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The Belize International Film Festival (BelizeIFF) is a unique culture-centric festival headquartered in Belize City that focuses on independent films with storylines celebrating cultural diversity, topical social issues and stories of resistance. It is recognized internationally for its' strong, diverse film program and informational industry presentations and workshops as well as increasing celebrity and international media presence. Some select films are also taken around the country for community screenings. Monday has been set aside for ENCORE presentations.

November 8 - November 13
Bliss Center for Performing Arts
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International Film Festival is Here

The countdown to the Belize International Film Festival is on. The much-acclaimed festival begins next Wednesday with a preview event at the House of Culture in Belize City. While the official opening ceremony is set for Thursday at the Bliss Center for the Performing Arts and will be carried live on this station, this year, organizers have added new elements and a wider repertoire of films. A panel of four judges, one of whom is a familiar face on OWN TV, will assess twenty-eight films and fifteen music videos. �According to ICA's Suzette Zayden, the films cover messages about topical issues.

Suzette Zayden, Director, Film & Media Arts Unit, ICA

"We are screening a film from Costa Rica called the 'Sound of Things' followed by panel discussion on suicide ' The Ones Who are Left Behind'� that is being hosted by the mental health association and the embassy of Costa Rica. It is part of our social impact films that we have at the festival. In fact, this year we have a lot of important films. We are taking our title as a festival that is topical and tropical very seriously and so we were looking for films that had something to say. Special guest judge/jury this year is Miss Lynn Whitfield. She plays Lady Mae Greenleaf on the series Green Leaf; Oprah Winfrey's TV series. She is very excited to come and we were able to get her because one of our Belizean costume designers work on that set with Ms Whitfield. And she came earlier this year and said I am ready to contribute so she went out and decided she will help make this festival just as great. So, name is Ms Deborah Fairweather and she will be here with Ms Lynn and one of the producers from Greenleaf - in fact all three of them all worked on a NETFLIX film that just wrapped called Nappily Ever After which just wrapped."

Channel 5

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BIFF, 15 Years Later

The 2017 edition of the Belize International Film Festival will begin next week Wednesday Night.

It's the festival's 15th year, and the festival is entering a stage of maturity where it assists in the growth of the film industry in Belize, and gives local film makers a platform to showcase their work.

The Founder and Director, Suzette Zayden, says that for this year's festival, there are 29 films from eighteen 18 countries that have been selected to be featured. This evening, she stopped by to tell us more about the 5-days of activities:

The film festival opens on Wednesday, November 8th, at 5:30 p.m. with a preview. It ends on Sunday, November 12, with a closing awards and concert.

Channel 7

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Wrapping Up Successful Film Festival

There were seven winners at the just concluded Belize International Film Festival, including three Belizeans. At the closing of the successful twelfth edition, Belizeans won in Best Short Film, Most Notable Belizean Film and Best Music Video. Meanwhile, a Mexican national snagged Best Feature Documentary and a Costa Rican director took home Vest Feature Narrative. News Five's Duane Moody reports that Andy Palacio was also honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award for Music in Film.

Duane Moody, Reporting

The twelfth edition of the Belize International Film Festival concluded on Sunday night with an award ceremony at the Bliss Center for the Performing Arts. The highly anticipated event commenced with presentations from various artists, after which the winners of the festival were announced. Producers, actors, artists and directors of the respective films, documentaries and music videos waited patiently for their categories and the nail-biting announcement of the winners.

Of the three submissions made, the best short documentary title went to The Wood Thrush Connection, directed by Dayna Reggero. It was an unexpected win for Reggero who was in tears when she accepted the award.

Dayna Reggero, Director, The Wood Thrush Connection

"I am so surprised and I just thank you all so much. I wanna thank the judges and Belize; the people who work on the film; the people from the Belize Audubon Society who care so much about this bird and the people who made this film. I wanna thank Debora and Lynn and everybody who's been so welcoming, everybody that is working together around the world for these little connections that we don't realize how we are all so connected and it can sometimes take something so small to have people working together for solutions."

Meanwhile, the most notable environmental film went to Whale Shark - cruise ship and Mother Nature collide in southern Belize directed by Sean Sullivan, a first-time filmmaker. Suzette Zayden, the Director of Film and Media Arts Unit at the Institute of Creative Arts received the award and shared a statement on his behalf.

Suzette Zayden, Director, Film & Media Arts Unit, ICA

"This is my first film. The truth is I never envisioned myself a filmmaker but when I saw what was happening in southern Belize and Placencia; in particular, I was driven to act by friendships that I had forged on the water in what is one of the world's last examples of a pristine paradise. The most I can ask from this film is that it creates awareness."

Made in Bangkok directed by Flavio Florencio and the Sound of Things/El Sonido de las Cosas directed by Ariel Escalante wound go on to win Best Feature Documentary and Best Feature Narrative respectively.

Best Short Film and Most Notable Belizean Film were captured by Xavier Neal Burgin with On Time.

Lynn Whitfield, Judge, Belize International Film Festival

"It's so emotional. And in eight minute and fifty-six seconds, you go from seeing a mother and her young daughter living in a car to her decision to going for a job interview and leave her child in the car so that she can earn money to be able to take care of her. And I won’t tell you how it all ends up, but it grabs your heart, jumps into your soul and you feel every moment of it. It is a wonderful film and I congratulate Xavier Neal Burgin."

Fifteen Belizean music videos competed in the Best Music Video category. And in the end, Big Bang's Classy, directed by Jahmai Trapp came out on top.

Big Bang, Artist

"I'm thankful for that alone; that a legend give me this award. I'd like to thank everybody that supports me. I'd like to thank God for guiding me and everybody that was a part of the project. Music is also music in the business and you have to invest in yourself and you have to do the work. I'd like to thank everybody at Ignite that's my directing company and my buddy Jahmai."

Meanwhile, the 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award for Music in Film was given to Belizean musical icon Andy Palacio.

Kamau Palacio, Son of Andy Palacio

"On behalf of my sisters, we would like to say thank you. This is an honor to receive this award on behalf of my father."

Channel 5

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