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The Aruba International Film Festival (AIFF) has quickly become the international film community’s newest “must-attend” summer event. The festival offers a pleasurable and inviting atmosphere for filmmakers, press and film lovers. It serves to not only develop an understanding and appreciation of the art of cinema and filmmaking, but also to inspire, educate and promote emerging local and regional filmmaking talent. This in turn has helped position Aruba as a center of art, culture and creativity, and as a viable destination for international film and commercial productions.
The AIFF was founded in 2010 by film producers Jonathan Vieira and Giuseppe Cioccarelli, with artistic direction by 30-year industry veteran Claudio Masenza. Previous editions of the festival have showcased a diverse array of critically acclaimed fiction films and documentaries from every corner of the globe, and have attracted such notable industry names as:
Hollywood leading man Richard Gere (Pretty Woman, An Officer and a Gentleman)
Aruba withdrawals. In one month since the 2nd annual Aruba International Film Festival (AIFF) ended, I've traveled to four countries and two festivals, but still I've got Aruba on my mind. Like a sentimental long distance love affair Aruba has captured my heart. Whether it’s the pristine Caribbean blue beaches and powdery sable-blanc or the potpourri Latin tongue and warm welcoming locals or the green gregarious iguanas, lime cacti, avocado palms, jade/olive-hued divi national tree, or whether it be the new traditional international film festival that brings filmmakers from all over the world making a cultural melting pot celebrating sun, savvy and the silver screen…whatever it may be, or for all that it is, this is one alluring locale and, as the Arubanos say, ‘one happy island’.
Yes, it's a hard job to travel from country to country, film festival hopping like a frog from Lilly pad to Lilly pad. My friends call me ‘Little Miss Hobo’ on account of how much I travel. Many assume that for me each place melts into the next, all jumbling up in my memory like a messy nonsensical film montage of non-sequential flashbacks, but it is not true. My mission is not just to tour a place but also to dig my hands deep into its local and international film industry. In that respect, each place retains its own distinct incomparable character, but some places stick out more than others and no matter how many times you visit them you just can't get enough. Who can explain it? Some locales just capture the imagination and take one's breath away, remaining in the mind’s eye like an unforgettable image of perfection, a Garden of Eden of sorts that neither time nor distance can expunge. Like a great film that gets better with time the more you think about it or a long distance relationship that grows in fondness with each passing day spent apart, that is how I feel for Ahhh-ruuuba!
What is it about that mighty little island? Aruba, that solar situé that makes me start counting down till next year the last day of each year's festival? Granted, AIFF 2011 marked only the second annual festival but it was the same last year where as soon as the festival ended I was counting down till the next. And again this year, since it's closing night party on June 16th, I've been counting the days till AIFF 2012. Why is that? Aruba Withdrawals!!! I've got it bad! But I know I'm not the only one. Ask any of the press family or filmmakers who have attended two years in a row now and you'll hear like sentiments of Aruba nostalgia and a an exultation of laughs, anecdotes, and a twinkling in the eyes over private sweet memories.
There was some apprehension that this year's festival would not be as good as or as successful as last year's opening but the festival programmers and producers let it all go at the closing party because they knew that not only was this year a smash hit but it was even better than the first. So, what can we expect for the 3rd annual festival to see that it keeps on the rise? Well, they will have a steep competition arriving next door in the near future with Rotterdam Film Festival opening a new festival in neighboring island Curacao; however, I doubt this will cause much worry in Aruba where the region's first 'boutique festival' has already solidified it's place in the international film world with Hollywood Foreign Press behind it and some of the best PR available in the industry, besides the fact that people just LOVE it here!!! I mean seriously, where else can all party guests expect to be thrown into the pool by festival producers at the closing night party? And where else do festival programmers screen the films with the audience congratulating the filmmakers in tears, crying over the beauty of its greatness? In Aruba, filmmakers, producers, press, public- all are family celebrating these common passions – sun, cinema and Ahhh-ruba!!!
-written by Vanessa McMahon on July 16, 2011
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