THAT'S A WRAP: Personal Highlights of The Palm Beach International Film Festival

This month I had the pleasure of attending The 21st Palm Beach International Film Festival and experienced nine days and nights of fascinating films, fun events, and discussions with some of the best independent filmmakers. 

Click here to read my complete review of the festival in Beach Magazine, including all the highlights and winners.

The mission of The Palm Beach International Film Festival was originally to support local student filmmakers. Today it is also the showcase for some of the most talented emerging filmmakers in the industry.

As I mentioned in my preview of the festival, 172 films were shown, including 16 World Premieres, at this year's event. It was a challenge to narrow down which films to see and the screenings that fit into my busy schedule, but I like to think that I saw what were surely some of the festival's top films. 

The showing of the documentary film When Elephants Were Young was what initially brought me to this year's festival. The film, written and directed by Patricia Sims and Michael Clark, chronicles the life of one captive Asian elephant in Thailand and her owner as it also sheds light on the centuries long tradition of keeping elephants and their role in the culture of the Thai people. Sims, a long-time advocate for the conservation of elephants and founder of World Elephant Day, is hopeful that her film will help the cause further. And no doubt it will! The film won the festival's award for Best Documentary and opens in theaters on August 12. Look for a complete review of the film on my blog soon! 

Among my personal favorites was the dark comedy Psychoanalysis by writer/director James Raue. In this mockumentary, Raue creates the "most absurd yet tragic" character imaginable in the country's top psychologist whose unorthodox practices come under fire after five of his patients commit suicide in one week. Another emerging filmmaker to watch is Ali Askari. His film Falling had its World Premiere at the festival and was a mix of a romantic comedy and paranormal/drama with a John Hughes inspired ending. 

Read more about Psychoanalysis and Falling here

The Phoenix Incident, a horror submission, written and directed by Keith Arem, is another film worth watching. Based on actual events centered around the unsolved missing persons case of four hikers in Phoenix the night of witnessed alien activity known as the Phoenix Lights, the film contains found footage along with fictionalized interpretations of the events and makes for an exhilarating sci-fi thriller. The Phoenix Incident will be shown in select theaters and is currently available via Video on Demand.

Also, as testament to why film festivals are so amazing, I was completely enthralled by the neo-noir poetry drama, Guys Reading Poems, where filmmaker Hunter Lee Hughes tells the story of a dysfunctional family through the use of poetry. Shot beautifully in black and white, this movie resembled a modern-day silent film, at times using only music and action to create the scene. This was the unexpected surprise of the festival for me! 

Lastly, the screening and after-party of the comedy The Wedding Invitation were clearly top of my list of highlights. Written and directed by Rainy Kerwin, this film centers around three single women subjecting themselves to humiliation and grief as they try to find their "plus one" to the wedding of the year. With a great cast and hilariously funny script, The Wedding Invitation, opening in theaters in 2017, is definitely one to see!

Read my complete review of The Wedding Invitation here.

Of course, aside from the movies, meeting the brilliantly talented filmmakers that create the magic was the biggest highlight of the festival for me. There were so many memorable moments, and I am already looking forward to next year's edition of the festival where I hope to see even more films and attend more parties!

Stay tuned to my blog for weekly movie reviews and don't forget to check out my complete review of The 21st Palm Beach International Film Festival in Beach Magazine at

Read Nik's Piks: After Hours movie reviews here

Check out Family Movie Reviews here


  1. Thanks Nikki all three films have caught my fancy. You must of had a blast and I'm glad you did:)

    1. All very different and worth seeing! Thanks for reading and commenting.

  2. Well written, they all sound like good movies.


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