by Eugene Hernandez

Any festival that plucks you from the brisk autumn
temperatures of Manhattan and drops you in the middle of the tropical warmth
of the South Florida coast has a feather in its cap from the get go. Add to
that a warmth that transcends weather and extends to a charming group of
festival organizers & staff, and you may just have a winning combination --
one more ingredient required to seal the deal, a diverse group of interesting
indiefilms. Well, it looks like Ft. Lauderdale is about to deliver...

Festival President & Director Gregory von Hausch welcomed filmmakers, guests
and press yesterday during a kickoff event at Ft. Lauderdale's Sheraton
Yankee Trader. A selection of festival filmmakers were brought before the
press to offer brief greetings, introduce their films and plug upcoming

Among the films that intrigued this writer: Jon Kroll's "Menno's Mind", a
digital effects filled (Larry Estes produced) indie that features Bill
Campbell, Stephanie Romanov, Robert Vaughn, and Bill Irwin; Eve Annenberg's
self-proclaimed "chick movie" "Dogs: The Rise and Fall of an All Girl Bookie Joint"; Michael Hacker's "The Destiny of Marty Fine" (a Slamdance '96 premiere); and George Esguerra's "Talk to Me", making its world premiere at the festival. Other notable films screening during the festival include (among others):
Scott Hicks' "Shine", Stewart Schill's "Reptile Man", Hettie MacDonald's
"Beautiful Thing", Fridik Thor Fridriksson's "Cold Fever", Trevor Nunn's "Twelfth Night", John Schultz' "Bandwagon", Keith Gordon's "Mother Night", Gary Walkow's "Notes From The Underground", Doug Pray's "Hype!", Iara Lee's "Synthetic Pleasures", and Joe Brewster's "The Keeper".