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BIFF Launches Strong

It's not a bad gig receiving an assignment to attend the Bahamas International Film Festival in December, especially when it is freezing cold back home in New York. Even more satisfying is lounging around a beach bar with a Bahama Mama in hand, sifting through the film schedule knowing full well that friends at home are getting drenched, in the freezing rain. The terrific weather, the clear blue (but still chilly) Atlantic nearby, and a room with a view at the monolithic Atlantis Paradise Island Resort, the event's headquarters, might be enough to make the festival worthwhile, but fortunately, BIFF proved to be a success in its own right for its inaugural event.


Evidently, the festival's passionate and spunky director Leslie Vanderpool caught the attention of the Bahamian Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon. Perry G. Christie who sat with the audience on opening night for Steven Soderbergh's "Oceans 12." "We will give the resources of the country to ensure that this beginning is a defining moment in our history. I believe it will become [an important festival] among the movers and shakers," said the PM while addressing the crowd prior to the screening. Vanderpool said she had met with him to sell the idea of having a festival -- apparently it worked. Commanding the attention of a prime minister in a country of under 290,000 people, by the way, is most likely less daunting then might be expected.


To ease logistical snafus inherent in starting a film festival, BIFF hired the folks from Festival Consulting Group to organize the event. The chatter among filmmakers and other attendees seemed to indicate organization was surprisingly steady for a brand new festival. "I've never seen a first-year festival run as well as this," said filmmaker Roger Corman, who received the festival's Honorary Maverick Award on Saturday evening of the festival at Mountbatten House in Nassau, the former residence of Britain's last Viceroy to India, Lord Louis Mountbatten's mistress. Corman, who has over 50 directing credits including "Little Shop of Horrors" starring a very young Jack Nicholson, as well as more than 250 producing credit, went on to say that he believed the festival could grow into a "great" festival.


Not surprisingly, Vanderpool echoed similar thoughts to indieWIRE after the festival concluded early last week. "It could not have been showcased, programmed, nor ran more smoothly for a first year festival. I foresee and would like BIFF to be one of the most sought after festivals in the world as well as being a launching pad for Bahamians and Caribbean filmmakers.....


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