Eric Raddatz has been an active player in the Southwest Florida arts and film community for many years, producing several independent short films and appearing in other larger budget feature motion pictures. He is the founder of the Fort Myers and Naples International Film Festivals, currently serving as the Executive Director of the former. Eric is host of Intellectualization Mondays and curator at the Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center, the Presentation Editor at Florida Weekly and has previously worked at Gulfshore Life and The News-Press winning numerous awards for all three in the realms of design & presentation.

Eric birthed the Naples International Film Festival, serving as Executive Director its inaugural year in 2009, then the Fort Myers Film Festival the following year, also serving as the Executive Director. The festivals featured award-winning international films, including The Cove, which afterwards went on to win an Oscar raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for the cities of Naples and Fort Myers, winning awards like ‘best festival in town,’ unifying the artistic film community and securing both as a must festivals to watch and attend.

The inaugural Naples International Film Festival which took place at the Silverspot Luxury Cinemas in Mercato, the Naples Philharmonic Center for the Arts, the Von Leibig and the Norris Center in November, 2009 unified the Collier artistic community, hungry for independent film. The event was summarized by the Naples Daily News as a “Film festival that brought edge to Naples.” Thousands of people saw a sampling of independent films that otherwise wouldn’t have graced a single screen in Southwest Florida. Nearly 1,100 came for the opening night gala showing of “The Cove” at the Naples Philharmonic Center for the Arts, the second biggest screening the Oscar-winning movie had at the time then had worldwide.

After the first year of starting the festival and serving as Executive Director, Raddatz decided to start another film festival. The Fort Myers Film Festival was established in 2010 to cater to the artistically inclined population living in Lee County. Raddatz was persuaded after many saw what gift Naples was given. The Fort Myers Film Festival was an overwhelming success uniting Lee’s artistic community and taking place at the luxurious Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center, Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall, Alliance for the Arts and Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre in Fort Myers. The intelligent independent filmmaker’s preferred event to showcase the finest local and international cinematic works brought together over two dozen local filmmakers and became known as the festival in town that brought ‘edge,’ local flavor and world class swagger. The both continue to be excellent festivals.

Two film festivals later Raddatz continues his support of indie films with weekly screenings at the Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center, where he serves as curator, hosting TGIM: Intellectualization Mondays.

“It really is just a matter of time now before we get greater projects in towns,” says Raddatz. “[We have] local filmmakers like John Scoular, Lance Julian, and Elam Stolzfus, Pat Mitchell, Tim Ritter, John Biffar and Flip Minott whose independent films have done well in film festivals around the country. Not to mention the quality actors, musicians and technicians who would like to be able to fulfill their greater potential and nurture their artistic side.”

“Combine [the economic incentives] with a keenly focused and highly passionate group of industry professionals available here, completely equipped to handle the largest of projects in the one of the most unappreciated internationally-known tropical backdrops and you have got something that will ignite. I guarantee it.”

“I guarantee you that Rockefeller, Edison, and Carnegie were called dreamers. Renegades even. Probably even strange. But, really, looking back, who really cares what they were called? Nobody.”

Still, isn’t that too much to expect from a town full of retirees and part-time residents? Again, Eric says “no,” and compares it to Hollywood’s ascension in the early decades of the 20th Century.

In 1911, Hollywood was second to New York in motion picture production. But in three short years the city captured the top spot, a place it continues to hold as the largest revenue-grossing film city in the world. In 2009, Hollywood’s box-office brought in a record-setting $10.6 billion, fueled by the growing international market for American films. In fact, audio and visual recording media is the second-fastest growing U.S. export. This means that bringing more of the film industry to Southwest Florida creates jobs that are in an increased demand in a continually more-integrated global market.

Florida has already been home to many movies and shows, Miami Vice, Oceans 11, C.S.I. Miami, The Glades and Burn Notice to name a few. Yet the potential is so much greater than has been realized, especially for our area.

“Now, at last, with cameras in hand, we will have the opportunity to fertilize and invigorate our economy,” says Raddatz. “United we can innovate greater methods to create jobs, to entertain, educate and inspire. So I say—Raise your voices with me now! Viva La Film Revolution.”

Are you ready?

About Eric Raddatz
Eric Raddatz, born in Joliet, Il., wet his feet in the silver screen while working on the set of “Stir of Echoes” as an extra alongside the well known actor Kevin Bacon. After working in movies such as “Rookie of the Year,’ “Just Visiting,” “Stuck on You,” and television shows such as ER he decided to start writing, producing and directing films of his own. “A Day to Love and Die,” his first short scenic conspiracy thriller, premiered in Fort Myers in 2003 and screened at the New York Film and Video Festival. His second film “Barely a Chance,” premiered in Fort Myers in 2008 and screened at the Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival the same year. He shot a documentary on Marcus Jansen and Urban Expression, and is working on Driskell Defense with Alan Kenny Rudolph.

Raddatz, who has had a lifelong love affair with the arts has spent much of his career in visual journalism. “My career has seen so many different outlets and tasted so many flavors in the last two decades, from my early years taking an apprenticeship right out of high school to master the skills necessary to produce a Chicago newspaper to designing online, multimedia, film, music, web, print packages and full cinematic productions, to founding the Naples International Film Festival and Fort Myers Film Festivals and bringing them successful fruition. My passion is the arts. My favorite medium is still film, though.”

Raddatz is a multi award-winning presentation editor for Florida Weekly, the largest circulating newsweekly in Southwest Florida. His film resume boasts working with some greats including Kevin Bacon, Matt Damon, Eva Mendes, the Farrelly brothers, Paris Hilton, Carmen Electra, Tara Reid, and Greg Kinnear to name just a few.

You can mix, mingle, grab a drink & intellectualize with local film host and curator Eric Raddatz during live independent film screenings every Monday night at 7 p.m. at the Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center, where you will get a chance to interact with celebrity judges, local filmmakers, artists, musicians and comedians. Join public discussions after watching short films in consideration for the Fort Myers Film Festival and local student films — then stay for the fun. Special guests, musical acts and interviews will be announced prior to each Monday night. Admission only $5

The 2nd annual Fort Myers Film Festival was held March 21-27, 2012 at the Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center, Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall, Alliance for the Arts, Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre, with an opening night gala for V.I.P. guests from the city with filmmakers and cineasts alike. The Fort Myers Film Festival is an intelligent independent filmmaker’s preferred event to create, unite and showcase the finest artistic cinematic works. The event is a must attend for filmmakers living in Lee, Collier and Charlotte counties.

Eric resides in Lee County, Florida with his two children.

For more information visit www.ericraddatz.com

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