April 25th, 2012

Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

PBiFF 17 "Overnight"

While it starts off slow and ends a bit weak, "Overnight" is an ensemble comedy about a red eye flight from L.A. to N.Y. In between are some funny take on politically incorrect stereotypes about rappers and muslim airline passengers. The most recognizable names are Claudia Christian as a stewardess and Anthony LaPaglia as the emotionally handicapped pilot. However the little white malstese dog steals the show.

Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and


It was a true celebration of film as the Palm Beach International Film Festival celebrated its 17th installment with tremendous success. Despite being faced with serious financial adversity, PBIFF thrived in the true spirit of independent film camaraderie as filmmakers from around the world enjoyed welcoming audiences, shared their experiences and attended fabulous parties!

After a week of screenings, the votes were tallied to determine the winners for Best Feature Film, Best Documentary, Best Short Film, while audiences voted for their favorite in categories of features, documentaries and shorts. Winners were announced at the closing night screening last night.

The Award for Best Feature Film went to Tiger Eyes, directed by Lawrence Blume. The first of iconic author Judy Blume's novels to be brought to the big screen, Tiger Eyes is the story of 17-year-old Davey Wexler (portrayed by Willa Holland), coping with the sudden, violent death of her father, and the emotional collapse of her mother. Set in Los Alamos, New Mexico, where the family abruptly relocates to be with relatives -- and in the surrounding canyons and caves where Davey meets Wolf, a young Native American with his own secret, Tiger Eyes is spare yet romantic, emotional yet never sentimental. This is a universal story of love and loss, of a family torn apart, who slowly, painfully find the courage to face the future. The film also stars Elise Eberley, Amy Jo Johnson, Cynthia Stevenson, Tatanka Means and Russell Means. Lawrence Blume was on hand to accept the award.

The Award for Best Documentary Feature went to Follow Me: The Yoni Netanyahu Story, directed by Ari Pinchot and Jonathan Gruber, about an intimate journey into a young hero's mind as he struggles between his devotion to his country and the people he loves.

A Special Jury Award for Documentary Feature went to Lunch Hour, directed by James Costa. Lunch Hour explores the National School Lunch Program, childhood obesity, and our addiction to unhealthy foods. It shows what schools, parents, authors, doctors, politicians, celebrities, and chefs are doing to problem solve this issue and help save the children of America and features Rachael Ray, Robin Quivers, Marion Nestle, and Alex Jamieson. Director James Costa was on hand to accept the award.

The Award for Best Short Film went to Roundabout, directed by Rohit Bartra, about two strangers learn the communality of their existence, motivated by a random act of kindness.

The PBIFF Audience Favorite Award for Best Feature went to Best Little Whorehouse in Rochdale, directed by Ian Vernon and starring Jeni Howarth Williams, Denice Hope, Caroline Melliar Smith and Sophia Hatfield. Joan has been married for twenty five years to her first love. She's let herself go, and sex is a rare non-event. After the untimely death of her husband, Joan needs money to pay the mortgage or lose her home. She hits upon the idea of forming a co-operative brothel, aided by her two unconventional friends. A brothel with no sex! Director Ian Vernon was there to accept the award.

The Audience Favorite Award for Best Documentary went to Love Free or Die, directed by Macky Alston and featuring Bishop Gene Robinson. Love Free or Die is a about a man’s two defining passions: his love for God and for his partner Mark. Bishop Gene Robinson will not give up on either, but the world cannot reconcile. The film also won a Special Jury Prize at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. Director Macky Alston was there to accept the award.

The Audience Favorite Award for Best Short Film went to Hollywood Struggles Starring the Brentwood Girls, directed by Gloria Kisel. Marilyn, played by socialite Gloria Kisel-Hollis, and Penelope, played by Natasha Blasick, one wanting to be a director and the other an actress, both take over Hollywood in Hollywood Struggles. Their friends call them The Brentwood Girls because Marilyn's and Penelope's goal is to produce their own show or movie entitled (what else?) The Brentwood Girls. Along the way they take a serpentine journey through all things Hollywood. Director Gloria Kisel was there to accept the award.

The Palm Beach International Film Festival is a 501(c)(3) not for profit organization supporting film programs in local schools and dedicated to making a difference in the lives of future filmmakers by helping them fulfill their dreams to one-day work in the world of film. For more information, please call (561) 362-0003 or visit the festival web site at www.pbifilmfest.org.
Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

"Monsieur Lazhar" opens at the Living Room Theater this weekend

With the unseasonable chill in the air and the dawn of the summer blockbuster season, sometimes an odd film is released and the timing is perfect, such is the case for **Monsieur Lazhar.** Oscar nominated for best foreign language film, **Monsieur Lazhar** relates to Florida students and teachers in their final month of the school year.

Set in Montreal, the film opens in a snowy school yard with children in recess. As per classroom routine, a little boy brings the snack to the classroom before recess ends. When he opens the classroom door, the little boy finds his teacher hanging from the ceiling in a successful suicide.

Enter **Monsieur Lazhar** (Mohammed Fellag), an Algerian refugee who offers his services as a substitute school teacher. While the principal expresses concern over teaching credentials and the children find the Algerian's teaching methods disruptive, Lazhar instinctly begins the healing process for the community.

For classroom authenticity, **Monsieur Lazhar** is a truthful motion picture. The emotional pain is real, however youth has a way of distracting it with humor. The poker faced Lazhar accepts this childlike behavior, yet his pain in private life is just as comparable.

With **Sun Fest** to the north of us and the welcome return of the **Lauderdale Air Show,** a quiet film like **Monsieur Lazhar** should not be lost in roar of engines and the high decibels of a Fender Amplifier. **Monsieur Lazhar** opens tomorrow at the **Living Room Theater** on the Florida Atlantic University campus.