Film Festival beckons moviegoers to the beach

Film Festival beckons moviegoers to the beach

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For the past 20 years, the Rehoboth Beach Independent Film Festival has turned the coastal area into Aspen or Soho or Cannes (OK, not quite) for a showing of dozens of independent films across days of screenings.

Moviegoers from all over the East Coast and beyond will gather by the shore to celebrate independent film this year from Nov. 1-11. The 21st Rehoboth Beach Independent Film Festival will present dozens of American and international features, documentaries and shorts. This is the oldest and largest event of its kind in the state of Delaware — rivaling big-city festivals — with the added benefit of the area’s culinary gems and nightlife.

Screenings will take place at three convenient venues: the Rehoboth Beach Film Society’s Cinema Art Theater on Route One, the large Cape Henlopen High School Theater in Lewes and the comfortable sanctuary at the Unitarian Universalists of Southern Delaware on Route 9.

Rehoboth Beach Film Society executive director Sue Early said three “very good LGBTQ films” are programmed into this year’s festival.

They include “1985,” a film about a closeted young man returning to his Texas hometown for Christmas during the first wave of the AIDS crisis; “Mapplethorpe,” an intimate portrait of the celebrated-yet-controversial photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, played by Matt Smith; and “The Lavender Scare,” documenting the unrelenting campaign by the federal government in the 1950s to identify and fire all employees suspected of being homosexual. The film highlights Harvard-trained astronomer Frank Kameny, who became the first to fight his dismissal.

On Nov. 11, six time slots are kept open for encore screenings of the films given the highest ratings by audiences. The encore films are announced at 3 p.m. the day before on the RBFS website. Tickets will available for online purchase at the same time.

In addition to the LGBTQ films, there is a marvelous selection of quirky, fascinating movies. “Bathtubs Over Broadway” explores the world of corporate musicals, where some extraordinary Broadway-style shows are born. The documentary features David Letterman, Martin Short, Chita Rivera, Susan Stroman, Jello Biafra, Florence Henderson and more.

Opera lovers and fans of Julianne Moore are in for a treat with the film “Bel Canto,” based on Ann Patchett’s bestseller about a world-renowned opera singer taken hostage in South America. Not only is it a taut thriller, but Moore’s vocal turns are voiced by the incomparable Renee Fleming.

There are also films of family dysfunction (“The Parting Glass”) and humor with an elderly man inheriting millions (“On Borrowed Time”).

This coastal-area tradition gets bigger and better every year, and now’s the time to catch Film Fest fever. Warning: You’ll get hooked on seeing as many screenings as you can fit into your time at the beach. 

Ticket information is available at

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