It is perhaps fitting that one of the opening films at the 2021 Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival is “American-ish,” a New York-set indie comedy about a trio of young Muslim women and their attempts to satisfy cultural traditions amid the realities of day-to-day life.
Now in its 36th year, FLIFF also is caught in a state of neither here nor there. It is clearly distanced from the pandemic darkness that chilled last year’s events, but planning for the 2021 festival coincided with the unsettling Delta phase of COVID, limiting celebrity travel and the parties that provide FLIFF with its customary buzz.
For fans of such glamorous goings-on, this year’s festival may feel a little FLIFF-ish. But for admirers of creative storytelling, international filmmaking, poignant documentaries and laughing out loud with others, the festival still has a lot recommend.
Taking place Nov. 4-21, FLIFF 2021 includes more than 150 films from more than 40 countries, the traditional Filmed in Broward series, and a sprinkling of special guests and parties, culminating in the always inventive closing-night fete hosted by new FLIFF board chair Steven Savor at his Villa DePalma manse.
This year’s festival will include the debut of FLIFF’s actively renovating Gateway Cinema as a neon-lit, red-carpet venue, a super-hero alliance with Marvel Studios’ “Eternals” on the IMAX screen at the Museum of Discovery & Science and an appearance by actor-director Daniel Baldwin with a well-reviewed documentary about drug addiction, “My Promise to P.J.”
Here is a look at FLIFF 2021 highlights, information on tickets, free movies, venues and other events.
Admission to most screenings will cost $12 in advance, $15 at the door; $10 for seniors, military and students (members $8). Films with parties and receptions are priced individually. For more information, visit FLIFF.com.
FLIFF Fast Pass: With this photo ID around your neck, you’ll have entry to all films with no line. Cost: $350 (members $300).
FLIFF All Access Pass: You’re with the band, with access to all films, all parties, plus the official T-shirt and tote bag. Cost: $450 (members $400)
FLIFF screenings will happen in five locations:
Gateway Cinema: 1820 E. Sunrise Blvd., Fort Lauderdale; 954-278-8966
Savor Cinema: 503 SE Sixth St., Fort Lauderdale; 954-525-3456
Cinema Paradiso: 2008 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood; 954-342-9137
Museum of Discovery & Science (AutoNation IMAX 3D theater): 401 SW Second St., Fort Lauderdale
Pompano Beach Cultural Center: 50 W. Atlantic Blvd., Pompano Beach; 954-545-7800
Virtual hub: There also will be livestreaming of FLIFF films and events at Watch.eventive.org/fliff2021. For a tutorial on how to watch this material on your screen of choice, visit FLIFF.com/blog/howtovirtualfest.
FLIFF 2021 includes outdoor events, reduced capacity for in-theater screenings, virtual screening options, more rigorous sanitation procedures, and touchless ticketing and concessions transactions. Complimentary masks will be provided to those who do not have one, and guests are asked to wear them inside the theater when not actively eating or drinking. For more information, visit FLIFF.com/covid19.
FLIFF kicks off with an opening weekend of films Nov. 4-7, featuring four special screenings accompanied by parties highlighted by Marvel’s long-awaited adventure “Eternals” on Nov. 5 at the Museum of Discovery & Science.
Directed by Chloé Zhao (“Nomadland”), with a cast including Salma Hayek, Angelina Jolie, Gemma Chan, Richard Madden and Kit Harrington, “Eternals” will be shown on the theater’s IMAX 3-D screen at 6 and 8:55 p.m., with a sushi party in between. Tickets to see “Eternals” cost $15. Tickets for the film and sushi party, courtesy Sky Sushi, including an open bar, cost $75 (Members $50).
The first features to screen at FLIFF this year will be “American-ish” at 6 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 4, at Cinema Paradiso in Hollywood, followed by the bittersweet coming-of-age tale “Soundtrack to Sixteen” at 7:45 p.m. in the same theater.
The rare American-Muslim romantic comedy, “American-ish” is the first feature-length film by director Iman Zawahry, a lecturer in the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications. The film also will be shown at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 6, at Gateway Cinema; 1 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 7, at Savor Cinema; and 5 p.m. Monday, Nov. 15, at Cinema Paradiso.
Zawahry will attend the Saturday screening and take part in a 6:30 p.m., pre-film reception with two stars of the film, Aizzah Fatima (also a co-writer) and Salena Qureshi, along with producers Paul Seetachitt and Roy Wol. Tickets for the reception and screening cost $25 (members $20); tickets for the film alone are $13.
“American-ish” also is scheduled to screen for free at noon Saturday, Nov. 6, as part of a program of free movies at the Pompano Beach Cultural Center. Zawahry, Fatima and Wol are expected to attend. For more information on this screening, visit PompanoBeachArts.org and click on Special Events.
“Soundtrack to Sixteen” is by young British sisters Hilary Shakespeare, making her directorial debut, and co-writer Anna-Elizabeth Shakespeare. The film, which tip-toes through the budding romance of anxious teens growing up in London in the 2000s, has other screenings at 5 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 6, at Gateway Cinema; and 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 7, at Savor Cinema. The Shakespeare sisters will travel from London to attend the Saturday and Sunday screenings and take part in post-film receptions with lead actors Scarlett Marshall and Gino Wilson. Tickets for the film and reception cost $25 on Saturday, $20 on Sunday.
