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Lynn Whitfield stars at Belize’s 12th International Film Festival red carpet gala opening

Hollywood celebrity and Emmy award winning actress and producer Lynn Whitfield was undoubtedly the star of red carpet gala opening night of the 12th Belize International Film Festival at the Bliss Institute for the Performing Arts in Belize City on Wednesday evening, November 9. Whitfield is judge on the film jury to select the winners, along with Swiss movie producer Marianne Pletscher, producer/director Rebecca Roos of Aruba and director Producer Michael Mihail of Los Angeles.

BIFF executive director Suzette Zayden

BIFF executive director Suzette Zayden

Whitfield is perhaps best known in Belize for “Madea’s Family Reunion”, “Eve’s Bayou” and “The Thin Line between Love and Hate, though a highlight of her career was her Golden Globe nomination for her title role in “The Josephine Baker story, and her Emmy award for Lead Actress in a television miniseries. Her other movie credits include “Silverado” with Danny Glover and Jeff Goldblum, “Gone Fishin”, “Stepmom”, “Head of State”, and “The Women”. Most recently, she has starred in the hit television series “Greenleaf” on the Oprah Winfrey Network.

The Festival opened with the screening of the Belizean American film: “Inheritance” from American directors Jessica Kaye and Laura E. Davis, which was shot entirely on location in Belize, and featured many Belizean personalities in the supporting cast, and many more Belizeans were employed in the production crew.

The Inheritance” Belizean cast, including Myrna Manzanares, Kayla Arnold and Clinton “Pulu” Lightburn

The Inheritance” Belizean cast, including Myrna Manzanares, Kayla Arnold and Clinton “Pulu” Lightburn

Film festival founder and executive director Suzette Zaydenwelcomed her distinguished guests and also invited “The Inheritance” Belizean cast onstage for the audience to know them. These included Myrna Manzanares of the National Kriol Council, KREM TV host Kayla Arnold, and Belize basketball star Clinton “Pulu” Lightburn. Belize’s film commissioner Nigel Miguel also welcomed the many celebrities to the festival, and hailed the involvement of Belizeans in the cast and production crews, and who each movie shot in Belize serves to present the Jewel beautiful scenery, lush jungles, pristine beaches and seas to foreign producers and directors, as a possible location for other film productions.
“Inheritance” is the story of Laura, who grew up in Belize; but her return home for a reunion with her estranged father is marred by his unexpected death. Her celebration of family reunion turns into a funeral, and she must also confront many ghosts from her past. The movie is not for children, as it features many passionate scenes between Laura and her new boyfriend.

The Inheritance” Belizean cast

The Inheritance” Belizean cast

The festival will also be screening other feature films, including: “Hogan”, a boxing action movie by Belizean director Jah Smith; “Cargo” from the Bahamas – directed by Kareem Mortimer, “Desert” from Mexican director Jonas Cuaron.

“Cuba Libre” from Cuban director Jorge Luis Sanchez tells the story of Cuba’s liberation from Spanish colonialism by United States marines in the Spanish American war of 1898, and the subsequent neo-colonialism which results under American occupation.

Belize City high school students packed the Bliss to capacity Friday afternoon for the screening of Trinidadian director Michael Mooleedhar’s film, “Green Days by the River”, based on the novel of the same name by Michael Anthony. Other films included “Salsipuedes”, from Panamanian director Ricardo Aguilar and Manuel Rodriguez, and “The Sound of Things” from Costa Rica, directed by Ariel Escalante, and the action-thriller about border vigilantes in “Desert”, from Mexican director Jonas Cuaron

Five feature documentaries in the festival include: “Amsterdam: Traces of Sugar” directed by Ida Does, two American films – “Finding Oscar” and “K2 and the Invisible Footmen”, “Life is Waiting”, and “Made in Bangkok” from Mexican director Flavio Florencio. Also to be screened are nine shorts, three short documentaries, and 15 music videos, a category open only to Belizean artists.

Belizean artist “Unlimited, whose music video “about Life” was in the festival, entertained onstage, as did the Kriol music group: “Dih Maroons”.

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