Tuesday, March 31, 2009

ArtsBuzz: Palm Beach, Delray film fests smaller this year

Charlie Cox and Kate Mara in Stone of Destiny.

By Hap Erstein

“Downsizing” is the operative word for this year’s local film festivals, both the Palm Beach International and the Delray Beach Fest.

The countywide Palm Beach International Film Festival, now in its 14th year and in search of a new chairman to steer it, will run a mere five days -- down from its usual eight -- and screen about 110 films, a cutback from last year’s 140.

The festival will open April 23, kicking off with the comedy-adventure Stone of Destiny, with Robert Carlyle (The Full Monty), Kate Mara (Brokeback Mountain) and Charlie Cox (Stardust), in a fact-based tale of four Glaswegian students who outwitted the British government, in a plot to liberate the Coronation Stone from Westminster Abbey and take it back to Scotland, its country of origin. Writer-director Charles Martin Smith (American Graffiti) will attend the festival and introduce the film to the opening night audience.

The festival wraps Monday, April 27, with 500 Days of Summer, which stars Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Leavitt, a romantic comedy about a love affair of a year-and-a-half’s duration.

Also announced was the first wave of award recipients. At Friday, April 24’s gala at the Boca Raton Resort & Club, Oscar-nominated actor James Cromwell (Babe, The Queen, W.) will be given the Career Achievement Award and director Joel Zwick (My Big Fat Greek Wedding, a PBIFF featured film before it became the highest-grossing rom-com of all time) will receive the Visionary Award.

The festival may have tightened its belt, but it will be spread out at more venues around the county. The primary screening site will be the Sunrise Cinemas in Boca Raton’s Mizner Park, but other “special presentations” will be at the Movies of Delray, Lake Worth Playhouse, Florida Atlantic University, Cobb Theaters Jupiter and Downtown at the Gardens.

* * *

Lauren Graham and Jeff Daniels in The Answer Man.

Now in its fourth year, the Delray Beach Film Festival, created and run by former veterinarian Michael Posner, has moved to late May, 19-25, concluding on Memorial Day, to avoid conflicts with the Palm Beach event.

It too expects to have some 110 independent and below-the-radar films, plus the much-touted, direct-from-Sundance The Answer Man, about a reclusive author who becomes a pop-culture guru (Jeff Daniels) and the single mom (Lauren Graham, The Gilmore Girls) whose life collides with his.

No comments: