12thAnnual International Beverly Hills Film Festival (BHFF)kicked off yesterday, April 25, at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences (8949 Wilshire Boulevard) in Beverly Hills. Due to the rainy weather the red carpet was inside and media was introduced to many new and some familiar faces of the independent movie scene.
Actors and filmmakers present included: Honorable Barry Brucker (86th Mayor of Beverly Hills); Anne Heche, Anne Archer (2012 Legends Award recipient); Marisol Nichols (ABC's "GCB"); Mardik Martin (Screenwriter, "Mean Streets," "Raging Bull"; 2012 Parajanov-Vartanov Institute Award recipient); Sonia Nassery Cole (director/actress, "The Black Tulip); James Topper (NBC's "Revenge"), Lisa Leslie (former WNBA star; co-owner LA Sparks); Judge Mathis; Karen Black (actress, BHFF official selection "Oowie Wanna"); Isaac Florentine (director, BHFF Official Selection "Sofia"); Dule Hill (Emmy winner, "Psych," "West Wing"); "No ID" (Grammy-winning and Oscar-nominated producer); Frank Stallone (BHFF official selection "Hitting on Destiny"); Nelson Ascencio ("Hunger Games"); Kimiko Gelman ("Hunger Games"); Sam Tan ("Hunger Games"); Ethan Jamieson ("Hunger Games”) , Jessa French, Derrick Housen, Nick Clark, Chelsea Rendon( A Better Life), Sean Pedan( Bad Kitties), Croix Provence, Casino Savo( The Cricket), Faith Blakeney andDavid Bartlett.
BHFF festival founder Nino Simone welcomed the audience humbly and thanked everyone for their support.” I am proud to be able to provide a platform for independent film makers and actors to be able to be showcasing their passions on film. First up opening night was the premiere of Breadwinner Films' feature film, "The Black Tulip," produced and directed by Sonia Nassery Cole. This film is a drama shot entirely on location in Afghanistan. It was the country's official entry for the Foreign Language Film Award for the 83rd Annual Academy Awards. “The Black Tulip” is a touching story about the Mansouri family and their trials and tribulations with the Tliban. After loosing her father to the Soviets and surviving a refuge camp Farishta and Hadar seize a new window of freedom by opening a restaurant called "The Poet's Corner," where once Farishta’s father had opened a bookstore.
The restaurant soon becomes a huge success not only because of the delicious home made food but also because artists and poets are welcome to express themselves freely on a small stage. This newfound hope proves to be fleeting as the Taliban threatens to silence them. Conceding to the Taliban's demands goes wholly against their beliefs and for what they've fought for. When Farishta’s younger sister Belkis is killed with her husband Akram during their long awaited wedding and her daughter Satara is being kidnapped by the Taliban, Hadar decides to close the restaurant and plots his revenge against the Taliban, a decision that will change not only his family’s life but also influence all the people of the neighborhood. Giving up is not an option for this Afghan family.
After a delightful Q&A the audience enjoyed some delicious Mexican food and drinks at the reception.
For five days, the BHFF hosts red carpet premieres, networking events, panel discussions and after-parties, culminating in the annual Closing Awards Ceremony and Gala held at the Four Seasons (300 South Doheny, Beverly Hills), on Sunday, April 29th, when Oscar-nominated actress Anne Archer will be honored with the 5th Annual Legends Award.
For more information please go to www.beverlyhillsfilmfestival.com