THE COMEBACK TRAIL starring Robert De Niro
THE COMEBACK TRAIL starring Robert De Niro

More than 170 American Indie and international narrative features, documentaries and short films representing 37 countries, will be showcased at the 35th Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival (FLIFF) scheduled for November 5 – 22, 2020.

FLIFF Kicks-off the 35th annual fest with the premiere of director George Gallo’s comedy The Comeback Trail, starring Academy Award winning actors Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman and Tommy Lee Jones, plus Golden Globe nominated actor Zach Braff (Scrubs). Palm Beach County based actress Kate Katzenberg co-stars along with Emile Hirsch and Eddie Griffin. Gallo, known for Wise Guys, Bad Boys 1 and 2, and Bad Boys for Life co-wrote the film with Josh Posner. He also attended FLIFF in 2006 with his semi-autobiographical tale Local Color, for which he received the Jury award for Best Screenplay.

The Comeback Trail takes us back to 1974 Hollywood where two movie producers find themselves indebted to a crime boss (Freeman). In need of some fast cash, they set-up their aging movie star for an insurance scam to try and save themselves. But, they wind up getting more than they ever imagined.

“If there has been a silver-lining to come out of the Covid pandemic, it has made us more resourceful and creative. This year, FLIFF has come up with some clever ways to bring the community together yet maintain safety precautions and social distancing,” commented Gregory von Hausch, President and CEO of FLIFF. “I think our film selections and events will be a welcome diversion for everyone.”

In partnership with Coral Ridge Yacht Club in Fort Lauderdale, the festival will present a boat-in movie on the bay and a Drive-in movie at their location for landlubbers. FLIFF will be hosting six additional Drive-in movie events at other locations to be announced.

FLIFF is also serving up Dinner & a Movie at a variety of area restaurants including: Tipsy Boar, Jimmy’s Sand Bar, GG’s Waterfront in Hollywood, and Westin Ft Lauderdale Beach. The festival’s two arthouse theaters, Savor Cinema (Fort Lauderdale) and Cinema Paradiso (Hollywood), will also present films with limited seating to observe safe social distancing. For those who prefer to stay at home, most films will also be available to view via Eventive Virtual Cinema. Filmmaker and celebrity Q&A’s will be live-streamed in all formats, and some will take place in person from local venues.


France delivers four comedies. Les Parfums, a “charming, unconventional, odd-couple movie of sorts,” directed by Gregory Mange and starring Emmanuelle Devos and Grégory Montel. Director Martin Provost’s How To Be A Good Wife stars Juliette Binoche as the head of a homemakers’ school for young women in the 1960’s. On the verge of bankruptcy, she decides to join forces with her pupils to overcome their subservient status and become liberated women. Just Like A Woman, directed by Amro Hamzawi, finds a failed writer who undergoes a complete makeover and gets hired as an assistant in a publishing house specializing in erotic romances. Director Adeline Picault’s coming of age comedy, How To Make Out, is about 15-year-old Arthur who has the hots for Ouassima. To get close, he convinces her to teach him and his friends how to make out by paying her 10 euros per lesson.

There are two comedies selected from Italy. Director Massimo Venier’s I Hate Summer, starring famous Italian comedians Aldo Baglio, Giacomo Poretti, Giovanni Storti, as three total strangers on holiday who accidently rent the same house. And, director Giampaolo Monticelli’s rom-com, 7 Hours to Win Your Heart. Serena Rossi stars as Valeria, who teaches the art of seduction to single men and is convinced that relationships are based on simple biological stimuli. Giulio (Giampaolo Morelli) is a journalist who attends her class hoping to win back his ex-fiance. Together they’ll find out if love is an exact science or a mystery with no rules.

Adding to the laughs is Spain’s Bye Bye Mr. Extebeste, from directors Asier Altuna, Telmo Esnal . After a wave of scandals in nearby towns, Patrizio Etxebeste (Ramon Agirre) alleges health reasons and steps down from his position as mayor of the town. Determined not to lose control he names his wife, Maria Luisa, the town’s first female mayor. But Maria Luisa has her own views on how to run a town.

