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Film Reviews
FLIFF35 - Boat-In, Drive-In, Dine-In - It's A Must Be-In!
| Monday, 11.16.2020, 12:13 AM |   (1855 views)

In this time of gingerliness regarding survival of movie theater chains and much of the film industry in general, film festivals have found ingenious ways to bring new and emerging films to theatergoers hungry for something to do.  And, in its 35th year, the Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival is one of those beacons of light.  Partnering with many Broward County agencies and businesses, FLIFF35’s President and CEO, Gregory von Hausch, and his team, also reached out to local restaurants and facilities, looking to expand the venues at which they could safely, and artistically, screen festival selections. 

And the response has been overwhelming.  Greg told In Focus Magazine that ‘attendees told him that they were just happy to get out of the house to do something’.  Almost all of the 186 features and docs had one live screening in a theater.  In addition, through the Eventive virtual hub, FLIFF35 was able to schedule 150 fest films.  Greg also wanted to expand the reach of the virtual fest, so he negotiated with each film individually.  As a result, many of the docs/shorts/selected features were screened in 27 countries including Ireland, Germany and France.

Greg’s team came up with that idea in March 2020, after participating in a Zoom meeting with staff from other festivals. FLIFF35 staffers were pleased with the result and ‘saw it as a boon for them. Virtual Cinema outgrossed live screenings by 3-fold.’  von Hausch is very happy with those numbers.  They want people to take Festivals seriously, and ‘seeing films from the comfort of home is fantastic - just like watching a Netflix thing’.  Drive-in movies, which have been very successful in the area, were also part of FLIFF35.

The FLIFF35 team went even further, partnering with local restaurants for what they called, “Dinner and a Movie”.  Tickets were sold online that included the restaurant and movie ticket charge.  Patrons could also add on additional food and beverages once they got to the venue.  And each facility got in on the fun!

You can still catch the feature film Heartbeats at Marando Farms & Ranch in Davie. The American film about a hip-hop dancer is set in India and the specially selected farm-to-table dinner menu is Indian-inspired, with Chicken Korma, Naan bread and Tikka Masala. Attending and serenading the diners will be a Sitar player.  Jimbo’s Sandbar at Tiki Tiki will feature ‘beach food’ and a screening of The Big Lebowski.  Dinner and a Movie at the Westin Resort features a sumptuous 5-course meal.  The Tipsy Boar and GG’s Waterfront have also signed on for an event.

In the time of covid, every event is held outdoors, with people socially distant. Some have circles spaced out on astroturf. FLIFF35 and their partners are taking every precaution to keep you as safe as possible, and still give you a wonderful experience.

And if those choices aren’t enough for you, FLIFF35 went a few steps further – with a “Boat-In” at the Coral Ridge Yacht Club!  Seated on their own boats on Sunrise Bay, cinemaniacs were treated to a showing of Goldfinger.  And if you weren’t Bond-enough to sail your own vessel, floating devices – yes, floating lounges with tables, were made available to patrons, giving them front-row seats to enjoy the film.  The sound was tuned in on 91.5, just as if you were attending a drive-in movie.  And Coral Ridge provided boat-side meal delivery… by dinghy!

Getting the boat-in set up was one of the more difficult feats of engineering. Greg tells us that ‘first off was getting approval by the US Coast Guard’.  Then ‘getting the barge for the screen, putting up screen, setting the audio frequencies, getting the throw distance for the projector. All of this was a little different because it was on the water.’

If you’re wondering if any talent showed up to the festival, here’s a slice of who’s already been in attendance.  With the opening night film, Deniro’s The Comeback Trail, actress Kate Katzman made an appearance at the fest. Katzman has called Florida her home for much of her life, growing up in Palm City, relocating to Miami to further her career and then making a home in Palm Beach.

And Director Evgeny Afineevsky came to FLIFF35 with his film Francesco, whose cast includes His Holiness Pope Francis.  Though the fest had many premieres, this was not the World Premiere of this particular film. von Hausch tells In Focus Magazine that the film World Premiered …. at The Vatican, with the Pope.

The FLIFF35 is midway through its run.  If success can be measured by staff and patron enthusiasm, along with some measure of profitability, I’d say this Fest has hit the Florida Lottery.  Go buy a ticket.  As the saying goes, if you’re not in it, you can’t win it.

Lisa Blanck is the Associate Editor for In Focus Magazine.  She's been a News Editor at NBC affiliate WESH2 in Orlando for more than a decade. She was formerly with WKMG6 for 14 years as a News Editor. She spent nine years in advertising, marketing, promotions and live special events at Nickelodeon, Nick at Nite and MTV Networks. She also worked as an on-air host for local cable access programs. Lisa has covered the Florida Film Festival for the past 28 years as well as the World Peace Festival. She was a columnist for Lady Freethinker, a featured columnist for and for the now-defunct  She has been a columnist for the Focus In Newspaper and now for In Focus Magazine. 

Lisa Blanck can be reached at: [email protected]

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