FREEPORT, BAHAMAS – The return of “FLIFF On Location” to Grand Bahama Island and the Pelican Bay Hotel this past weekend, was a heartwarming experience for President and CEO of the Fort Lauderdale Film Festival (FLIFF), Greg Von Hausch.
The festival’s strong connection to the island, was the driving force behind its return.
“FLIFF has a wonderful history with Grand Bahama and it feels good to be back”, said Von Hausch. “We first came to the island in 2009, to screen a movie at the Regency Theatre. That event was a tremendous success, and the catalyst for our agreement with the Ministry of Tourism to come to Freeport to host FLIFF at Pelican Bay from 2011 to 2013. During that time, we showcased a minimum 20 films a year, met aspiring Bahamian filmmakers and showcased some of their movies at the festivals. We also brought many filmmakers to Grand Bahama.”
Grateful for support the FLIFF has received in the past, Von Hausch felt it was time for the festival to return to the island. “We know that Grand Bahama has experienced economic challenges since our last festival, and we are thrilled to be back and to contribute to the economy. The team wanted our return to be special, so this weekend we are screening 15 movies for $20 and all proceeds will be donated to the Grand Bahama Children’s Home.”
Many local Bahamians joined the FLIFF Directors, producers and families who traveled over for the event and took full advantage of the opportunity to watch 15 movies over the two-day period for only $20. In preparation for the event, Pelican Bay’s staff transformed the second and third floor conference rooms of The Canal House into screening rooms, with large television screens, theatre style seating and an indoor concession stand selling popcorn, nachos, candies, hot dogs, and beverages.
Pelican Bay Operations Manager, Della Bridgewater, said the resort was focused on creating a memorable experience for the festival. “The team was excited to welcome FLIFF On Location back home to Pelican Bay and Grand Bahama,” said Bridgewater. “It’s been six years since the festival has been to Freeport, and we wanted to give the filmmakers and the persons attending the festival a warm greeting and an unforgettable experience.”
Director of the Ministry of Tourism Grand Bahama Office, Karen Seymour, was also elated at the festival’s return and is hopeful about the rekindled relationship. “It was great to welcome FLIFF back to Grand Bahama,” said Seymour. “There was a wonderful selection of films this weekend, including a Bahamian documentary! We appreciate Greg and his team sharing this opportunity with us once again, and thanks to Pelican Bay Hotel, proceeds from this weekend will benefit the Grand Bahama Children’s Home. We hope this is the re-start of more things to come.”
The filmmakers that travelled to Freeport, took time out to interact with moviegoers during the discussion sessions that followed their screenings. Trinidadian filmmaker Darisha Beresford, was overwhelmed by the opportunity to present her movie “The Cutlass” in The Bahamas. “It is wonderful being here, I wish I could go to every island and show my film!” Beresford, an award-winning Director, shared her experiences about making the film. “More than 90 percent of the cast and crew in the movie are from Trinidad and Tobago. Our community came together to create this movie, and with a small budget we managed to create a good film. It would be wonderful to collaborate with filmmakers from other Caribbean islands, and produce more films telling our stories, showcasing our beautiful countries.”
Audiences enjoyed a lineup of independent films that included comedy, action, drama, thriller, and documentaries. Aspiring Bahamian Screen-Writer Marlena Leonard, appreciated the opportunity to experience “FLIFF On Location” at home. Leonard recently graduated from university abroad, and was motivated by the festival. “As a writer, I was very inspired by the content I saw. Seeing beaches, the ocean, and other island themes were wonderful, because these are elements I use in the stories that I write. It would be validating for me to have one of my films showcased at FLIFF someday. I would be excited for my community to see themselves represented in my stories on a big screen.”
“FLIFF On Location: Grand Bahama” 2019 was sponsored by the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line, Barefoot Marketing, The Bahamas Weekly.com and Pelican Bay Hotel. For more information on FLIFF visit their website www.fliff.com.