By Elizabeth Rahe
From the opening-night screening of Michael Moore’s Where to Invade Next at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Nov. 6 to the Wrap Party at the Ritz-Carlton Nov. 22, the Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival celebrates the art of cinema – this year for the 30th time.
As always, stars and filmmakers accompany the screenings, participating in Q&A sessions, receptions and parties. Michael Moore, Ed Harris, Christopher Lloyd, Loretta Swit and Estelle Parsons are a few of the luminaries expected to attend. (Editor’s note: Michael Moore canceled his live appearance at the Hard Rock Live debut of the Fort Lauderdale Film Festival, but he did a post-film Q&A at Hard Rock via Skype. The Academy Award-winning documentary director answered questions after a screening of his new film, ‘Where to Invade Next,’ which opened the festival. The audience interrupted the film – a travelogue-style comparison of (mostly) European systems/lifestyle and the American way – with smatterings of applause throughout; and generated praise and some anger (and shouting) in a short Q&A thereafter.)
The fest highlights its international flavor in a special way, celebrating three dozen countries with food, fashion and film. Countries include Argentina (Betibú), Bahamas (Gentle Giant and When Pigs Swim), China (Dearest), Cuba (Boccaccerias Habaneras), Cyprus (The Magic Beans), France (Le Père Noël), Hungary (Liza, the Fox-Fairy), Israel (Hill Start ), Italy (Latin Lover), Japan (Tokyo Fiancée), Mexico (Cásese Quien Pueda), Netherlands (Accused) and South Africa (When Voices Meet).
More than 160 features, documentaries and shorts play on alternating nights at Cinema Paradiso-Fort Lauderdale and Cinema Paradiso-Hollywood, and other venues host special events.
For more fest highlights, visit cityandshore.com. For a complete list of films, events and ticket prices, visit FLiFF.com or call 954-760-9898.
ONLINE BONUS: FLiFF Schedule highlights
* Opening night, Nov. 6, is a triple-header: The celebration begins at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino with Hard Rock Live showing Where to Invade Next, provocateur Michael Moore’s (Fahrenheit 9/11, Bowling for Columbine) latest documentary in which he travels abroad to discover how other countries deal with social and economic issues. Called lighthearted and optimistic, the film screens at 7 p.m., and Moore will participate in a Q&A session and attend the party at Kuro. Metallica bassist Robert Trujillo is expected at the 9 p.m. Hard Rock Live screening of JACO, a documentary he produced about jazz musician, composer and bass player Jaco Pastorius of Weather Report fame. (Pastorius died in Fort Lauderdale in 1987 after an altercation at a nightclub.)
Also on Nov. 6, Christopher Lloyd (Back to the Future, The Addams Family), is expected at the Cinema Paradiso-Fort Lauderdale screening of The Boat Builder, in which he plays an embittered mariner who bonds with a young orphan while building a boat. Lloyd will receive a Lifetime Achievement Award at the event, which begins at 8 p.m. Cinematographer Dean Cundey (Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Back to the Future trilogy, Apollo 13) will also receive a Lifetime Achievement Award. A party follows in the CPL Courtyard.
* On Nov. 7 at Cinema Paradiso-Hollywood (9 p.m.) and Nov. 8 at Cinema Paradiso-Fort Lauderdale (8:30 p.m.), Gil Bellows (Shawshank Redemption, Ally McBeal) and Tony Pantages will introduce the film they co-wrote and co-directed, 3 Days in Havana. Bellows plays Jack Petty, a man in Havana on business who gets embroiled in an assassination conspiracy.
* Loretta Swit (M*A*S*H) is the special guest at Cinema Paradiso-Fort Lauderdale on Veteran’s Day, Nov. 11, for the 5 p.m. screening of Never the Same: The Prisoner of War Experience, which she narrates. The documentary details the trials and survival tactics of American prisoners of Imperial Japan during World War II. Told through stories in the men’s diaries, the film features the voices of Ed Asner, Alec Baldwin, Jamie Farr, Mike Farrell, Kathleen Turner, Sam Waterston and other stars. A 4:30 p.m. cookout will honor U.S. veterans, and films will screen all day. At 7:30 p.m. the Villa DePalma estate will be the setting for a M*A*S*H party.
* Director, screenwriter and producer Bobby Roth (Independence Day; Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman; The Mentalist) will teach a master class Nov. 14 at Cinema Paradiso-Fort Lauderdale, beginning at 10 a.m. with Breakfast with Bobby in the CPL Courtyard.
* Bonnie and Clyde screens 4:30 p.m. Nov. 14 at Sunrise Civic Center Theater, and the 1967 film’s Best Supporting Actress Oscar-winner, Estelle Parsons (Rachel, Rachel; Roseanne), will receive a Lifetime Achievement Award. A party follows.
* Candy Clark, who won a Best Supporting Actress Academy Award for the 1973 film American Graffiti, will receive a Career Achievement Award at Cinema Paradiso-Fort Lauderdale Nov. 14. The film screens at 5:15 p.m. followed by a Mel’s Drive-In party in the CPL Courtyard.
* The Westin Diplomat Resort & Spa in Hollywood will host the Chairman’s Awards Gala Nov. 21, beginning at 6:30 p.m. Ed Harris (The Right Stuff, The Abyss) will present director/screenwriter and Florida State University professor Victor Nuñez (Ulee’s Gold, Ruby in Paradise) with the inaugural Florida Prize for pioneering and emerging filmmakers. Harris starred in the Nuñez 1984 film A Flash of Green. Harris’ wife, Amy Madigan, (Field of Dreams, Twice in a Lifetime) will also attend. Harris is also expected at Cinema Paradiso-Fort Lauderdale screenings of The Adderall Diaries, 8:15 p.m. Nov. 20; and A Flash of Green, 2 p.m Nov. 21.
* The closing film on Nov. 22 is The Wannabe, inspired by true events about would-be mafioso Thomas (Vincent Piazza of Boardwalk Empire) and his girlfriend (Academy Award-winner Patricia Arquette, Boyhood) and their crime-ridden odyssey. It will screen at 6 p.m. at Cinema Paradiso in both Fort Lauderdale and Hollywood. The wrap party follows at the Ritz-Carlton, Fort Lauderdale.