In a follow-up to their 2016 mockumentary hit, King of the Belgians, directors Peter Brosens and Jessica Woodworth return with their clever and witty political satire, The Barefoot Emperor, about total European dissolution and an unremarkable king upon whom the fate of the union rests.

Directed by Konstantin Statskiy, the Serbian comedy, Hotel Belgrade, is about a wealthy heir and owner of the prestigious Belgrade Hotel. When The Belgrade mafia, a crazy bride, an old flame, and quirky family get involved, his leisurely life turns into an adventure where anything is possible.

The Israeli comedy Mossad directed by Alon Gur Arye, stars Tsahi Halevi as Mossad operative Guy Moran and Efrat Dor as CIA agent Linda Harris. The two team up to save the world from the “Really Bad Guys” terrorist organization. Joining Arye as co-writer is superstar writer/director/producer David Zucker, who co-wrote and directed The Naked Gun series and Airplane!, american comedies that served as inspiration for Mossad.

Director Mauricio Leiva Cock’s comedy, Night of the Beast, tells the story of two young metal heads coasting through Bogota’s alleys on the day of Iron Maiden’s first-ever concert in Colombia. All was going smoothly until hoodlums steal their tickets.

From the U.S. comes two dark comedies. Puppy Love, directed by Michael Maxxis, stars Hopper Penn and Paz de la Huerta in the true story of a prophetic young dishwasher with brain-damage and a homeless prostitute. The second is director Adam Carter Rehmeier’s Dinner In America, the tale of an on-the-lam punk rocker and a young woman obsessed with his band who take off on an epic journey through America’s decaying Midwestern suburbs.

David Stubbs’ musical drama Daffodils is inspired by a true bittersweet love story, told through contemporary re-imaginings of iconic hit songs by New Zealand artists including: Crowded House, Bic Runga and Dave Dobbyn, Rose McIver, George Mason, and Grammy winner Kimbra.

Adventures of a Mathematician, directed by Thor Klein,is a biopic starring Jakub Gierszal as Stan Ulam, the Polish-Jewish genius who joined the Manhattan Project at the end of WWII. Ulam was instrumental in the development of the hydrogen bomb and early exploration of computer technology.

Beautiful Dreamer directed by Amy Glazer and starring Wendie Malick, Erin Daniels, and Louis Ozawa, explores the messy secrets and complicated nature of parenthood and the modern family, all the while testing the boundaries of love and friendship and the bioethics of surrogacy.

Ezequiel Radusky’s Argentine drama, The Lunchroom, stars Liliana Juarez and Rosario Blefari as two women who run a staff cafeteria together. When one is promoted, the other becomes envious, upsetting the delicate balance of the office.

From acclaimed director Anne Fontaine comes the French crime drama, Night Shift. When three officers are tasked with escorting an illegal immigrant to Charles de Gaulle airport, where he will be forced onto a plane and sent back to his homeland. When they learn the truth they must make a difficult choice. The film stars Omar Sy, and Virginie Elfira who, in 2017. won Best Actress at FLIFF for her roles in A Sense of Wonder, and In Bed With Victoria.

Nigina Sayfullaeva’s powerful Russian drama Fidelity, is the first Russian film to openly confront the subject of female sexuality. The story revolves around a young woman (Evgeniya Gromova) who suspects that her actor husband has been having an affair. She suffers silently. Without verifying his unfaithfulness, she embarks on a series of random affairs and slowly but surely, her infidelity spins out of control.

Preparations To Be Together For An Unknown Period of Time is Hungarian writer/director Lili Horvát’s haunting and mysterious second feature. Actress Natasa Stork stars as a 40-year-old neurosurgeon who leaves her shining American career behind and returns to Budapest to start a new life with the man with whom she has fallen in love. But… the love of her life claims that they have never met before.

Brazilian director Renato Barbieri’s historical suspense drama, Pureza, takes place in the 90’s, when a mother looking for her missing son finds farms using slave labor practices in the Amazon region.

Perpetual teenager Wayne whisks his son away for one last weekend after losing a custody battle in director Niels Muelle drama,Small Town Wisconsin. What’s supposed to be a light-hearted adventure transforms into a journey of profound redemption.

