The top ten reasons you need to attend the Fort Myers Film Festival this year

Posted on March 13, 2015

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BY ERIC RADDATZ
eric@fortmyersfilmfestival.com

Sure, this may be the first year you have heard someone mention the Fort Myers Film Festival and not said to yourself—”there’s a film festival here?” It’s ok, you’re not alone.

While thousands have been attending from the very first year, many are coming out for the first time on this, the fifth anniversary of the festival’s founding.

2015leomaposter(1)For those who have been coming for half of a decade, I will say the reputation for playing ‘edgy’ films will continue. Within the 85 films that will play from March 25-29 from over 20 different countries there will be a few that will ruffle feathers. A few will change the world we live in for the better. Most all will explore perspectives you may have never considered before and some will just flat out entertain.

Many want to hear from festival’s director which film they should see. I get asked this often. I’m reluctant to say anything except ‘all of them,’ but I realize not everyone has the whole week off. You must realize, however, that each film will be received and appreciated differently depending on the viewers perspective, point of reference and ability to absorb visual content. Some will resonate across the board to just about everyone. Others will go over some of your heads. Many will affect you so deeply, you will come out a changed person. Some you might not like. But the one you don’t like someone else may love. See what I mean?

But I like our whole lineup this year. And I’m excited about seeing all of these films again, even after already seeing them. This is, I believe, is the true mark of a good film. If you want to see the film again, then it is probably a good film. So you will see me at the Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center, the Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall, the Alliance for the Arts, the Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre AND Regal Cinemas Bell Tower 20 in Fort Myers this year, watching all of these movies. AGAIN.

fmfftomhallphotoNow for those of you who realized I did NOT just recommend any film over the others and want to just press me harder for some advice I will say that I have compiled the TOP TEN reasons to go to the Fort Myers Film Festival this year. Read and then go to the web site, pick out your films, buy tickets and have a strategy.

Some of the screenings overlap this year. There are harder choices—so choose well. When in doubt just do what I did when I first started going to film festivals. Pick a couple screening blocks of short films. There are some slots where you will see nearly 8 short films in one sitting. You really can’t go wrong with any of our 16 short blocks this year. Some have themes. Some don’t. Oh, and make the opening and closing films Most Likely to Succeed and Hardy, they are EXTRA SPECIAL this year and you will be hearing about them in future dates so you will be glad I persuaded you to go to these. They play more than once at Regal Cinemas Bell Tower as well so if you can’t do opening or closing go to one midfest there.

And now the TOP TEN REASONS TO GO TO THE FORT MYERS FILM FESTIVAL:

OPENINGNIGHTfmffbbmanntail1) THE FILMS: So the films playing this year are not in distribution anywhere else. This makes our festival one of the best in the world. We don’t regurgitate films that you can find online, at the regular theaters, Redbox or Netflix. Many say ‘the programming is excellent where can I watch this online.’ I try not to to flinch or strike these people, because I realize I need to educate them. You can’t find them online. It is what a good film festival will offer. Films that are fresh. We have them. You will see many of the films eventual get distribution, though, and you can brag that you saw it here first. Like last year  when we screened Alive Inside at our opening night. Now you can find it online and it hit the big city market about three months after it played here—in Fort Myers. Yeah be sure to watch that one if you missed it last year.

2) THE PEOPLE: One of the nicest things about this week are the people you meet. We have such intelligent and intellectual film lovers who appreciate the art and power of film here. They all come out to this event. Most are really nice people—the kind that you will be friends with for the rest of your life. I know I’ve found most of my ‘family’ during the process of putting on this festival. You also will meet people flying in from all over the world. People with passionate ambition, people who are getting things done, producing wonderful film pieces and people who want to see the world change for the better. Perhaps the best people in the entire world will be at the Fort Myers Film Festival this year. Don’t miss it, even if for this reason alone.

3) FLORIDA IS NICE THIS TIME OF YEAR: I won’t remind you that while the rest of the nation is sitting in freezing messes our festival takes place near some of the most beautiful territory and top-rated beaches in the world. Sit by the pool, take a stroll, get in an early morning swim or dine by the water at night. Go skinny dipping by the light of the moon for all I care. Just enjoy the weather, and realize we’re blessed in this tropical paradise.

