Opening night of the 2019 Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival at the Museum of Discovery and Science (MODS), found a star-studded red carpet with guests including Karen Allen (Indiana Jones) and Peter Riegert (The Mask) eager to see the South Florida Premiere of Cuba on the giant IMAX® Theater screen.
At the after-party, Tito Puente Jr. and his Latin Jazz Ensemble performed a lively set live while guests sipped on rum cocktails, beer, and puffed Don Delgado Cigars. Food was strictly Cuban with roasted pork, black beans, and rice and fried yucca.
During the festival, films are shown at the IMAX screens at the Science Museum, on a sea cruise, a rooftop resort hotel pool, and the NSU Art Museum along with the Savor Cinema, Cinema Paradiso, Sunrise Civic Center, and at the Nova Lifelong Learning Institute. MODS will continue screening Cuba and 12 more giant screen documentaries at the IMAX Theater during the first week of FLIFF, through November 7th.
Director Peter Chang was there, saying he “was glad that the film is being seen the way it is intended – on the big IMAX screen. I made this film on Cuba to transcend economics and politics. We used a drone to get views that have never been seen this way, and followed people and their stories.”
The ambitious scenic film focuses on ballerina hopeful Patricia Torres, a beautiful young girl whose graceful dancing has earned her a shot at auditioning for the Ballet Nacional de Cuba, a company that performs around the world. The years of lessons and sacrifice are at stake as her supportive parents have had to take second jobs just to pay for the expensive ballet shoes. The camera follows her through rehearsals and at home with her family, practicing her steps on the beach and preparing for the audition in front of a full audience in Havana. She aces the audition and at an emotional ceremony is gained admittance into the company. When asked how he knew she would get in, director Chang says “I actually followed four different dancers in the hopes that one of them would make the cut. She’s the only one that did.”
In another surreally beautiful segment, marine biologist Fernando Bretos examines the stunningly beautiful coral reefs around the island, and question why they are so healthy and rebounding since 1992 when other island reefs in the nearby Caribbean and Florida are dying. The answer is not surprising – 1992 was the year the island stopped using Soviet-supplied pesticides and fertilizer which ran off the fields into the sea. Since then, they have been strictly organic, leading to the resurgence of healthy coral reefs and marine life. A segment of neon-colored coral growing and flowering is set to a frenetic salsa music soundtrack.
Another Cuba focused film, Operation Peter Pan, tells the story of how between 1960 and 1962, 14,000 children were exfiltrated from Cuba. A movement of panic seized middle-class Cuban parents, who were riled at the political unrest so sent their children en masse to the United States, hoping to join them there soon. The panic was caused by a rumor, claiming that Fidel Castro intended to “Nationalise“ Cuban children. Unfortunately, the Cuban Missile Crisis of December 1962 got in the way, and the borders closed like a trap on the families and the kids, preventing them from being reunited. Spread out all over the U.S., tragically very few children ever saw their parents again. This film tells the story of a spectacular operation of manipulation led by the CIA in an attempt to overthrow the Castro government using the children: Operation Peter Pan.
Chasing The Jet Stream follows the pioneering adventure of Marc Hauser, a Swiss entrepreneur and motivational speaker who aims to become the first skydiver to jump into a hurricane-force jet stream winds at 8,000 to 10,000 meters altitude. With this record, Marc wants to bring attention to the new technology of airborne wind energy systems, which can harness high-altitude wind power and alleviate the global energy crisis.
A few cruises are lined up with various film directors including one on Monday, Nov. 11th aboard The Musette. The boat is docked on the New River directly behind Savor Cinema. There is a brunch cruise on Sunday, Nov. 17th on the luxury yacht, CAPRICE.
Local filmmaker Robert Adanto screens The Wise Lesson of Mad Cows, a new short film documenting the public actions which took place following the Missouri grand jury decision not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown, and New York grand jury decision not to indict police officer David Pantaleo in the death of Eric Garner.
Sunday, Nov 17, is the closing day with a night party following the 4 pm screening of From The Vine at the Atlantic Hotel & Spa. Lifetime Achievement honoree, Joe Pantoliano, and Career Achievement honoree, Marco Leonardi, both stars of From The Vine will be on the Pool Deck with Hors d’oeuvres, signature cocktails, and live music.
If you visit: fliff.com or call 954-525-FILM (3456)
This story was updated on Wednesday, November 6, 2019, to correct Cuba director Peter Chang instead of David Chang as it was previously reported.
Highlights of the 2019 Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival