What began as a local fundraiser, the now global Palm Beach International Film Festival (PBIFF), kicks off Thursday, April 4. The weeklong fest stretches from Palm Beach Gardens to Delray Beach and includes more than 20 different film and music inspired events.
The PBIFF was founded by County Commissioner Burt Aaronson in 1996 after he was driving around town and witnessed kids partaking in the age old art of graffiti on a public wall. He saw this sort of vandalism as an opportunity for students to channel their artistic energy into something creative, and legal. Aaronson, along with local philanthropist George Elmore, developed the PBIFF as a way to raise funds for film programs in local schools as well as scholarships for the arts. In the years since, the festival has raised an impressive $1.2 million in support of students.
New Times spoke with executive director Randi Emerman, who has been working with the PBIFF since their inaugural festival 19 years ago. She explained, "It's not just about the students, it's about the passion in the messages of the films and the cultural opportunities it brings to the community and people you meet from around the world."
And that's no exaggeration. Since its inception, this local platform has gone mega-global with films from Russia, Spain, Argentina, Israel, Thailand, Singapore, and that's just this year alone. And the bonus? Most of these filmmakers are delivering their work personally; meaning there will be plenty of international producers and actors intermingling all weekend and taking part in the festivities.
Besides the proverbial feature and short films, this year's fest is also putting an emphasis on music videos. This idea was inspired by Emerman's 25-year-old son who asked, "How come film festivals don't do anything with music videos?" No longer an issue.
An entire event at the DeBilzan Gallery in Delray on Sunday night will feature music videos front and center. On screen and behind the scenes, artists range from locals to forgotten favorites like Arrested Development. Music documentaries are on the menu as well, including a flashback to a local music fest called 1969 Palm Beach Pop Festival Documentary and The Beast and the Angel, which takes a deep look into the life of MC5's Wayne Kramer.
Other highlights include one of the original Sudanese "Lost Boys" present at the screening of the new documentary he stars in and the world premiere of Comedy Warriors - Healing Through Humor. Comedy Warriors tells the tale of five Iraq and Afghanistan veterans (who will attend the screening) exploring the world of comedy with Zach Galifiankis and Bob Saget stepping in to teach them what it takes to amuse.&
All the film geek mayhem kicks off with Decoding Annie Parker, starring Aaron Paul and Helen Hunt, on Thursday night. The movie will followed by an epic opening night rooftop party with some of the best views in the city.
Oh, you want to be one of them? Not a problem. The PBIFF is a non-profit powered by the many volunteers, and everyone is invited to join in the fun. Emerman encourages you to get a piece of the action saying, "70 percent of these films have filmmakers that are coming. The community needs to come out, meet these people, have a good time and experience different culture."
The Palm Beach International Film Festival. April 4 to 11, 2013. Tickets for individual movies start at only $10, $8 for students. Events will take place at the following: Muvico Parisian 20 and IMAX at CityPlace, 545 Hibiscus St., West Palm Beach; Cobb Downtown at the Gardens, 11701 Lake Victoria Gardens Ave., Palm Beach Gardens; Stonzek Theatre, 709 Lake Ave., Lake Worth; Frank Theatres CineBowl and Grille, 9025 W. Atlantic Ave., Delray Beach.
For more information on films and screen times, visit pbifilmfest.org.