Film Festivals are always exciting and full of positive energy. They tend to pull in audience members with a genuine respect for art and freedom of expression. Ft. Myers was no exception, hosting five days of films from around the world. From thirty-second shorts to full-length features, fictional narratives to life changing documentaries, there were many different flavors at the festival and anyone could have a taste.
My short film, Loves Me Not, was an Official Selection and played to a large audience in the prime time Friday night screening. At the initial screening of entrants, it was deemed “too controversial” to play in the festival by a panel of guest judges. Discussion ensued among the rest of the audience who then fought for the film to be admitted, noting that it provoked thoughtful discussion, was well made, and addressed an issue that deserves some attention. Eric Raddatz, the FMff Director, agreed and decided that it should play in the festival. Despite the controversy, Loves Me Not was well received at the screening and garnered several votes for Audience Favorite.
Being a filmmaker at a festival, it is important to see what other filmmakers have to offer, so I tried to fit in as many screenings as I possibly could. I really enjoyed the short film Workers Leaving the Factory, by Anna Linke, but my favorite was Runway, by Tony Ferrieri. As far as feature films go, it was a toss up between French Immersion, by Kevin Tierney, and A Schizophrenic Love Story, by Dylan Thomas Ellis and Glenn D. Levy. The most memorable films at the festival were the documentaries- three of them in particular: The Power of Two, by Marc Smolowitz, Ordinary Joe, by Carlo Gennarelli, and Kaziah the Goat Woman, by Amy Janes. After watching these documentaries a woman at the festival told Eric Raddatz, “I’ve been to three films, and all three were moments that absolutely changed my life— and I’m 67!” That is what filmmaking is all about.
And the award goes to:
- Best Short: Workers Leaving the Factory, by Anna Linke
- Best Documentary: The Power of Two, by Marc Smolowitz
- Best Festure: French Immersion, by Kevin Tierney
- Best Short Short: Crust, by Perry Wilson
- Audience Favorite: Rusted Pyre, by Laurence Cohen
- Best Diverse/Spiritual: Journey to Jamaa, by Michael Landon Jr.
- Best Strictly Local: Dawn, by Tim Ritter
If you have never been to a film festival, I urge you to find one in your area. I also highly recommend all of the films that I mentioned, most of which have trailers on either IMDB or YouTube, are for sale on DVD, or available on Netflix. Thank you to the FMff for an amazing week! I will see you again next year!