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Karyn and Allan on the red carpet at IFF

2nd Annual International Film Festival of Panama

By Karyn Saunders in Coronado

There are only a few things that I miss from my life in Toronto.  (It is definitely not the weather, the cost of living, nor the rat race I came from.)  The list includes, of course, my family and friends, wine gums (a Canadian version of a jelly), and the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF).

I am not a star-gazer or a stalker, but there is something about sitting in a movie theatre next to Tim Robbins, watching a movie premier he is starring in.  Or having Danny Glover say, “Excuse me” while he squeezes by you to get to his seat.  I also enjoy watching movies and documentaries from all over the world that I would normally not get the opportunity to see.  For 10 days, Toronto buzzes with the excitement of red carpets and up-and-coming artists, and for 10 days the world comes together in a love of film.

In April of 2012, the creator of TIFF rolled out the red carpet for IFF Panama, and the International Film Festival of Panama came into my reality.

I attended the final gala event last year at the Teatro Nacional in Casco Viejo, which featured a movie with Salma Hayak. I had my picture taken on the red carpet, and we enjoyed food and beverages before the show. It was simply perfect, and it was one step closer to completing my almost perfect life in the tropics.

This year’s 2nd annual IFF Panama was even better.  The festival was again in April and consisted of seven days of films and documentaries from around the world, with a focus on Panamanian filmmakers and artists.  We again attended an evening gala at the Teatro Nacional in Casco Viejo.  The movie was English – Vinglish and was shown with subtitles in English and Spanish.  The producer, director, and a few of the actors were in the theatre enjoying the hysterical film with the rest of the international audience.

Panama, in so many ways, is the center of the universe, and I have recently heard it called “the country where the world meets”.  More and more people will come to know Panama as it maintains its rank in the top 10 destinations to visit and/or relocate to.  I believe IFF Panama will become the Cannes Film Festival of Latin America.  IFF Panama, for me, is just another example of how Panama welcomes all things international.  As a Canadian, this is important to me, and it is part of why I have come to love Panama as my home.

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