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Best Of 2000

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Best Of :: Arts & Entertainment

Best Festival

What festival would be complete without plenty of head-sucking? We're talking about crawfish, of course, and the annual Cajun/ Zydeco Crawfish Festival comes with 35,000 pounds of the gnarly little crustaceans alive and kicking. Then throw in red beans and rice, crawfish bisque, étouffée, alligator, and muffulettas, all of it spicy. And there's enough gumbo at the festival to fill an Olympic-size swimming pool, too. When you're not busy spiking your tongue with the hot eats, you can get up and dance to the accordion-squeezing, foot-stomping zydeco music playing on stages complete with wooden dance floors. Bands like BeauSoleil, the Savoy Cajun Band, the VooDudes, the Déjà Vu Cajun Dance Band, and the Gumbo Junkyard kept the stadium rockin' in 1999, and if that wasn't enough to loosen you up, the fest offers red hurricanes and other assorted spirits being poured at a harrowing clip. For all you family stiffs, the place is tailor-made for kids, too, with children's activities, storytelling, and Cajun history lessons. Of course, it doesn't come cheap: Tickets cost $12 (will be $14 this year) at the gate (children age 12 and under free), and you have to pay for the food and beverages. Then again, the good things in life are rarely free.

Best Film Festival

After 14 years this sprawling event is still pretty much the only game in town. Its days as a scrappy little upstart are long gone, replaced by an ambitious schedule that screens more than a hundred flicks from all over the world over the course of three and a half weeks. Sometimes it seems as if executive director Gregory von Hausch wants the festival to be all things to all people, but he also continues to have shrewd instincts. Year before last he gave Affliction and Little Voice exposure long before they snagged their Oscar nominations, and for the most recent festival he did the same with Pedro Almodóvar's now-acclaimed All About My Mother, which went on to win an Oscar, and Tumbleweeds, which didn't. He also unearthed such still-overlooked gems as Joe the King and The War Zone and brought gay icon Bruce Vilanch to the masses with the riotous documentary Get Bruce!

Best Film Festival

After 14 years this sprawling event is still pretty much the only game in town. Its days as a scrappy little upstart are long gone, replaced by an ambitious schedule that screens more than a hundred flicks from all over the world over the course of three and a half weeks. Sometimes it seems as if executive director Gregory von Hausch wants the festival to be all things to all people, but he also continues to have shrewd instincts. Year before last he gave Affliction and Little Voice exposure long before they snagged their Oscar nominations, and for the most recent festival he did the same with Pedro Almodóvar's now-acclaimed All About My Mother, which went on to win an Oscar, and Tumbleweeds, which didn't. He also unearthed such still-overlooked gems as Joe the King and The War Zone and brought gay icon Bruce Vilanch to the masses with the riotous documentary Get Bruce!

Best Art Gallery

Long before Haitian art became fashionable -- a dozen years ago, to be exact -- gallery owner Katie Barr was struggling to make her mark in the competitive South Florida art market. She started out with a tiny space in a nondescript little shopping plaza in Boca Raton, where she attracted potential customers with cheese-and-wine receptions and began building up a selection of world-class art from the tiny island nation's disproportionate population of artists. Three years ago she moved her shop to a slightly larger space a few feet away from bustling Atlantic Avenue in downtown Delray Beach. Her business boomed, but her mission remains the same: sharing her knowledge and enthusiasm for some of the most exuberant art in the world, which she stocks in all its amazing variety, from paintings on canvas and board to metal sculptures to beaded vodou flags to decorative furniture and more.

Best Art Gallery

Long before Haitian art became fashionable -- a dozen years ago, to be exact -- gallery owner Katie Barr was struggling to make her mark in the competitive South Florida art market. She started out with a tiny space in a nondescript little shopping plaza in Boca Raton, where she attracted potential customers with cheese-and-wine receptions and began building up a selection of world-class art from the tiny island nation's disproportionate population of artists. Three years ago she moved her shop to a slightly larger space a few feet away from bustling Atlantic Avenue in downtown Delray Beach. Her business boomed, but her mission remains the same: sharing her knowledge and enthusiasm for some of the most exuberant art in the world, which she stocks in all its amazing variety, from paintings on canvas and board to metal sculptures to beaded vodou flags to decorative furniture and more.

Best New Play

Nilo Cruz's haunting A Bicycle Country, a play about three Cuban balseros, arrived at the Florida Stage just a few weeks after rafter Elián Gonzalez was rescued off nearby Palm Beach. Here's betting it will be remembered long after young Elián grows up. Set in Cuba and in the waters between Havana and Miami, the play stakes a claim in the dramatic territory of Samuel Beckett, with its evocative language, startling visual imagery, and existential concerns. Cruz's portrayal of the trio who escape from Cuba is both literal and metaphorical. Indeed, less a political play than a statement about yearning, A Bicycle Country is capable of transcending the narrow politics of 1999 and 2000 and becoming a work that can shed light on any group of desperate people. Which is exactly what great art is supposed to do.

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Best Festival: Fort Lauderdale Cajun/Zydeco Crawfish Festival

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