By Indiewire | Indiewire November 20, 2003 at 2:0AM
Ft. Lauderdale Concludes Long Fest with "MIFFO" and "Cleopatra" Taking Top Film Kudos
by Brian Brooks
The 31-day Ft. Lauderdale International Film Festival came to a close last weekend with Swedish film "MIFFO" taking the event's top prize of best overall film. "MIFFO," which had its U.S. premiere at the festival is a comedic love story directed by Daniel Lind-Lagerlof. Best foreign film kudos went to Argentine produced film "Cleopatra" by Eduardo Mignogna. "Cleopatra," which won a Golden Zenith award for best Latin American film at the Montreal World Cinema Festival earlier this year, is about a retired teacher and soap star who uproot themselves for an adventurous weekend.
Italian doc "Perlasca" by Alberto Negrin took the fest's Humanitarian award. The film is the true story of Giorgio Perlasca, a cattle dealer from Padue, who saved over 5,000 Jews in what has been described as a "Schindler's List" 2. Ft. Lauderdale's prize for best documentary, meanwhile, went to multiple Emmy award-winner Peter Schnall's "This is a Ladies Game," a story centered on the Rutgers University women's basketball team. "Frankie and Johnny are Married" director Michael Pressman won the Renaissance award for acting, directing and producing. The feature is a romantic comedy about Pressman, a successful TV producer and director and his talented and struggling actress wife.
In other honors, Sir Ben Kingsley received a career achievement award prior to the November 14th screening of his latest project, "House of Sand and Fog" by Vadim Perelman. Jacqueline Bisset also took a career achievement nod that evening and also attended the Saturday evening screening of her film "Latter Days" by C. Jay Cox. And, Nestor Carbonell, star of the closing night film "Manhood" was the recipient of the Star on the Horizon award. "Manhood" took the award for best American indie film.
Attendance at the Ft. Lauderdale fest was down 28% from last year's event, although this year's festival was actually eight days shorter and had a smaller line-up and fewer screens. "The decrease in overall attendance was due to the shortening of the festival eight less days over last year and with screenings only available at The Parker Playhouse and Cinema Paradiso," said festival CEO Gregory von Hausch in an event release. "Fewer films were screened, so therefore, less attendance. Overall, I am quite pleased with this year's festival." Next year's festival has been scheduled for October 15th through November 14th.
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