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Palm Beach Film Festival Perseveres

Written by: FFT Webmaster | March 15th, 2011

Despite intense economic challenges and a precipitous cut in cultural funding, the Palm Beach International Film Festival, one of the best regional festival on the circuit, is persevering with an exciting program planned for later this month. Longtime Festival honcho Randi Emerman continues to push on for quality and diversity for local audiences in Palm Beach County, an area on Florida southeast coast that perhaps has the greatest disparity between wealth and poverty in the nation. Cultural budgets and support from sponsors has been a challenge for all arts events, but it is especially true in Florida, where high unemployment and descending property values have created a crisis of epic proportions.

PBIFF (, to be held from March 23 to 31, celebrates its 16th edition with a strong program of films from around the world as well as a number of special events. This year’s program boasts 11 World Premieres, 3 U.S. Premieres and 14 Florida Premieres, with features, features, documentaries, shorts and student films hailing from the U.S., Netherlands, Italy, France, England, Russia, West Africa, Israel, Australia, Liberia, Czech Republic, Canada and Greece, and will play host to filmmakers, producers, and actors to represent and discuss their films.

Opening Night kicks off with Win Win, directed by Tom McCarthy and starring Paul Giamatti as a disheartened attorney who moonlights as a high school wrestling coach and stumbles across a star athlete through some questionable business dealings while trying to support his family.  The film, which played to rave reviews at the Sundance Film Festival, also stars Amy Ryan, Melanie Lynskey, Jeffrey Tambor and Burt Young and will be released by Fox Searchlight in late March.  The Festival will close with The First Grader, directed by Justin Chadwick and stars Naomie Harris, Tony Kgoroge and Sam Feuer. The film, which had its debut at the Telluride Film Festival, is the true story of an 84 year-old Kenyan villager and ex Mau Mau freedom fighter who fights for his right to go to school for the first time to get the education he could never afford.

Richard Jenkins

The Festival will resume its gala, now titled Silver Screen Splash on Friday evenin March 25 at the swanky Boca Raton Resort, where “actor’s actor” Richard Jenkins will receive the Golden Palm Award.  Jenkins, who received an Academy Award nomination for his highly-praised performance in director Tom McCarthy’s The Visitor, is one of the most in-demand character actors in Hollywood, having made over sixty feature films.  In addition to having received critical acclaim for his role in The Visitor, Jenkins was most recently seen starring alongside Julia Roberts and Javier Bardem in Eat, Pray, Love, directed by Ryan Murphy, as well as in the cult teen vampire film Let Me In, written and directed by Matt Reeves.  Next, he will be seen in Jonathan Segal’s Norman, Drew Goddard’s highly-anticipated thriller Cabin In The Woods, the Farrelly Brothers’ comedy Hall Pass, Friends with Benefits for Screen Gems and Lawrence Kasdan’s new film Darling Companion, opposite Diane Keaton, Kevin Kline and Dianne Wiest.

“We are thrilled about this year’s line-up,” PBIFF Director Randi Emerman said in a prepared statement.  “It’s rich with diversity, with themes ranging from romance, comedy, teen peer pressure and anger issues to gay themes, films with Jewish themes and tolerance…there’s even an Oscar winner – Strangers No More (for Documentary Short). We have something for everyone and encourage people to take this opportunity to look through the unique lens of independent film, take a walk in someone else’s shoes and experience other parts of the world!”


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