Actor Jason Alexander of Seinfeld fame, will be honored with the Career Achievement Award on Friday, November 7 at the 29th annual Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival (FLIFF) Opening Night film, the East Coast Premiere of Lucky Stiff, in which he stars with Pamela Shaw (also attending). Lucky Stiff marks the first time the festival debuts with a musical comedy. Directed by Christopher Ashley, the zany and fast-paced Lucky Stiff follows a down and out British shoe salesman who, in order to receive his inheritance of $6 million, must fulfill his deceased Uncle’s request of taking him for the best time of his “life” in Monte Carlo for a week of fun, sun, dancing, and gambling. Book writer/lyricist, Lynn Ahrens adapted her clever 1988 New York stage hit for the screen with additional songs written by her and composer Stephen Flaherty.
Selected as the Centerpiece Film, is the Southeast premiere of Frank vs God, a light-hearted, uplifting story of a former lawyer, David Frank. Unable to move past the loss of his wife, he had all but given up…that is until a tornado not only destroys his house but, takes his beloved dog Brutus. When the insurance company deems the loss an “act of God,” David becomes desperate and decides to serve God…with a lawsuit. In attendance are stars Henry Ian Cusick (TV hit series LOST) and director Stewart Schill.
FLiFF closes on Sunday, November 23, with the Southeast Premiere of dark comedy, Just Before I Go, the feature film directorial debut of actress Courteney Cox (Friends, Cougar Town). Seann William Scott (American Pie franchise) stars as Ted Morgan, who’s on the verge of giving up on life. Before he does, he decides to return to his hometown one last time to confront some old demons.
FLiFF line-up for the 2014 event will feature over 175 American Independent and World Cinema features, shorts and documentaries will premiere. The Sunshine Celluloid segment will highlight film by Florida talent. There are 34 World Premieres, 12 U.S Premieres, 27 East Coast and 16 Southeast.
Feature films on the lineup include the World premieres of Oro Verde (Switzerland) directed by Mohammed Soudani, Foreign Land (USA-Mexico) directed byRafi Girgis, Love Thy Nature ( USA-Brazil-Namibia-British Virgin Islands) directed by Sylvie Rokab , Every Child Counts ( Bahamas-Canada), directed by Wendy Loten.
U.S Premieres include Arabani (Israel) directed by Adi Adwan, Lost in Karastan (Georgia) directed by Ben Hopkins, La Casa Ausente (The Absent House), (Puerto Rico-USA-Switzerland) directed by Rubén Abruña, Non Present Time (Lithuania) directed by Mykolas Vildziunas and Papita, Mani & Toston (Venzuela) directed by Luis Carlos Hueck.
East Coast Premieres include Gone Doggy Gone (USA) directed by Kasi Brown & Brandon Walter, Healing (Australia) directed by Craig Monahan, FLiFF’s opener Lucky Stiff (USA) directed by Christopher Ashley, Sombras de Azul (Cuba-Mexico-USA) directed by Kelly Daniela Norris.
Southeast Premieres include: Centerpiece Film Frank vs God (USA) directed by Stewart Schill, Amka and the Three Golden Rules (Mongolia) directed by Babar Ahmed, Human Capital (Italy) directed by Paola Virzi, Charlie’s Country (Australia) directed by Rolf de Heer, Inside Out: The People’s Art Project, (France-Israel-Abu Dhabi-USA) directed by Alastair Siddons, Jersey Shore Massacre (USA) directed by Paul Tarnpool, FLiFF’s closer Just Before I Go (USA) directed by Courtney Cox, Manos Sucias (Colombia) / directed by Josef Kubota Wladyka. Shunned (Philippines/USA) directed by Janice Villarosa, Two Bit Waltz (USA) directed by Clara Mamet, and Traitors (Morroco) directed by Sean Gullette.
The Southeast Premiere of director Paulo Virzi’s Human Capital, the Italian Candidate for the Foreign Language Oscar 2015, is a slick, stylish drama about the destinies of two families irrevocably tied together after a cyclist is hit by a jeep the night before Christmas Eve.
