KEY WEST, Florida Keys — Film aficionados can immerse themselves in cinematic offerings during the eighth annual Key West Film Festival happening now through Sunday, Nov. 24, showcasing intriguing Florida, Cuba, LGBTQ and ecological themes.
For the first time the festival, annually themed “Passion Meets Paradise,” is to unveil two new shorts lineups: films suitable for all ages about the fragile health of ecosystems, oceans and marine life; and a selection from the Havana Film Festival about contemporary life in Cuba — the island nation that lies just 90 miles from Key West.
The 2019 festival offers “great storytelling for social consciousness,” said Brooke Christian, Key West Film Festival founder and chairman. “We’ve been fortunate to have the best creative and design talent in the movie business come to Key West.”
Nine “eco” short films include “The Blues Crab,” “Phil & Grace: The World’s Oldest Scuba Diving Couple,” “Underwater Senses,” “The Return of the Panther,” “Hanging Bear,” “John Pennekamp Cleanup,” “Toxic Algae Blooms,” “The Butterfly Effect” and “Of the Sea.”
Director Kimberly Peirce and actor Tom Skerritt are to receive the prestigious Golden Key Awards at this year’s festival.
A 10th anniversary release screening of the poignant gay-themed film “A Single Man,” is to honor Phillips’ work. Starring actors Colin Firth and Julianne Moore, the film was directed by fashion designer Tom Ford.
A selection of LGBTQ films is curated by Eugene Hernandez, deputy director of film at Lincoln Center and co-publisher of Film Comment magazine.
Nearly 40 Florida-made productions are to include 15 films produced by students, 14 independent shorts, three features and five screenplays. All are to be screened at Tropic Cinema, 416 Eaton St.
Florida features include “A Name Without A Place,” a whimsical weird love letter to South Florida by director Kenny Riches, involving a sheltered young man who retraces his late brother’s footsteps to the Florida Keys from Miami Beach. “Errol Flynn’s Ghost: Hollywood in Havana” is about movie-making in Havana during the 1940s and '50s.
The opening-night film is director Martin Scorcese’s critically acclaimed “The Irishman,” an epic saga about organized crime in post-war America, starring Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Joe Pesci. Spanning decades, the Netflix film chronicles the disappearance of legendary union boss Jimmy Hoffa.
Scheduled to close out the festival is “Waves,” set in South Florida’s beachside town of Hollywood and produced by Orlando-based director Trey Edward Shults. It traces the emotional journey of a suburban black family whose members navigate love, forgiveness and compassion after a tragic loss.
Social events and festivities celebrate Key West landmarks. An opening night party is scheduled Wednesday, Nov. 20, at Audubon House & Tropical Gardens, 205 Whitehead St.
Each year, the festival awards $10,000 in student filmmaker scholarships — including $5,000 to recognize aspiring Florida filmmakers, their heritage and creative vision.
A full schedule of films and show times is at kwfilmfest.com
Left to right, Terry McIlvain, Tom Beringer, Mark Ebenhoch, and Bob Orwig during a 2018 Key West Film Festival Q&A session. Images: Carol Tedesco
“Brothers in Arms” film director Paul Sanchez, center, at the 2018 Key West Film Festival with crew members of the 1986 film “Platoon,” left to right, Mesquite, TX, based actor Bob Orwig.
The opening-night film is director Martin Scorcese’s critically acclaimed “The Irishman,” an epic saga about organized crime in post-war America,