Film Scouts Diaries

1997 Miami Film Festival Diaries
Day One

by Karen Jaehne

These were the film festival choices for late Jan-early Feb: Berlin, Utah and Florida. Tell me how smart I am for choosing the 14th Miami Film Festival, at the flamingo-pink and swanky Double-Tree Grand Hotel with a view of a couple bridges stretching across the sound and a schedule of films that lets you see each one at an unhurried pace. And a festival organization that makes it feel truly like a festival instead of "They Shoot Horses, Don't They."

Just when we were thinking this was a kind and gentler event - in walked Sylvester Stallone! With an entourage of 9 folks looking just as tough as him. A local lawyer whispered in my ear that Sly gave the festival $75,000 this year and is aiming to build a film studio in Miami.

Sly is the Robert Redford of the Miami Festival. So it's not far from that fact to the best feature of the opening night shebang - the cigar room. Indeed, this is not an event for wimps. Even the ladies left the ballroom from time to time to stroll down the hall from the Hilton Hotel ballroom to a high-ceilinged room with a table full of cigars that had been hand-rolled (by virgins?) over in Little Havana about a mile away. Big fat cigars, long lean ones, squat sexy ones, power stogies!

In between puffs, New Yorkers met each other, always a strange out-of-town experience. David Meyer, whose brand new book "The 100 Best Films to Rent You've Never Heard Of" is attracting the attention of video-visitors, runs into Godfrey Chelsea of New York Press and they discover they attended U. of North Carolina in the same years and never met. So much for the cineaste theory of knowledge: "Everything I know I learned in the dark."

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