On the surface, **The 28th Annual Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival (FLiFF28)** was a success. Honorees Lea Thompson, John Shea, Finola Hughes and Tab Hunter were class acts; they showed up on time and they were gracious with their fans. Ed Asner and Pauley Cohen revealed that their stars power has not faded. When Anna Paquin was forced to cancel, her husband (and **True Blood** costar) Stephen Moyer substituted and he was fan friendly.
With screenings of **Life is Beautiful,** **Black Swan** and **The Artist,** **FLiFF** has a history of presenting future Oscar winners. This year **FLiFF** screened inspirational biography **One Chance.** Bruce Dern's performance was honored for his work on **Nebraska,** while Meryl Streep will likely continue her Oscar streak for her performance in **August Osage County.**
The evening with Tab Hunter was particularly memorable. Brooklyn College Film Professor Foster Hirsch conducted an on stage interview with Hunter that covered wide and varied career. In the business since the age of 19, Hunter has reinvented himself for many generations. He was teen idol with a hit record that rivaled Elvis Presley, he was a costar to iconic leading men like Gary Cooper and John Wayne. Since coming out of the closet, Hunter has earned a new fan base with his autobiography, **Tab Hunter Confidential.** As he exited the Cinema Paradiso spotlight, Tab Hunter received a standing ovation from the Fort Lauderdale audience.
**FLiFF28** acknowledged South Florida history. **They Came from the Swamp** was a documentary about William Grefe movies produced from 60s to the 80s. With titles like **Death Curse of Tartu,** **Sting of Death** and **Mako Jaws of Death,** Grefe directed these independent motion pictures on a shoestring budget with a loyal crew. Grefe's knowledge of South Florida swamps lead to consultant work on 007 James Bond productions, most notably Sir Roger Moore's first outing, **Live and Let Die.**
**The Last Hit** was named Best Florida Feature. Written by Lou Pappas (who is also the leading man), **The Last Hit** is a modern gangster/noir about a hit man with a conscience. Filmed in our neighborhood, **The Last Hit** features **FLiFF** photographer Irwin Levenstein as an ornery gangster.
The final screening of **Krissy Belle** was held in the new Cinema Paradiso - Hollywood. This Art House Theater is so new - the paint is still drying on the wall. Located on Hollywood Boulevard, Cinema Paradiso - Hollywood is a great cultural addition to South Florida and is worth an excursion to the south county.
Behind the scenes, **FLiFF 28** suffered. One week before the gala, office manager Jane Moguillansky passed away. A lovable presence at Cinema Paradiso, Jane Moguillansky had a keen eye for detail. Her loss reverberated thoughout **FLiFF28.**