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By Craig Weincek
Film fans can look forward to the third edition of the International Film Festival of Panama (IFF Panama) with over 60 films being shown from April 3rd to the 9th. Pituka Ortega Heilbron, one of the founders and current Director of the Festival, announced that the ambitious event will not only be held at the Cinepolis Multiplaza, but that gala events will take place at the National Theater, with Latin-American retrospectives being shown at the Anita Villalaz Theater. There will also be out-door screenings free-of-charge at the Quinto Centenario Park.
The movies being shown represent 35 different countries, with an emphasis on productions from Central and South America as well as the Caribbean. Diana Sanchez, who is in charge of selecting the films, explained that some of them have already been screened in other well-known festivals such as Sundance, Cannes, San Sebastian and Toronto, which was created by Henk Van Der Kolk, who is co-founder of IFF Panama.
New happenings this year include a program called MEETs, which aspires to develop the first Latin American co-production market. Arianne Benedetti, Cinema General Director of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry (Directora General de Cine del MICI) said that the MEETs program is designed to help promote professional networks of filmmakers, producers and investors working together to create a more vibrant film industry in the region. As in the past, directors, screenwriters and some actors will participate in workshops for amateur and experienced filmmakers and fans alike.
Still time to volunteer
Film fans and students may want to take the opportunity to become involved in the International Film Festival of Panama by volunteering to help conduct the programs.
There will also be a new set of awards presented at this year’s festival. Ibero-American cinema will be recognized with the first ever Platinum Awards (Premios Platinos) that will include eight categories limited to filmmakers from 22 Latin countries. It is hoped that this will become an annual presentation.
The IFF Panama Foundation is a nonprofit organization created to support the implementation of the festival and to promote cultural and education programs as an integral part of the annual event. The festival is sponsored by the Ministry of Commerce and the Directorate General of Cinema with the support of the National Institute of Culture.