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Shirley MacLaine, Christopher Plummer dazzle at Miami Film Festival Opening

Shirley MacLaine, Christopher Plummer on the red carpet at the 31st Annual Miami International Film Festival.
Shirley MacLaine, Christopher Plummer on the red carpet at the 31st Annual Miami International Film Festival.
Charlotte Libov

Shirley MacLaine and Christopher Plummer, two of Hollywood's most fabled stars, strode the red carpet in downtown Miami as the 31st Annual Miami International Film Festival got underway Friday night.

The two Oscar-winning stars, along with their director, Michael Radford, were on hand for the premiere of "Elsa and Fred," the festival's opening night movie. Also in attendance on the red carpet were "Elsa and Fred" actors Jared Gilman and Osvaldo Rios, who was also one of the film's co-producers, along with other producers of the film as well.

But MacLaine and Plummer weren't the only Oscar winners on the Olympia Theater at the Gusman Center for the Performing Arts red carpet that night; joining them were fellow Oscar winners director Jonathan Demme and Anne Hathaway, who he directed in "Rachel Gets Married." They were guests at the premiere.

This was one of the most big name festival opening nights in recent years and an auspicious start for the annual film festival, which features 10 days of movies, including 83 feature films and 28 short films from 38 countries. The festival continues through March 16.

Before the screening, MacLaine, Plummer and Radford joined Jaie Laplante, the film festival's executive director, on stage for a Q&A. Radford, the Oscar-nominated director of the multiple Oscar nominated film "Il Postino," co-wrote the script for "Elsa and Fred," which was adapted from an original 2005 Argentine movie of the same name.

In the movie, Plummer plays a character named Fred Barcroft, a crotchety widower who moves across the hall from MacLaine, who plays Elsa Hayes, an eccentric, imaginative widow who alternatingly charms and exasperates him. The two fall in love, much to the consternation of their families.

Radford told Examiner in an interview that MacLaine already attached to the film project when he came aboard and that he never considered anyone other than Plummer to play opposite her. "There was real charisma and charm between the two of them. They are both handsome movie stars so when they finally have their love affair you absolutely believe it."

In her remarks before the film was shown, MacLaine was at her irrepressible best as she banteringly answered questions about the movie. Asked whether she had fallen in love with New Orleans, which is where most of the movie was shot, she answered, "No, but I've had many love affairs in New Orleans." Regarding the days working on the set, she joked that she and Plummer would have meetings with Radford "that would send Christopher and I out to get drunk every night --that's all I will say about that!" And, as for the performances in the film, MacLaine exclaimed, "Christopher was brilliant. Of course, I was more so, but you can't say that in public!" Then she added, with her trademark impish grin, "We had a most wonderful time playing people who fall in love before they croak."

More info: Miami International Film Festival