With the closing night award ceremonies Sunday, the 15th Annual Fort Lauderdale Int'l Film Festival ended with an impressive slate of features, documentaries and short films.
The festival, from Oct. 16-Nov. 12, saw attendance total 54,000 during the 28-day run. The sold-out Opening Night event Nov. 3 started with a conversation with indie filmmaker John Waters, followed by the U.S. premiere of "Il Cielo Cade (The Sky Is Falling)," directed by Antonio and Andrea Frazzi and starring Isabella Rossellini.
The film is about life in a small Tuscany town during the start of the Nazi occupation and won the festival's best foreign language film award.
Two other notable international films screened during the festival were well received. "Coronation," directed by Silvio Caiozzi, was chosen to represent Chile as its Foreign Language Oscar entry and had its U.S. premiere at the festival. The story revolves around a 90-year-old grand dame of the wealthy Santiago family and how the family is deteriorating. Maria Canepa, as the matriarch, won the best supporting actress award at the festival.
The U.S. premiere of "A Time for Drunken Horses," directed by Bahman Ghobadi, was screened to a standing room only audience and was selected as the Foreign Language Oscar entry representing Iran. The film follows a young Kurdish boy and his impoverished family as they fight to survive on the Iran-Iraqi border. It won the festival's Audience Award.
Other award winners were David Mamet's "State and Main," a searing and hysterical look at the making of a big budget film in a small Maine town, which won the best film award. William H. Macy, portraying the director, won the best supporting male award. The Lifetime Achievement Award went to actor Peter Falk and the Spirit of Independent's Award went to Rob Morrow (of "Northern Exposure" fame), whose directorial debut film "Maze," screened at the festival.
The closing night film, "Shadow of the Vampire," played to mixed reactions. The film is a fictional account of the making of the German silent classic "Nosferatu" in which director F.W. Murnau (John Malkovich) casts a real-life vampire (Willem Dafoe) as his villain. Although it did not win any festival awards, Dafoe's performance will be watched come Oscar time.
The 15th Annual Fort Lauderdale Int'l Film Festival was sponsored by Broward Cultural Affairs and the Florida Arts Council, with special support provided by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.