Top Six Films to See at 2014's Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival

Just one year shy of turning the dirty 30, South Florida's long-running Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival returns this Friday.

Cinephiles can catch -- from November 7 to 23 -- screenings of anything from groundbreaking international documentaries to romantic indie films that question life's existence and even shorts hailing from faraway lands.

Aww, the beauty and magic of the silver screen. Along with a diverse lineup, a few stars will also be in attendance, like Daniel Baldwin in support of his suspense thriller The Wisdom to Know the Difference. Also on tap: George Hamilton, Clara Mamet, and producer Mike Downey.

New Times asked Gregory von Hausch, president and CEO of FLIFF, to provide his top, not-to-be-missed picks. Hausch delved deep and came back with these six, along with filling us in on what's new for the 29th-annual rendition.

New Times: What's new at the festival this year?

Lots! Opening night, November 7, is at Amaturo Theater at Broward Center for the Performing Arts, followed by a party at Cyn Nightclub (formerly Off the Hookah).

Centerpiece Film & Party takes place for the first time at Sunrise Civic Center Theater on November 14. The theater will continue showing films through November 16. George Hamilton: At Home on Stage is screening for the first time ever. Hamilton takes the stage to relive some of his memories, loves, and favorite roles. The event takes place November 22 at Cinema Paradiso-Fort Lauderdale.

Movies Martinis & Popcorn at Miramar Cultural Center on November 22 marks our first time we've featured films in this arena. The wrap party this year will be held November 23 at the Atlantic Hotel overlooking Fort Lauderdale Beach.

Most of the film screenings this year will take place at Cinema Paradiso-Fort Lauderdale and Cinema Paradiso-Hollywood from November 8 to 23.

What are your five or six film and event highlights that festivalgoers must see?

Lucky Stiff -- From the off-Broadway musical comedy hit, it's a riot with a feel similar to Little Shop of Horrors, and our special guests Jason Alexander and Pamela Shaw are hysterical.

Traitors -- Thrilling, exciting... edge-of-your-seat suspense. The film is written and directed by Sean Gullette, who made his debut at Sundance as the lead actor in Darren Aronofsky's Pi.

Manos Sucias -- Well really, I could use the same lead as above to describe this film. Exec-produced by Spike Lee in the sea and jungles surrounding Colombia.

The Salvation -- Stars Danish phenom Mads Mikelsen, who is outstanding in this Old West story of revenge and retribution.

LOST IN KARASTAN from Trailers on Vimeo.

Lost in Karastan -- This is a dark geopolitical comedy about a washed-up indie film director who gets invited to Karastan in Eastern Eurasia to be honored at a film festival. It's very funny, at times disturbingly so.

Loitering With Intent ­­-- It's a New York indie comedy. The two leads also wrote it and costar with Marisa Tomei and Sam Rockwell. The director, Adam Rapp, and two leads ­-- Michael Gondere and Ivan Martin, with costar Brian Geraghty -- will be here.

In addition, local filmmaker and head of the film and television program at the University School of Nova Southeastern, Robert Adanto, is to show his City of Memory, a film that concerns the contemporary visual arts scene in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. Adanto interviewed the featured New Orleans artists five years after Katrina destroyed the city and elegantly captured their stories on the power of creativity cutting through a major struggle. Material from the film aptly describes the story: "From what looked like the death of a great American city emerged a generation of artists whose energy might prove a source of renewal for the rest of the world."

Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival. The 29th Annual International Film Festival runs from Friday, November 7, through Sunday, November 23, at various cinemas. View the full event schedule by visiting fliff.com. Tickets cost $10, $8 for seniors and students, and $6 for FLIFF members.

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