When the projectors begin shining on screens across Palm Beach County for the Palm Beach International Film Festival, it will be for a very special anniversary. Fo 20 years, PBIFF has been bringing provocative films from some of the newest and most exciting filmmaking voices in the industry today. Over the years, PBIFF has screened more than thousands narrative feature and short films, celebrated filmmakers and actors like Anthony Hopkins, Edward Norton, Burt Reynolds, and Salma Hayek, to name but a few, and brought to the forefront pressing concerns with its expertly curated contingent of documentaries screened each year.
For its twentieth year, PBIFF has strived to out do itself, no small task, with 138 narrative features, feature-length documentaries, shorts and music videos from filmmakers from 26 countries, equating to 12 world and 15 U.S. premieres. With 45 narrative features, 36 documentary features and 41 short films—plus the year of the Jewish Experience, a selection of films dedicated to a Jewish/Israeli-centric point of view—PBIFF has earned a strong foothold as one of the top 25 independent festivals in the world.
- This year, films will be screened at the Cinemark Palace 20 in Boca Raton, Cobb Downtown at the Gardens, and Muvico Parisian 20 and IMAX at CityPlace. (For a complete listing of films and the schedule, click here.) From March 26 to April 2, screenings of all the films will take place at locations throughout Palm Beach County, with special presentations, screenings and film seminars dotting the events calendar. Tickets costs $10.75 per screening; ticket packages range from $175 to $1,000, for details, click here.
The short film programming has especially been bolstered this year, with eight different programs set to screen at both Muvico Parisian and Cobb Downtown theaters. Program themes range from the lighthearted with an offering of comedies (Funny Bone), to empowering, with programs dedicated to female empowerment (I Am Woman), LGBTQ shorts (Pride Comes Out) and a collection dedicated to overcoming adversity (Facing the Challenge), as well as to the future, with the Student Showcase of Films. For a complete listing of PBIFF’s shorts and screenings, click here.
So what to watch this year? Here’s a few to mark your calendar:
March 26 | Opening Night
The opening film this year was a huge get for the festival. Welcome to Me stars Kristen Wiig as a woman with a borderline personality disorder who wins the lotto. The dark comedy follows self-obsessed Alice (played by Wiig), as she purchases her own network talk show, centered around her.
The opening night party will begin with a screening of Welcome to Me at Muvico Parisian 20 at 7 p.m., followed by an after party at Revolutions at 9 p.m. Tickets cost $75, which includes access to the screening and party, bowling, cocktails and more.
April 2 | It’s a Wrap
Closing this year’s festival will be the film While We’re Young. Written and directed by Noah Baumbach, and starring Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts, While We’re Young explores how aging and ambition affects a couple in their mid-forties, as they attempt to recapture their youth by befriending a young couple in their 20s.
The wrap party will begin with a screening of While We’re Young at Cinemark Palace 20 at 7 p.m. on April 2, followed by an after party and award ceremony at Yoko-San Fusion Restaurant. Tickets costs $75, which includes admission to the screening and wrap party, as well as cocktail and hors d’oeuvres.
On the local front, a number of films will be representing Palm Beach County:
The romantic-comedy, Marriage Material, based in West Palm Beach, centers around Iris Carsen (played by Victoria Jackson), a consignment shop owner, who strives to marry her daughter, Molly (played by Maddy Curley), to a wealthy Palm Beacher.
- Screening: Tuesday, March 31 at 8:30 p.m., Cobb Downtown at the Gardens.
Set in the cookie cutter neighborhoods of South Florida, the thriller Pembroke Circle unfolds of dark story of abuse and coping. Grace, a girl in her early teens, is forced to take on the role of surrogate parent after the death of her mother, taking care of her younger brother and father. When her father brings a foreign maid into the home, dark secrets begin to unravel.
- Screening: Tuesday, March 29 at 7:30 p.m., Cobb Downtown at the Gardens
The Palm Beach County Film and Television Commission’s sponsored film, Hidden Assets features directorial debut of local writer/director Jacquelin Journey. The film, a crime thriller, is based in Palm Beach County and follows the story of a self-made woman entangled in a web of deceit, betrayal and greed.
- Screening: Friday, March 27 at 8 p.m., Cobb Downtown at the Gardens; Wednesday, April 2 at 5 p.m., Muvico Parisian 20
If you’re looking for the most bang for your local buck, the Voices of Local Film shorts program has you covered. Consisting of three shorts, Good Health Hunting is actually a reality-teleiviosn pilot focusing on the practice of local doctor, David Vastola, and some of his more colorful patients. Mama Needs a Ride, directed by Matt Florio, takes a seat with Franky and Elmo, the Don’s go-to guys as they try to deal with his rather vicious mother. And finally, the icing on the program’s cake, a hilarious swede version of RoboCop.
- Screening: Sunday, March 29 at 6 p.m., Cobb Downtown at the Gardens