Cobainpaoster4) THE INTELLECTUAL SATISFACTION: Ok, if you are an aspiring intellectual, an all-out intellectual or even faux-intellectual you will appreciate that there will be more intellectual stimulation during this film festival than perhaps the entire rest of the year. How can i say that? Because the films tackle so many subjects which turn into very exciting discussions and get your brain moving. You will sleep well every evening if you love intellectual stimulation I promise you. What can you tell me, say, about gender inequality, innovate educational options to our school curriculum, telepathy technology, 911 truthers, food chains, Kurt Cobain’s unreleased music and memoirs, 1920s Florida State College for Women, young love, old love, perfect men, 65 year-old-women, stay at home dads, Ruby McCollum, quantum logic, the healing powers of the ocean, fishing the Everglades, Jesus on swimming trunks, the search for Mary, leaving New York and sex? Which reminds me …

5) SEX: Sex is a good reason to come to the Fort Myers Film Festival. While it is not something we can officially offer, of course, people have known to meet and start meaningful adult relationships during the festival (myself included.) Some have led to marriage. Some have led to sex. Some have led to children. I would be remiss to mentions sex when suggesting that it is a reason to attend this year’s festival. (*This is a good time to note that some of our films include sexual references and since all films are unrated and independent, parents are strongly cautioned. Please read each description before deciding which films you will see if you are one who could possibly take offense.)

6) FOOD: Surrounding the Fort Myers Film Festival are some of the finest restaurants in Florida. You will see many of their ads in our guide. We have official sponsors, you know, but none that I wouldn’t recommend to anyone coming to town. Our sponsors are truly the best restaurants in town. So where should you eat? Open our guide and there are some obvious favorites. If you are downtown near the main theater at the Davis Center I would suggest trying Twisted Vine, Blu Sushi, Firestone’s, Capones, Ford’s Garage, Los Cabos and Bennett’s Fresh Roast. From the finest wines to the best burger, sushi, margarita, doughnut, caprese salad, pizza, flatbread and sirloin you need not look any further than these. Our opening night will be catered by Brian Roland’s Crave Culinaire, the Mermaid Garden Cafe, Aux Delices with Saboram cheseecakes and more. You will get great delight from the food you will taste here. Aside from our sponsors I really have no other restaurants to mention by name, but in-between these five star greats you will find good eats in other places along the way here.

7) LEOMA LOVEGROVE: Sure, you see her all over town, and Bealls nowadays, but she was gracious enough to be the official artist for our poster this year and we have posters you can pick up. Plus she will be at the opening night to offer up her piece she did for us to the Mayor Randy Henderson. Her work is fun and inspiring an so SWFL. Come meet here. She will be the one with the colorful hair and trademark glasses.

CLOSINGNIGHTfmffbwaypalmntail8) THE FUTURE OF OUR CHILDREN: This is an important one. Our children mean everything to us, don’t they? If so, the future of their education and careers are, and should continue to be of utmost importance to us. It is why for the Fort Myers Film Festival’s 5th season we’re opening with the film Most Likely to Succeed. It is my personal objective to help bring a conversation forward about innovative approaches to supplement our current educational system, if in fact, not change it altogether.

We’ve witnessed the public meetings, we’ve seen the news reports, we’ve even seen the Lee County School Board District look to opt out of state standards. This got national attention and we are still hearing about it. It seems as if many forward minded individuals are looking for a better way. Which is good.

Most Likely to Succeed will get the conversation going the right direction. No matter what our political, social or religious status, we can agree on learning new ways to innovate our education at levels where we can actually improve our generations to come is pertinent, relevant and extremely important. This film does that.

The kids that are most likely to succeed, in my opinion, will realize that our educational system, which is second to last or last in the nation depending on who you ask, is outdated and will not get the job done by just attending it. The film bears this out. We need serious change if we want generations following us to be smart enough to have careers, create jobs, innovate technology enough to stay globally competitive. I’ve asked all Lee and Collier administrators, boards, teachers and students to come to this film. I’ve asked many leaders to be my personal guests. I’ve offered discounts to school systems and have passed out a few free passes too. This film is too important to miss, too intelligently done to dismiss and too relevant not to tell everyone you know with a brain to attend. Our children deserve it. If you have a group you feel would like to attend to join me in this mission please reach out to me.

9) THE FUTURE OF THE WORLD: It was one of our founding fathers, Thomas Jefferson, who said “Educate and inform the whole mass of the people… They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty.” It may be a tall task, but when we see the films in our programming this year, we UNDERSTAND things so much better. We can empathize better with the people we interact with in our community. This brings about a tolerance and capacity to help others. It also can get us out of a rut if we think we are the only ones who have things that might be difficult in our lives. Basically the world is a better place after the film festival. That is all.

10) DID I MENTION SEX? Yeah, I did. Get over it.

—Eric Raddatz is the founder and director of the Fort Myers Film Festival. He is often portrayed as a scoundrel, and he is ok with this. For complete times, locations, descriptions and tickets head to www.fortmyersfilmfestival.com

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