Aruba 2013: Opening Gala
Posted on Thursday July 4, 2013, 19:10 by Simon Braund in Under The Radar
Last night’s gala opening of the fourth Aruba International Film Festival was marked by not one but two red carpet events. The first was for the regional premiere of Paul Verhoeven’s ingenious documentary-slash-character-comedy Steekspel (Tricked), the world’s first interactively written movie (and much more later from Verhoeven himself on what it’s like to make a film not merely by committee but in conjunction with the general public - a desk-bound Apocalypse Now by the sound of it).
Hot on the heels of that was the world premiere of Abo So (Only You), a romantic musical directed by 36-year-old Juan Francisco Pardo and the first feature film ever made in Aruba, quite an achievement for a place with a population a fifth the size of Sheffield and nothing in the way of filmmaking facilities. The film, which stars Raphaela Mahadeo and Miguel Genser, boasts music from Aruba’s legendary singer-songwriter Padú del Caribe, author of Aruba Dushi Tera, once the rallying cry of the independence movement and now the national anthem. Again, more from Pardo later in the week.
Empire is back on the island thanks principally to the indefatigable Jonathan Viera, festival founder and Executive Director, who, alongside a team of full-time staff, volunteers and interns, has worked tirelessly to put the Aruba festival on the map. And with new Programing Director Aaron Hosé on board, the line-up this year is stronger than ever. Spanning five categories - International Features, Caribbean Spotlight Series, Doxnfocus, Aruba Flavor Shorts and International Shorts - there’s a definite focus on local talent but also a broad range of international movies with several enjoying their world premiere. Among those making their debut in Aruba this week are Richard Gray’s thriller Mine Games, starring Lincoln’s Joseph Cross; A Perfect Man starring Liev Shreiber and Jean Tripplehorn; based-on-fact crime drama Empire State starring Dwayne Johnson; action-horror flick Raze, starring Death Proof’s Zoe Bell; and The Hot Flashes, Susan Seidleman’s comedy about a group of middle-aged women who form a basketball team to raise money for a breast cancer clinic. Starring Brooke Shields, Virginia Madsen, Wanda Sykes and Daryl Hannah, the film will screen on the festival’s closing night.
As the Doxnfocus heading suggests (and whoever came up with that name needs a slap) there is also, as before, an emphasis on documentary shorts and features. A few that have piqued Empire’s interest include Angels In Exile, the story of two remarkable South African street kids eight years in the making; Terms And Conditions May Apply, a timely investigation of how corporations abuse personal information amassed from the internet; and Finding Hillywood, a chronicle of Rwanda’s emergent film industry and the healing power of cinema itself. Hopefully there’ll be a couple of parties too...