Tired of seeing the glitzy Hollywood movies that are big on star power and action sequences but short on plot? The Palm Beach International Film Festival is the cure for all your celluloid ills. Running April 19 to 26, the fest boasts 55 feature and short films as well as documentaries from 17 countries, including a special showcase of more than 20 films in a salute to French cinema. All the movies screen at either Muvico Parisian 20 at CityPlace in West Palm Beach or Muvico Palace 20 in Boca Raton.
The highlight of the festival will be the presentations of the Film Excellence-Director Award to Jean Becker for his 500 films, including Les Enfants du Marais(The Children of the Marshland), and the PBIFF Lifetime Achievement Award to French actress Leslie Caron of Gigi fame (who unfortunately will be unable to attend). Palm Beach County Commissioner Burt Aaronson will also be recognized as founder of the PBIFF at the awards gala Saturday at 8 p.m. at the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts.
Two films stand out as must-see works at the festival. A Shot at Glory opens the festival tonight, followed by a question-and-answer session with director Michael Corrente. Set in Kilnoechie, Scotland, the film follows Coach McLeod, played by Robert Duvall with a thick Scottish brogue, whose second-division soccer team faces an uphill battle to win the Scottish Cup. The new American owner of the team (whom Michael Keaton plays as a sort of Wayne Huizenga with hair) threatens to move the team to a bigger stadium in Ireland unless the team wins the cup. McLeod is heartbroken because he was raised in Kilnoechie and knows that the city, like him, lives and breathes soccer.
To add spice to the story, the star of McLeod's team, who is married to the coach's daughter, is often seen drinking, cheating on his wife, or fighting with fans. The part is played by actor Brian Cox (not to be confused with former Miami Dolphin Bryan Cox, who could have played the role without acting).
The other standout work, I Remember Me, is a documentary about victims of chronic fatigue syndrome. Filmmaker Kim Snyder tells the story, weaving together her personal tale of a five-year struggle with the disease and interviews of people who have suffered from CFS for as long as 40 years. Her work also reveals the government agencies' attempts to conceal the disease. The film opens Wednesday, April 25; Snyder will be on hand for a discussion following the screening.
The rest of the films in the PBIFF cover a wide variety of subjects, from the hit man humor of Middlemen to the inspiring tales of 90-year-old surfers in Surfing for Life. With so many choices, there really is something for everyone.