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Established 1995 filmfestivals.com serves and documents relentless the festivals community, offering 92.000 articles of news, free blog profiles and functions to enable festival matchmaking with filmmakers.

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Bahamas Film Fest with Sean Connery and Nicolas Cage.

Though clouded by a lack of the customary Bahamian sun, this festival branded as ‘cinema in paradise’ and guided by ‘Spirit of Freedom’ and ‘New Visions” awards in the documentary and narrative sections completed its third edition at the upscale Atlantis Hotel on December 10th.

Over a four day period more than 60 fifty films were screened including selections spotlighting recent Caribbean and Bahamanian film making, family oriented productions, and films in the Nicolas Cage Retrospective. Among the award winning productions were CHRONICLES OF AN ESCAPE (Israel A. Caetenao, Argentine 2006) ENCOUNTER POINT (Ronit Avni and Julia Bache, Israel/Palestine 2006), the festival favorite HALF NELOSN (Ryan Fleck, USA 2006), and the FedEx sponsored audience award for best feature JOHNNY SLADE’S GREATEST HITS ( Larry Bramire, USA 2006) and best documentary, ELUTHERAN ADVENTURE (Kareem Morimer, Bahamas, 2006). Among other noteworthy selections were the features WHO LOVES THE SUN (Matt Bissonette, Canada 2006) with a crisp performance by Molly Parker and TEN CANOES (Rolf de Heer, Peter Djigirr, Australia, 2006) a touching period fable told in an Aboriginal Language. Another fortunate choice was the documentary THE ORIGINS OF AIDS, (Catherine Peix, Peter Chappell, Canada/France, 2003). This controversial film suggests that AIDS originated through the mass vaccination of children in the Belgian Congo applying vaccine derived from chimps with SIV. About one third of the selected titles originated in the United States with the remainder coming from 16 other countries, including numerous co-production.

The program featured film workshops for children as well as several panels on topics like Bahamian film making, film financing, marketing & distribution, and. An unusual but well attended screening seminar covered HIV/AIDS in the Bahamas and the Caribbean. A follow up is planned for the 2007 festival edition.

The film festival audience includes diverse groups such as native Bahamanians, foreign tourists, specifically from the US and Canada, and expatriates living in the Bahamas. As informal discussions showed the well balanced program appealed to these groups. Further a second screening venue outside the Atlantis Hotel, the Galleria Complex about half an hour shuttle bus drive away, makes for easier access for those outside Paradise Island where the Atlantis Hotel is located.

Undoubtedly, a very important (if not the most important) component of the 2006 Bahamas International Film Festival was the active involvement of two long time residents of the Bahamas, Sir Sean Connery and Nicolas Page. Connery who filmed several James Bond movies in the Bahamas in the sixties bestowed on Nicolas Cage the festival’s Career Achievement Tribute Chopard Award during a festive gala sponsored by Lombard Odier Darier Hentsch. Both actors pledged their commitment to the Bahamas International Film Festival. In his address Connery reminded the Bahamas government of the need for more official financial support to secure the future of the festival and to expand the length of the festival. As he put it “It could take a 10-day event. But it’s got to have the united front of the government behind it whichever one goes in” [elections are upcoming CM]. Cage emphasized the importance of the festival’s contribution to the Bahamas‘ film industry growth but also stressed the role the festival can play in fostering independent productions and in the training of young film makers.

Cage’s promise to bring Hollywood professionals to the Bahamas, Connery’s strong support for more public sector funding, and the corporate backing already enjoyed by the festival, including but not restricted to Ansbacher, the Atlantis Hotel, Chopard, Fedex, Lombard Odier Darier Hentsch Royal Bank of Canada, and Versace squares well with the planned establishment of a Caribbean Talent Campus during the next Bahamas International Film Festival scheduled from December 6 – 13, 2007.

Claus Mueller*
e-mail filmexchange@gmail.com

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