FLIFF Hosts Lavish Gatsby Affair but Maintains Indie Integrity

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Michael Toledo

The first film at the 2013 Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival (FLIFF), Free Ride, debuted to a packed audience. The crowd included the likes of producer Stephen Moyer (AKA Bill Compton of True Blood -- yes, the Vampire Bill), director Shana Betz -- who wrote and directed the film based on her mother -- and many sponsors and other participating directors.

After the film premiered, guests headed to a Great Gatsby-themed soiree that looked straight out of Baz Luhrmann's adaptation of the classic novel. It was the cat's pajamas, if you will. The house itself was a work of art. Located on the Intracoastal Waterway, it held three bars, eight bedrooms, two pools, a man-made beach, and a 100-foot VIP yacht. Balloons clouded the pool while professional dancers decorated in flapper attire fox-trotted under a clear night sky. The courtyard was sprinkled in twinkle lights, and the guests were bedazzled in beaded dresses and gowns, zoot suits, and fedoras.

One of the sponsors, Cyndi Boyar, was dressed to the nines with her equally gorgeous friend, Hunter Powell, who flew down from New Jersey for the festival. "I'm a celebrity makeup artist, and I decided I wanted to be a part of FLIFF," says Boyar.


She's sponsoring two films, both of which she can proudly name the exact page they're found on in the official FLIFF magazine. Taking Charge: The Pauly Cohen Story and The Trouble With the Truth, starring Lea Thompson. Thompson was also wandering the party in a tight green dress looking so young that it made us wonder if she has actually traveled Back to the Future.

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Michael Toledo

Though the party was filled with people in the arts, two directors stood out in the crowd, each for different reasons. Paul Osborne, director of Favor, could have been the only entertainment at the party and it still would have been a great night. He was charismatic and charming and made the idea of seeing his film seem downright delightful.

Isaak James, looking himself like Gatsby in a tight black suit and an almost shy smile, directed the drama By Way of Home, which features his father, Alain Hasson. He's made a habit of directing a film and bringing it to FLIFF every two years. "Although this festival is growing, it's still smaller than some of the others, a fact I really appreciate. The larger festivals have gotten too big, to the point where they are inaccessible to truly independent movies. FLIFF isn't like that."

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Michael Toledo

Marlyn Hodgens, a manager at Muvico Pompano, was among the guests. "Muvico is one of the sponsors and shows four movies a day from FLIFF," she said, remarking how the festival has grown. FLIFF has has been ongoing for 28 years, and the festival's year-round arthouse, Cinema Paraidiso-Lauderdale, has become a South Florida staple for cinephiles. It's so popular, they even opened a second one in Hollywood.


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