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IFF: A cornucopia of prize winning movies for Panama Film Festival

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By Dafydd Young

April 26 to May 2 is going to be a busy time for Panama film buffs as they try to figure out how many of the 50 films from around the world they can see at the first staging of the International Film Festival (IFF).

 

Pablo Giorgelli, winner of the Camera d’Or for ‘Las Acacias’ at the Cannes FestivalPablo Giorgelli, winner of the Camera d’Or for ‘Las Acacias’ at the Cannes Festival

 

The Festival has released a list of 50 films  that will be screened over the week They include entries  from Brazil, Cuba, Peru, Portugal and Argentina that have already received awards at at some of the most prestigious film festivals including Cannes, Toronto, Sundance and San Sebastian.

The official release of Juan de los Muertos (Juan of the Dead), a satirical horror movie that won an award at the Havana International Film Festival, brings with it  an irreverent sense of humor.

The screen story of controversial Brazilian soccer star Heleno de Freitas will be a “red carpet” feature along with one of last year´s most award-winning films, Pablo Giorgelli´s  Las Acacias (The Acacias) from Argentina. and  the Guatemalan offering  Distancia (Distance), Sergio Ramírez's directorial debut.

 "The  screening  50 films with awards from  the world´s most prestigious festivals, an accomplishment that will help  drive the country to become a main tourist and cultural attraction in the region" says  Festival director Henk Van Der Kolk.

The festival will also  bring an impressive selection of movie shakers and movers including stars, directors and producers.

It will be a good lift off  for the festival’s aim of  disseminating the best international films in Panama while supporting  the promotion of culture in the country and  fostering the development of local industries and promoting film education.

It’s a hefty ambition, but Henk  has done it before. As a co-founder of the Toronto International Film Festival 38 years ago, he watched it grow to become one of the world’s most prestigious film events, bringing millions of dollars into the local economy.

Raffaella De Laurentiis,Raffaella De Laurentiis,

Meanwhile Hollywood film producer, Raffaella De Laurentiis, believes the country is an ideal venue for filmmaking. She is well known  as the producer of such screen hits as Conan the Barbarian and Conan the Destroyer, starring  Arnold Schwarzenegger; and , David Lynch, The Last Legion,  with Colin Firth,  and Aishwarya  Ray,  and The Forbidden Kingdom with Jet Li and Jackie Chan. De Laurentiis  praised the initiative to hold a film festival in Panama,  destined  to become a cultural junction  in the region and a platform for new offerings  to the  world of cinema.

The producer  is and honorary member of the Board of Directors of Panama IFF and daughter of legendary filmmaker Dino De Laurentiis and renowned actress Silvana Mangano.

2012 – “A very good year” for Panama movie fans

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By Ingrid Jones

Frank Sinatra crooning  “ A Very Good Year”  might be a good introduction to Leap Year offerings for Panama movie fans.

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US Embassy film series takes in “West Wing”

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By Ingrid Jones

Those of you who have never seen an episode of the Emmy Award winning TV series The West Wing can make up for your loss with a full screen projection in the comfort of the Canal Museum  Cathedral Plaza) theater on February 28.

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Oscar hype: good news for Panama movie buffs

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By Dafydd Young 

February  for movie buffs means Oscar time, and for those living in Panama a brief window of opportunity to see some movies that do not focus on teenage  bathroom humor, rogue cops, shoot-em up car chases or forgettable offerings in 3D.

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Star studded team to put Panama on the film festival circuit

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By Dafydd Young

An international team of  high end organizers of film festivals around the world is in place for the launch of the Panama International Film Festival.

 

Henk Van Der Kolk, discussing the upcoming festival with Canadian Ambassador Sylvia CesararroHenk Van Der Kolk, discussing the upcoming festival with Canadian Ambassador Sylvia Cesararro

Added together, their combined experience, adds up to  at least a  century of successful presentation.

For starters,there's the festival’s spearhead, Henk Van Der Kolk, a filmmaker with a long film pedigree. He  co-founded the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) some 38 years ago and supervised it over the years as it grew to be one of the biggest and most important festivals in the world. Add to that the experience of Panama’s own renowned  documentary  filmmaker Ortega Pituka Heilbron. She will co-direct the festival with Van Der Kolk to deliver Panama’s leap onto the world festival circuit. 

Joining the formidable duo  will be Diana Sanchez, a recognized specialist in Latin America cinema who  will be artistic director. Sanchez has been the Ibero-American film programmer for the Toronto Festival since 2002. Along with the choice of films in Spanish and Portuguese for TIFF, Sanchez was also responsible for the co-scheduling of the program City to City Buenos Aires in 2011, and the programming of Novo Life: The new Brazilian cinema, TIFF National Spotlight 2003.

She is a consultant for the the Festival of Rotterdam program and principal consultant of the Ibero-American program International Film Festival of Miami. She is also in charge of programs for Calgary Latin Wave, a series of films from Latin America, Fundación Proa in Argentina.

IFF Panama also has the support of Denise Hughes, a professional associated with international film festivals who has worked for the Miami International Film Festival, International Film Festival Cartagena de Indias, and Documentary Film Festival in New York (NY DOC ).
 Hughes has extensive experience in organizing, developing and structuring film festivals for Latin American markets.
 And of course  IFF has the advice of prominent figures from the Panamanian local cultural scene including the director of Chance, Abner Benaim, president of the Panamanian Association of Film Producers (ASOCINE), Luis Pacheco, leading painter Olga Sinclair and Yasser Williams Arosemena, lawyer who serves as Chairman of the Board, among others

Panama IFF  sees its mission to create a cultural bridge  between its people and the best of the world’s films and build an event that will promote a local film industry and film education while adding another incentive to increase Panama’s tourism. It has the support of the National Government through the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, the Film Commission, the National Institute of Culture (Inac).

Panama IFF Panama will run from April 26 to May 2. It’s going to be a celebrity studded event, and Newsroom Panama will be your daily source of information in English. All stories will be filed under Entertainment.

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