Florida Keys News - Islamorada/KL Free Press
Wednesday, May 8, 2013
Organizers deem Bogart film festival a success

KEY LARGO -- Daytime thunderstorms couldn't damper the first-ever Humphrey Bogart Film Festival that took place over the weekend.

The festival is expected to be a mainstay for the Upper Keys island.

Among the events were multiple movie showings, panel discussions, a ball and a brunch.

According to historical accounts, after the filming of the 1948 film, "Key Largo," residents north of Tavernier decided to change the name of their community from Rock Harbor to Key Largo. Before the movie, Key Largo was the name of the island but it was not used by the U.S Postal Service.

"We've got to do something different next year," Stephen Bogart said. "We can't give Jack Huston another award."

Bogart is the son of the iconic movie star who died of cancer in 1957 and actress Lauren Bacall. Huston is the grandson of the late film director John Huston, who collaborated with Humphrey Bogart on several films, including "Key Largo."

According to Stephen Bogart, his father never visited Key Largo, but film production personnel did come down.

Organizers may re-approach the Monroe County Tourism Development Council in an attempt to move the festival earlier in the year. The TDC offers more funding to multi-day events outside of peak season.

The festival was presented by the Key Largo Chamber of Commerce and the Humphrey Bogart Estate.

Leonard Maltin, a nationally-renowned film critic who spoke at the festival, compared the week's passing storms to the movie "Key Largo." In the film, Bogart's character visits an old friend's hotel to find it being run by a group of gangsters holed up there waiting for a hurricane to pass.

At the festival, Maltin said he spoke to people from 30 different states as well as a couple from Australia. After a brief vacation in Key West, Maltin will travel to Austin to finish his annual book of criticism.

"I'll definitely come back next year if they invite me," Maltin said.

Despite coinciding with the Kentucky Derby, a soldout Casablanca-themed ball took place on Saturday night at the Hilton Key Largo Resort where HBO's "Boardwalk Empire" star Jack Huston mingled with Maltin and Bogart.

Maltin said Huston didn't ask for any acting advice during their meeting,

"He doesn't need my critique," Maltin joked.

To the tunes of Dean Martin, dozens of Bogart fans Sunday ate brunch at the Marriot as Stephen Bogart stopped by each table to chat.

In a toast to close out the festival, Bogart called the event a success.

Russ Yagel, one of the event's organizers, was happy that the inuagural event drew 4,500 people.

"It was a lot of fun and went really well," he said.

jgore@keysnews.com

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