Under The Stars of Paris, directed by Claus Drexel, stars French actress Catherine Frot as a homeless woman who finds an 8-year-old boy who has lost his mother. Together, they embark on an emotional journey through Paris to find her.


Opeka, directed by Cam Cowan, is about an iron-willed Argentine Catholic priest, Pedro Opeka, who inspires hope for an entire nation by teaching people living in Madagascar’s largest landfill to build a highly functional city.

Through the discovery of never-before-seen archival material, Iranian director Taghi Amirani’s debut feature Coup 53, details the overthrow of the Iranian government and features explosive revelations about dark British secrets buried for 66 years.

The short documentary directed by Freddy Rodriguez, Open Dialogues: Stories From the LGBTQ Community, reveals the diverse coming-out narratives of seven Broward County residents who share their insights about love and family, threats and safe havens, being intimate in public, and the role of religion in the LGBTQ experience.

Director Ramsey Denison’s Money Machine exposes a rigged game of corrupt policing and corporate cover-ups, demonstrating how the deadliest mass shooting in US history became one of the most forgotten.

Warrior Women, directed by Christina D. King & Elizabeth A. Castle, Ph.D, is the story of mothers and daughters fighting for Native rights in the American Indian Movement of the 1970s.

Sapelo, directed by Nick Brandestini, is a feature-length documentary film that journeys within a unique American island to tell the story of two young brothers, their adoptive mother, and the last remaining enclave of the Saltwater Geechee people.

Son of a Sweeper profiles Vimal Kumar, the son of a sweeper—or “untouchable”—in India’s cruel caste system, and his efforts to change the lives of other children of sweepers through education and his “Movement for Scavenger Community.” The film is directed by Lisa Mills, an Associate Professor of Film, Documentary, at the University of Central Florida.

From director J. Mitchell Johnson, Saving North: Rescuing the Wooden Churches of Northern Russia follows renowned British photographer Richard Davies as he sets out to document the glory and tragic demise of the rapidly disappearing wooden churches in this mysterious and insular world.

Director Stefan Rainer’s Boundless Life takes viewers through breathtaking nature shots in the Austrian Alps, into a life full of movement and values, free of limitations,self-doubt, and prejudices.

Director M.A. Taylor’s The Creepy Line reveals the stunning degree to which society is manipulated by Google and Facebook.

Trust Me explores the importance of media literacy and examines how information and disinformation are created, shared, and spread throughout societies.

The festival also features four music documentaries: Beethoven In Bejing, directed by Jennifer Lin and Sharon Mullally, offers a striking then-and-now look at the cross-cultural power of classical music. Born Baleric: Jon Sa Trinxa & The Spirit of Ibiza, directed by Lily Rinae, portrays Ibiza’s music scene and “the legendary DJ who devoted his life to music”. Strange Tenants: Ska’d For Life, directed by Fiona Cochrane, tells the story of the Australian ska band that is still popular and political after 36 years. Where’s the Craic?, directed by Lauren Hakulinen, explores why a small town on Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way has many more live music pubs than anywhere else in Ireland.

The 35th Annual FLIFF presents several documentaries about artists: Marcel Duchamp: Art of the Possible, directed by Matthew Taylor, explores the life, philosophy and impact of one of the most influential early 20th century modernists. Finster, directed by Ava Leigh Stewart, is about art, religion, redemption, and rock and roll… all because of a man named Howard Finster. Can Art Stop A Bullet, directed by Mark Street, documents artist and activist William Kelly’s monumental artwork “Peace or War/The Big Picture” and explores the power of art to influence the violence in our world.

Escape from Extinction, narrated by Helen Mirren and directed by Matthew R. Brady, and Last Call for Tomorrow, directed by Gary Null, are two cautionary documentaries about what scientists are calling the 6th Mass Extinction. It can still be stopped, and the films show us how. For the Love of Conch reveals the underwater world of the Queen Conch and the international effort to preserve the Queen Conch for the future.

Not to be forgotten are two documentaries inspired by the students and families of Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School. Raise Your Voice, directed by Maribeth Romslo, is about young voices and their power in social movements . Stop The Bleed, directed by Emily Evan Rae, is a personal look at the emotional damage from the shooting and the healing process after.

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