FLIFF’s other official opening-weekend film is “Vasy’s Odyssey,” a road movie that follows two strangers, Vasi and Alexandra, from the coast of Spain to Greece on a journey through self-discovery, gastronomy, folklore and old traditions. FLIFF president and CEO Gregory Von Hausch calls it “one of my favorite films of the festival for its natural comedy, beautifully drawn characters and intriguing story of ordinary lives intersecting with unordinary situations.”
“Vasy’s Odyssey” screens 1:30 and 5:15 p.m. Sunday Nov. 7, and 7:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 8. Actor Mery Gregorio (Alexandra) will attend a post-film reception after Sunday’s 1:30 p.m. screening. Tickets for the film and the reception cost $25 (members $20).
“France”: Provocative French director Bruno Dumont’s (”Joan of Arc,” “Li’l Quinquin”) has confounded critics again with this Cannes-blessed satire of media and the loneliness of fame, starring reigning Bond girl Léa Seydoux. “France” screens at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 6, at Gateway Cinema and Cinema Paradiso; and at 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 13, at the Gateway.
“The Stray Story: A Dogumentary”: The premise of this film by director and animal advocate Christina Georgiou, from Cyprus, is simple: Follow the lives of everyday people who help stray dogs. But, of course, there is more to be discovered in their successes and dilemmas. The documentary exposes both possible solutions and uncomfortable questions about the relationship between man and his best friend. Screenings are at 1 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 6, at Cinema Paradiso; and 2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 20, at Savor Cinema. Christina Georgiou will attend a post-film courtyard reception with local rescue organizations on Nov. 20, with tickets for the reception $20 (including film).
“Love is Love is Love”: A mosaic of three stories that reflect on love, commitment and loyalty between couples and friends, “Love is Love is Love” was directed by Eleanor Coppola (wife of Francis Ford Coppola) with a strong cast of leading women: Kathy Baker, Joanna Whalley, Rosanna Arquette and Rita Wilson. Screenings are 7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 15, at Gateway Cinema; 1 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 16, at Cinema Paradiso; and 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 18, at Savor Cinema.
“The Sound of Us”: A cri de coeur from Emmy-winning and Grammy-nominated director and music producer Chris Gero, who returned from a journey into the gloom of the pandemic with this uplifting ode to the healing, unifying power of music and what it means to be human. The documentary is enriched by interviews and performances by Patti Smith, Ben Folds, Avery*Sunshine, Sarah McLachlan, slam poet Sekou Andrews and members of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band. “The Sound of Us” screens at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 16, at Gateway Cinema; and at 12:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 20, at Cinema Paradiso. Chris Gero is scheduled to attend both screenings.
“My Promise to P.J.”: Filmmaker and actor Daniel Baldwin’s first documentary tells of a promise he made to a young friend, P.J. Raynor. Discovering that he and Raynor shared a single item on their bucket lists, Baldwin promised to take Raynor to run with the bulls in Pamplona, Spain, if he remained clean from heroin for two years. Raynor completed the goal but then relapsed and died. Baldwin, who has been open about his own struggles with addiction, dedicated himself to fulfilling his commitment by running in Pamplona with his friend’s ashes. The film marks the first time Baldwin and his acting brothers, Alec, Steven and Billy, have appeared on screen together. “My Promise to P.J.,” which won the best documentary feature award at the Seattle Film Festival, will screen at 5:15 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 20, at Savor Cinema. Baldwin will attend, with a portion of the proceeds going to the Jupiter-based Forever Frosty Foundation’s efforts on behalf of teen mental health.
The slate of free FLIFF movies at the Pompano Beach Cultural Center begins Nov. 6 with the noon showing of “American-ish,” followed at 2 p.m. by “Walk a Mile in My Shoes,” a collection of seven shorts themed on people of color. They range from “The Conversation Remix: For Our Girls, A Conversation with Black Women” to “Wade in The Water: Drowning in Racism 2021,” South Florida filmmaker Cathleen Dean’s look at the complex history of segregation and protest on Florida beaches.
Saturday, Nov. 20, brings a full afternoon of free movies to the Pompano Beach Cultural Center, beginning at noon with a series of animated French shorts, followed at 2:30 p.m. by “Dreamers,” a documentary about inspiration and innovation with interviews from Richard Branson to Iranian-American engineer and tech leader Anousheh Ansari.
A free 5 p.m. screening of the dark comedy “Twas the Night,” by Miami native Chris Rodriguez and Grant Rosado, will include a 6:15 p.m. reception with the filmmakers and cast. At 7:30 p.m. there will be a free showing of the aforementioned ”Vasy’s Odyssey.”
Guests are requested to RSVP for these free screenings at PompanoBeachArts.org.
Also free is a FLIFF celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Robin Williams-Nathan Lane romp “The Birdcage,” showing at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 18, at Las Olas Oceanside Park on Fort Lauderdale beach. Spring for a $10 VIP ticket and get popcorn and a drink. The evening benefits Pride Fort Lauderdale. Visit FLIFF.com.
Staff writer Ben Crandell can be reached at email@example.com.Internet Explorer Channel Network