In less than a week, the Palm Beach International Film Festival will descend upon Palm Beach County. Now in its twelfth year, the festival does more than screen movies. This non-for-profit organization supports film programs in local schools and is dedicated to helping future filmmakers fulfill their dreams of working in the professional film industry.
From April 4 through 11, however, it's all about the films. This year's festival includes 26 world premieres, eight U.S. premieres and three North American premieres, and will feature works from an array of countries including Russia, Spain, Argentina, Italy, France, Israel, Ethiopia, Australia, Canada, Singapore and, of course, the United States. Whether you're looking to catch a documentary, feature film or even a music video, the film festival has something for everyone. We've curated a schedule of what you simply can't afford to miss, including opening night festivities and celebrity sightings. For a complete schedule or to purchase tickets, visit pbifilmfest.org
- Opening night: The festival kicks off on Thursday, April 4 at 7 p.m. with Decoding Annie Parker at Muvico Parisian in CityPlace. Directed by Steven Bernstein and based on a true story, the film stars television and film actress Maggie Grace, Academy Award winner Helen Hunt, Rashida Jones (of Parks & Recreation and The Office), Aaron Paul (better known as Jesse Pinkman from Breaking Bad) and Samantha Morton in the title role. The director as well as some of the cast will be in attendance. After the film, the festivities continue with cocktails and hors d'oeuvres at the Two City Plaza rooftop.
- Weekend of April 5 through 7: The Lake Worth Playhouse Stonzek Theatre hosts the Weekend of Shorts. On Friday evening at 6 and 9 p.m., there are screenings of collections of short films, ranging in length from five to 20 minutes. Saturday and Sunday are all-day affairs, with screenings at noon, 3, 6 and 9 p.m. The Sunday noon slot includes the U.S. premiere of 1969 Palm Beach Pop Festival Documentary, which tells the story of the festival that almost never happened. Every screening at this festival within a festival features a different lineup, so come for one group or for the whole weekend.
Sunday, April 7: If you're not catching the short film festival, then head on over to the DeBilzan Gallery in Delray Beach for an evening of music videos, documentaries and a reception. This evening includes the world premieres of El Duelo, Into the Cold, Let your Light Shine, Living by Arrested Development and My Heart Belongs to You.
Martin Sheen as Hamlet in a 1967 version directed by Joe Papp. Credit: George E. Joseph.
- Wednesday, April 10: If you're a lover of the arts and interested in entertainment history, you won't want to miss the Florida premiere of Joe Papp in 5 Acts, screening at 2:30 p.m. at Cobb Downtown at the Gardens. This documentary directed by Tracie Holder recounts the story of Joe Papp, the man who championed interracial casting in America, introduced the practice of free Shakespeare in the park, produced such musicals as Hair and A Chorus Line, and nurtured a generation of playwrights, directors and actors. Well-known thespians such as Meryl Streep, Kevin Kline, Martin Sheen, James Earl Jones and Christopher Walken appear in the film.
- Closing night: On the evening of April 11, the festival will go out the same way it came in, with a film and a party. Chez Upshaw, a comedy directed by Bruce Mason, will have its U.S. premiere at 7 p.m. at the Frank Theatres CineBowl & Grille in Delray Beach. The film will be immediately followed by the "It's a Wrap" awards party.