Ol’ Jack the film buff

In one of my other lives, I spent 25 years as a published movie reviewer, the last 13 on local television. (I know what you’re wondering—How old is this guy? The answer is old.) Anyway, I can tell you that ol’Jack is very excited about the upcoming third annual International Film Festival of Panama, even though I wish they had named it the Panama International Film Festival so we all could call it “PIFF” for short.

If you’re at all interested in movies, you need to check out their website www.iffpanama.org and then make plans for the festival which runs from April 3 through April 9. One of the sections on the web site has suggestions on “How to enjoy the Film Festival.” Well, I’ve simplified it to one suggestion—attend.

Obviously, however, the dedicated organizers of the festival felt that some potential viewers might need some help and Ol’Jack is willing to add his two cents worth. After all, one of my jobs as a critic was as a consumer advocate—I saw a lot of bad movies so my “fans” would be warned and not waste their money. So if you’re uncertain, here’s some advice from a guy who used to see nearly 300 films a year.

Under the category “How do I know which movies I’ll like?” The simple answer is you don’t. Suffice it to say that a qualified jury of film experts selected the flicks being shown, with an emphasis on Latin American films. Don’t worry, if the movie is in Spanish, there will be English subtitles and vice versa. If the picture is in yet another language, there will be captions in both English and Spanish.

The text of the website goes on to suggest that a viewer might base their selection on who’s the director or by country or theme and the website does provide the films organized under those categories. Or you could make the choice based on when you’re actually able to attend. Take a chance, if you’re available after work at 5 p.m. , go to the movie showing then. Of course, some of Jack’s elderly retired friends have all the time in the world, so they have no excuse for not making a day of it. The regular shows start at 2 p.m. and run all day and into the night at the Cinepolis theatres in Multiplaza with plenty of free parking.

Of course if you’re into making the scene, and who’s not, you can plan to attend the red-carpet events every night at the National Theatre. All the programs there begin at 7:30 p.m.

Advice from a guy who used to see nearly 300 films a year

The site also mentions that there is no dress code; but it’s hard to picture someone strolling down the red carpet in a tee shirt, cut-offs and sandals. When ol’Jack makes his entrance, you can be sure he’ll look sharp in a flashy shirt, pressed slacks and dress crocs. My lovely wife always looks great so she’ll not disappoint.

The best advice on the page is “or just be adventurous.” What’s the worst thing that can happen? Even if you’re bored to tears and think the movie is stupid, you still supported an extremely important and ambitious cultural event. However, my bet is that you’ll enjoy seeing something out of the ordinary. One of the best parts of being a movie critic was that I got to see the flicks before anyone else and I saw many that weren’t mainstream. Don’t worry; it will be fun—just keep an open mind.


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