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Leslie Vanderpool during a discussion panel in Hope Town. Photo by David de Pas.

Bahamas International Film Festival Comes to Hope Town

The Bahamas International Film Festival (BIFF) held part of their annual event in Hope Town for the first time in the history of the organization and hopes to bring even more to the Festival and Abaco in the future.

Founder & Executive Director Leslie Vanderpool, said that while the Festival has been around for about fifteen years, this year was the first time they held a part of it on Abaco.

She said, however, that it wasn’t just a duplicate of the Festival in Nassau, but added more of a Screenwriter Mentorship element to the event in a similar style as the Songwriter Events on Hope Town.

Ms. Vanderpool said that the Hope Town Festival involved a screen writers residency program in which they seek to nurture screenwriters ultimately helping them “to get their scripts polished and ready to be on the big screen.”

She said the mentors who are a part of BIFF will also assist in the funds and production of some of the films.

She added that “It’s a more structured and intimate program in Hope Town – we only show select films here.”

She said for next year’s Film Festival in Hope Town “We are looking to have readings of scripts, and we will want to get Abaconians involved in being the actors in the scripts that we will have read out loud.”

She said that screenplay writers can submit their screenplays as early as next week and BIFF will start making decision around October of who will be included in the Festival. Films and shorts can also be submitted.

Jib Polhemus, Hollywood producer and manager of writers and directors, as well as member of BIFF’s advisory board, said his company puts up a cash reward at the end of the festival – one lucky screen writer wins a little money.

“We’ve been able to bring wonderful writers to the Bahamas; last year we had Kurt Wimmer, this year we have Suzanne Warren who was an executive producer of Hacksaw Ridge – and Academy Award winning movie.”

“We bring creative artists to help nurture the young screenwriters,” he said. “Each year we help these writers get further and further and we’re quite proud of it.”

Kerry Dye, a screen writer and mentor said – echoing the sentiments of several of the screenwriters – “It’s great to be able to talk with people who are in the industry, and are eager to share that knowledge – they’re doing an amazing thing. I love it”

Mr. Polhemus said that “they love it, they enjoy the environment; love the Bahamas.”

Ms. Vanderpool said that “It’s been great being in hope town, people have embraced the festival, Hope Town Harbour Lodge has really embraced the festival as their own, Hope Town Inn and Marina and Seas Spray were fantastic and accommodating, the Hope Town Coffee House, Hope Town Hideaways and more; we partnered with really great people and we want to do more with the community and have this event be for the community.”

During the six day event BIFF shared several films – “Thought provoking films, movies on or around the water and about the Caribbean seemed to resonate really well with the people here.” They also held discussion panels with seasoned screenwriters and producers sharing with up and coming screenwriters.

Ms. Vanderpool created the Bahamas International Film Festival in 2004. The Bahamas International Film Festival is a non-profit organized film festival that presents a diverse set of films from around the world to the local Bahamian community and international visitors.

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