Film Scouts Diaries

1997 Palm Beach Film Festival Diaries
Day 1: Palm Trees and Pelicans

by Liza Bear

Palm Beach, Thursday April 10, 1997

"That's how you know Donald Trump's in town," says the limousine driver as we head east from the airport, "when his plane is on the ground." We're out of luck. The hard-to-miss black jet with a red and gold stripe is not in its hangar. I wonder whether he's one of the Festival's sponsors.

We take the ocean boulevard south through a kind of flattened Beverley Hills of Florida, to the festival headquarters at the Palm Beach Hilton. It's a short drive, but long enough for the driver to clue me in on very important local facts like the distinction between the so-called blue-collar West Palm Beach, and Palm Beach proper, awash in $1million mansions, most of which are occupied only three months of the year.

A long skinny barrier reef only 4 feet above sea level, Palm Beach is in prime evacuation zone if the weather turns really mean. Right now, seriously overcast skies make a mockery of the Sunshine State license plates and a steady south-east wind is churning up the water. March 31 is officially the end of the season and even though the festival, positioned between Berlin and Cannes, plans to bring in visitors to this sizable county in mid-April, it cannot control the weather.

The palette of colors - sand, slate grey of the sky, glass green of the water - is fabulous, and the even light is actually much better for shooting film than blue skies, bald sunshine and harsh shadows. And encouraging people to make films, after all, is what a festival is partly about.

Our destination, the Palm Beach Hilton, is a five-story salmon-colored 40's-style structure that sits right on the beach - "a big favorite of comedians," according to the bellboy. Pairs of evergreen cabanas are studded over the sand; pelicans fly across the darkening clouds. My room looks out onto glassy emerald waves; through the open window, the feverishly swaying branches of a coconut palm are close enough for a handshake.

The opening night reception at the Carefree theater being seven miles away, there's just time to unpack, change and hop on the bus. I seem to be the only non-local writer at the event.

Next Installment

Back to Palm Beach Film Festival Diaries

Look for Search Tips

Copyright 1994-2008 Film Scouts LLC
Created, produced, and published by Film Scouts LLC
Film Scouts® is a registered trademark of Film Scouts LLC
All rights reserved.

Suggestions? Comments? Fill out our Feedback Form.