The Florida premiere of The Imitation Game features Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley in the a historical thriller about Alan Turing, a genius who pioneered modern-day computing and is credited with cracking the German Enigma code. However, Turing was prosecuted for homosexual acts which The U.K deemed illegal in 1952.
Big In Japan, from director John Jeffcoat, a semi-fictionalized rock ‘n roll road movie, featuring the band Tennis Pro, is based loosely on actual events and told with rollicking humor with a fresh narrative approach and guerrilla production style.
Director Sean Gullette attends the Southeast Premiere of his film, Traitors. Tangiers is the launching pad for this intoxicating, slick suspense ride into desperation and ambition.
The Salvation, a Florida Premiere directed by Kristian Levring, stars Mads Mikkelsen (The Hunt) as a peaceful American settler who revenges his family’s murder in this Danish western which is just as compelling as Eastwood’s Unforgiven.
Under The Same Sun, is the story of two businessmen – one Palestinian and one Israeli – who struggle to set up a solar energy company to communities in the Palestinian territories. The film was produced by Amir Harel, an Oscar nominated Israeli producer for Paradise Now, and directed by Sameh Zoabi, a leading Palestinian film-maker.
Directed by Alexandre Coffre, The Volcano, is a fun, fast moving comedy starring Danny Boon and Valerie Bonneton as two divorcees who must swallow their pathological hatred for each other and hit the road together if they are to make it in time to their daughter’s wedding. The Southeast premiere is an extension of French Week.
Winter Sleep took the 2014 Cannes Film Festival’s coveted Palme d’Or. The richly engrossing and ravishingly beautiful Turkish drama, directed by Nuri Bilge, is about three people with marital issues whose animosities are fueled when they are inescapably isolated in a small mountain hotel as the snow begins to fall.
Fascinating Documentaries include: An Honest Liar, directed by Justin Weinstein and Tyler Measom, is about deception and the life of world-famous magician, escape artist and master skeptic, James ‘The Amazing’ Randi.
The South Florida Premiere of Shunned, from Filipino-American director Janice Villarosa, is a no holds barred look into the lives of transsexuals (male to female), in the Philippines. The film documents the rejection and attacks of violence within the society and transition to what it takes to be a woman.
FLiFF hosts the Florida Premieres of two documentaries with a focus on remarkable women.The Empowerment Project: Ordinary Women Doing Extraordinary Things is the incredible journey of 5 female filmmakers driving across America to encourage, empower, and inspire the next generation of strong women to go after their career ambitions. Director Sarah Moshman and executive producer will attend. I know a Woman Like That, directed by Elaine Madsen and produced by daughter/actress Virginia Madsen, features interviews with extraordinary women over the age of sixty-five.
Sammy: The Journey is the incredible story of child Holocaust survivor, Sam Harris, the instrumental force behind the building of the 65,000 square foot Illinois Holocaust Museum and Educational Center, of which he is President Emeritus.
FLiFF premieres several ambitious Florida films. Among them are: Short film, Tom In America, directed by Flavio Alves stars Oscar nominees, Burt Young and Sally Kirkland. The foundation of a 50 year marriage is rocked when the husband confesses to being gay. The film marks the first time Burt Young, from the Rocky franchise, has played a gay man in his career.
City of Memory by local filmmaker, director Robert Adanto and producer Gabriel Tyner, explores the ways in which the cataclysmic events in the wake of Hurricane Katrina became imprinted on the memory of the visual artists who lived through them. Adanto and Tyner head the Film & TV program at University School of Nova Southeastern University.
The Art of Community, directed by Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale film professor, Tas Salini, looks at a unique initiative led by the Community Foundation of Broward in bringing people together through civic engagements and by utilizing the arts in solving issues and problems important to the communities.
The first of two shorts in FLiFF’s Salute To Veteran’s special program is Rudy +Neil Go Fishing, directed by Abigail Tannebaum Sharon, and filmed in the Everglades, Aventura and Davie. The short doc is a touching story about Neil – a hairdresser and tournament fisherman, and Rudy, a U.S. soldier with PTSD who go fishing for therapy. The second short doc, And Great Showers of Tears Came Down, by Miami filmmaker, Dalton Narine, underscores themes about spirituality, suffering and fate, as a Marine’s tough slog in Vietnam attests to horrific experiences.