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Best Film at Lauderdale for the Diving Bell & the Butterfly

The Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival ended last evening with a gala premiere screening of the Festival Closing Night Film, MIDNIGHT CLEAR, with director Dallas Jenkins and actor Stephen Baldwin in attendance. Prior to the screening, Gregory von Hausch, erstwhile Festival Director and the charismatic on-stage presence for the event, announced the major winners in a variety of categories.

Winning Best Film honors was the French film THE DIVING BELL AND THE BUTTERFLY, by painter-turned-director Julian Schnabel. The film, which won Schnabel a Best Director prize at the Cannes Film Festival, has been a major hit on the international film festival circuit and will open later this month via Miramax Films. Best Actor and Best Actress prizes were awarded to two thespians in the same film. Philip Seymour Hoffman and Laura Linney were named for their roles as a brother and sister who must put aside their past differences to confront the decline in health of their cantakerous father (played by Broadway veteran Philip Bosco) in THE SAVAGES, directed by Tamara Jenkins. The film, to be distributed by Fox Searchlight later this month, is destined to be one of the most talked about indie films of the season.

The Florida-based film CHOPS won both Best Documentary and Sunshine Celluloid (for Best Florida Produced Film). CHOPS is directed by Florida-based Bruce Broder, who chronicled the experience of a Florida high school jazz band as it travels up to New York City to compete in the prestigious Essentially Ellington Festival at Lincoln Center. The film is a winning portrait of determination and courage that had its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival. For more information on the films and events that graced the 22nd edition of the Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival, log on to the Festival's website:

Greg & BonnieHats off to Gregory von Hausch, Bonnie Leigh Adams, Hal Axler and publicist extraordinaire Jan Mitchell (as well as the many, many volunteers who bring a strong community involvement to the event) for offering the South Florida community a consistent, convivial and stimulating few weeks of independent and international cinema. Their efforts add immeasurably to the cultural climate of the area and, hopefully, stimulate audiences to explore indie and international films throughout the year (many of which will be screened at the Festival's year-round cinematheque, Cinema Paradiso). Good show.

Sandy Mandelberger, Fort Lauderdale FF Dailies Editor

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