The Palm Beach International Film Festival (561-362-0003) is undergoing a facelift. Now entering its twenty-first year, the festival has new leadership, new goals, and a new theater.
“We want to bring film back to Florida,” says Jeff Davis, a veteran Broadway and film producer who took over as PBIFF’s president and CEO earlier this year. Davis wants to help attract moviemakers to the state and get area students more involved with the event. His biggest contribution to PBIFF so far has been facilitating the purchase and renovation of the former Plaza Theatre in Manalapan.
“I [thought]: Wouldn’t it be nice to take these two entities, merge them together, and give them a new shot of blood and new shot of life?” he says. “We renamed [it] the Palm Beaches Theatre because it needs to include all of Palm Beach. It belongs to the town.”
The 275-seat theater has been converted into a movie house that will be the hub of action for the 2016 festival, taking place April 6-14. It will host the first two days and the last two days of films and will also be the staging area for filmmakers and press.
PBIFF may last only nine days, but Davis wants the organization to have a year-round presence. Last month, the festival introduced a $5 movie program at the Palm Beaches Theatre. From Thursday to Saturday, visitors can attend a screening of a classic movie, accompanied with vintage Movietone News newsreels and comedy shorts. Industry classes and live performances round out the festival’s revamped offerings.
Photo by Larry Richman