costs of the medical industry today, and what it takes to still hold onto that last sliver of the American Dream.
Closing night’s film, Sassy Pants, is a dark comedy of a homeschooled teen finding an unlikely friendship in her father’s younger boyfriend.
There is a milieu of ticket packages, from the Platinum Pass ($500) to General Admission ($10). For the full range of ticket prices and package deals, please visit PBIFF’s website.