Fort Lauderdale Film Festival

Watch an intelligent film for once.

Although the Fort Lauderdale Film Festival is geared more for adults, I think that it will greatly interest people who love independent film, filmmaking, foreign films, and documentaries or even those who are just curious about it.

This festival does not show your regular blockbuster Hollywood film and then compare how many millions each movie has made over the weekend. In fact, it’s not about that at all.

It’s about the art of storytelling on screen. Aren’t movies about that – telling stories through moving pictures? Enticing the viewer to suspend disbelief and enter the lives of the characters on the screen. Films shown here can also be about issues that are current or something you’ve probably never heard of.

The prestigious Fort Lauderdale Film Festival, running now for the past quarter of a century, attracts celebrities and many independent filmmakers from the United States and from all over the world. The festival usually shows about 200 films during the month-long event at different venues.

I do have a soft spot for this festival. I’m personally fond of watching foreign and independent films from time to time. After a while, the mainstream film industry tends to produce movies that are not completely satisfying. The large budgets and special effects sometimes get overdone and simply get in the way of the actual story.

Watching an indie or foreign film can sometimes make me feel as if, for a couple of hours at least, I’m transported to the other side of the globe. One of the films I’ve discovered at the festival a few years back, and now one of my favorites, is The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (La Scaphandre et le Papillon) directed by Julian Schabel.

It is a visually mesmerizing film that tells one man’s story of life and death and what matters most when we are alive. The movie was set in France and for a few hours I felt like I was there, living the drama along with the characters. Now that’s good storytelling.

Not all the films presented during the festival are so serious (although truthfully many of them are). The festival also shows films for younger children. These movies come from all over the world and they get the kids acquainted to the culture of foreign and independent film.

Outdoor films for the whole family to enjoy are also planned during the festival. Hopefully they’ll repeat the BOO-tacular Halloween event for kids at the Cinema Paradiso this year.

The Cinema Paradiso is the headquarters of the film festival. The art house theater building started its life in 1905 as a First Methodist Church. One of its latter transformations was as a theater run by Vinnette Carroll, an influential African-American actress, writer and director of Broadway.

The Fort Lauderdale Film Festival started showing films in the building in 1997 and renamed it Cinema Paradiso. Over the years, the film festival has grown and now shows festival films all over the county.

Throughout the year, along with regular film showings and other programs, the Cinema Paradiso hosts FAB! Films for Kids. This event is sponsored by Funding Arts Broward, and takes place every first Saturday of the month at 10 AM. The movies shown are varied ranging from animated to educational to classic fun.

Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival
October 22 – November 11, 2011

Cinema Paradiso
503 Southeast 6th Street,
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301
Telephone: 954-525-3456

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