Dinner and a movie is the quintessential "night out."
For college kids, it's the big summer blockbuster and a sports bar, but for the more discerning film buffs and foodies among us, we need something more.
Cinema Paradiso in Fort Lauderdale has been home to the Broward County Film Society and its world-renowned Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival (FLIFF) for almost 30 years. Although the theater offers an impressive array of arthouse, indie, and foreign films, it's a bit of a drive to the nearest restaurant and certainly too far to walk.
Earlier this year, Cinema Paradiso began work on its second location, in the heart of downtown Hollywood, surrounded by some of the area's best bars and restaurants.
Food and film have always been close partners, and as construction has moved steadily along, Cinema Paradiso has hosted a number of fundraisers at surrounding eateries. CP-H Fundraiser: Take 4 will be from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Thursday at Lola's on Harrison, one of Cinema Paradiso Hollywood's future neighbors.
"We are doing the Lola fundraise,r and there will also be a silent auction there, and among the items we have is a blimp ride for two on the Goodyear Blimp, which is kinda cool," says Greg von Hausch, executive director of FLIFF. "And we're also talking about this summer doing an ice cream festival at Cinema Paradiso, so food is on the horizon for us."
Proximity to restaurants is one of the main reasons Cinema Paradiso chose Hollywood in the first place, but make no mistake: Cinema Paradiso has no intention of stepping on the existing food scene's toes.
"The concession will be a real bar with mixed drinks, beer, and wine in addition to regular movie food. We're going to try to stay out of the food business to let the restaurants in the vicinity benefit from us being there."
That concession stand will be known as the New You Bar after a generous $10,000 donation from the health and fitness publication New You Magazine.
"And we won a nice big grant from the Community Foundation of Broward. They have the Mary Porter Legacy Fund, and we were one of three applicants out of a field of 26 to be funded, and they are granting us, over a four-year period, $150,000 for renovations," says von Hausch. "We got another $10,000 from BBX Capital for the renovation. And we're still nickel-and-diming it from private citizens, so that's all coming along."
Cinema Paradiso Hollywood should bring a real taste of the other Hollywood to the area. Every year, celebrities make special appearances during FLIFF. Sally Kellerman, who played "Hot Lips" Houlihan in the original 1970 film version of M.A.S.H., will be at tomorrow's fundraiser autographing copies of her new book, Read My Lips.
As for the theater itself, while a midsummer opening was the original goal, the FLIFF team is now more realistically aiming for September, but it certainly isn't due to a lack of progress.
"The summer keeps plugging along. I'm ordering the seats; it takes about six weeks for them to come in, and I'm trying to have them come in just as soon as we finish the platforms, not before, because I won't have anywhere to put them, but right when they're done, because I also don't want the platforms just sitting around waiting for them either. I think the backstage space should all be done by the end of next week," von Hausch says. "It's been kind of overwhelming between doing the fundraising campaign, programming Cinema Paradiso [Fort Lauderdale], getting the films ready for our big festival in the fall, and negotiating the celebrities that were planning to attend."
CP-H Fundraiser: Take 4 will be from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Thursday. Admission is $20 per person. To RSVP, call 954-985-4169.