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That's A Wrap!

Fest Closes with Awards and One Last Film

A South Florida style soiree saw the 9th Annual Palm Beach International Film Festival draw to a close last night. John C. McGinley, most recently recognized as Dr. Perry Cox on the hit NBC comedy "Scrubs," hosted the Closing Night Awards Ceremony. After a week of film screenings, the jury votes were tallied to determine the winners for Best Film, Best Documentary, Best Director, Best Performance by an Actor/Actress, Best Screenplay, while audiences voted for their favorite in categories of features (including a separate Favorite Palm Beach Feature), documentaries and shorts.

Immediately following the awards ceremony, the audience was treated to introductory words from John Hawkes, one of the key players in the closing night film, "A Slipping Down Life." Starring Guy Pearce, Lili Taylor, Sara Rue and John Hawkes. Following the film, McGinley and Hawkes joined many of the fest's indie filmmakers for a private closing night celebration at The Improv, hosted by Treasure Coast Studios.

Filmmakers toasted a successful fest that brought more than 130 films as well as a number of special events to Palm Beach County. Nearly 14,000 enthusiastic filmgoers enjoyed a week of films from all genres. Attendance increased by 20% since last year's fest and boasted a number of big names. It all began last week when Nia Vardalos and director Michael Lembeck walked the red carpet at the Muvico Parisian theatre at CityPlace for their new film "Connie and Carla."

The star power continued with the Grand Awards Gala held at the Boca Raton Resort & Club on Saturday night. The evening paid tribute to the late Rod Steiger and presented awards to three of today's talents. Ben Gazzara received the Legend Award for more than five decades of work in film; Shohreh Aghdashloo received the Horizon Award, which recognizes an emerging talent, for her role in "House of Sand and Fog;" and Michael Clarke Duncan was presented with the Career Achievement Award for his many powerful roles in film.

At the core of the fest were the filmmakers themselves. Palm Beach County residents as well as film fans who traveled from far and wide for the week-long celebration of film were offered an unparalled opportunity to view independent films and meet the creative minds behind them.

Cindy Baer, director of "Purgatory House," was thrilled with the creative camaraderie she found among other filmmakers at the festival. "It really felt like there was a bond between filmmakers here. We shared ideas, went out to see each others films, it was a very gratifying experience."

Gratification also came for festival director Randi Emerman. "The goal of the festival is to bring out quality films in the form of shorts, documentaries and features. We are also here to give back to the community. This year we succeeded in accomplishing both!" Proceeds from the festival are given to the Palm Beach County schools' film and television programs to provide new technologies for optimal learning in the forms of grants and scholarships. In addition to the funds for youth in the community, bringing the art of filmmaking to Palm Beach County is another goal. Filmmakers interested in using Palm Beach County for filming purposes were able to see the area thanks to the festival staff and local indie filmmakers who guided them around beautiful South Florida.

 
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