Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival CEO Greg Von Hausch believes that festivals such as his should offer their audiences a few surprises. This year, it is Von Hausch himself who is surprised.
The 28th annual FLIFF will run Oct. 18 through Nov. 10 with themes familiar and new. Oscar winner Anna Paquin (left) is the marquee name attending FLIFF 2013. In the Beloved Former Sex Symbol category, Ann-Margret will play the part handled last year by Carol Baker. And in the role of Tough-Talking Icon, Ed Asner will step in for 2012’s James Caan. Other bold-faced names with films to celebrate are Tab Hunter, Finola Hughes (“General Hospital”), public TV environmentalist Jonathan Bird and local oceanographer and artist Guy Harvey.
The surprise will come opening night, typically a showcase for light, accessible fare at FLIFF. But this year, the festival will open with “Free Ride,” a taut tale of a hard-luck single mom ensnared in the South Florida drug culture in the 1970s. It was written by former South Floridian Shana Betz and stars Paquin, best known for her recent “True Blood” and “X-Men” roles and the Oscar she won at age 11 for “The Piano.” Both will attend the Oct. 18 screening.
“I usually open with a comedy, something fun, and I’m kind of surprised myself that I decided to go this way,” Von Hausch says. “But [‘Free Ride’] is terrific. You’ll be gripping your seat. … And Anna Paquin is just brilliant.”