A beloved island tradition is discovering this year that by incorporating just one more word into its title, it literally makes a whole world of difference! For its 13th edition, the Fort Myers Beach Film Festival is adding “International” to its moniker, to become the FMB International Film Festival, from Wednesday, April 24 through Sunday, April 28! The Fort Myers Beach Friends of the Arts sponsors the annual Film Fest.
“We screened some of the best in local, regional, national and now international films, to bring the most captivating to our 2019 Festival,” said Executive Director Janeen Paulauskis. “To broaden our reach, this year we feature films from Australia, Canada, China, Germany, Italy, Ireland and Serbia. The entire Festival screening schedule is one you will not want to miss!” The Film Fest is at the Beach Theater at 6425 Estero Boulevard, except for the popular “Movie on The Mound” on Saturday evening, April 27.
The FMB International Film Festival begins Wednesday, April 24, with the public invited to the free Opening Ceremony at 2 p.m., following by ticketed screenings from 3 to 9 p.m. Movies continue during the same time frames through Saturday, then Sunday from 3 to 5 p.m., with over 100 domestic and international feature films, documentaries, and shorts that focus on social issues, comedies, relationships and a vast array of additional topics. The Festival concludes Sunday with the Awards Ceremony at the Fish-Tale Waterfront Dining restaurant at 7225 Estero Boulevard at 6 p.m. There are once again two workshops, each costing $35. At 11 a.m.: Friday, April 26, is the “Filmmaker Talk Fest” with various visiting directors and filmmakers; and Saturday, April 27, is “Alyn on Acting” with noted filmmaker Alyn Darnay.
A Film Fest highlight is the free “Movie on The Mound” that is open to the entire community on the grounds of the historic Mound House on Saturday evening, April 27, with the family-friendly Disney hit, “Incredibles 2.” The Mound House is at 451 Connecticut Street, with light refreshments for a nominal fee. Bring blankets and lawn chairs, and dress for appropriate weather, with activities beginning at 7 p.m. and “Incredibles 2” showing at 8 p.m.
While the “Movie on The Mound,” along with the Opening and Closing Ceremonies are free and open to the public, all other screenings are $8-per-session, with weeklong VIP Passes including the Friday workshop at $150 and weekend only ones for Friday through Sunday for $70. Film Festival sponsors include The Beach Theater, The Beaches of Fort Myers and Sanibel, Fish-Tale Marina, the Greater Fort Myers Beach Friends of the Arts, GullWing Beach Resort, and Lovers Key Resort. For the full schedule, information, tickets, or to be a volunteer ticket-taker, go to FMBIFilmFestival.com, Facebook, or call 757-618-3655.
“The Boy Hero!”
One of the premier film studios that is a regular FMB Film Fest contributor is “Red Flight Pictures.” While their production facilities are in Philadelphia, it has a distinct Fort Myers Beach connection in Executive Producer Kyle Thompson!
“Red Flight Pictures first attended the FMB Film Festival around 6 years ago, as we made a feature film and we were looking on-line for a location to show it,” explained Kyle. “We came across the FMB Film Festival, and that hit home literally, because I was born on Fort Myers Beach, on Voorhis Street, though we moved when I was just two years old; my Mom, however, is still determined to move back one day! We lived right down the street from the Fire Station, and as a child I fell and hit my head on a table and bled all over the place, and Mom rushed me to the Fire Station for treatment, and she tells me that story every year I return!”
His studio submitted their feature film and the FMB Film Festival accepted it, Kyle continued, “but unfortunately I had a previous commitment in Los Angeles so I could not personally attend, but our representative raved about it! We submitted and were accepted again the following year, and this time I made the trip and got to know everyone associated with the FMB Friends of the Arts, and soon began to assist them, especially with the Festival workshops and continue to do so. This year, we helped select some of the films, as well as premiering another one of ours and that is huge, so our participation evolved over time and that is a happy experience for me.”
Red Flight’s 2019 premier, “The Boy Hero,” is already generating terrific buzz! “We are very proud of this film,” exclaimed Kyle! “We shot it in Pittsburgh and it deals with the difficult topic of childhood cancer. The FMB Film Fest will be its initial screening, on Saturday, April 27, at 7 p.m., so that audience will be the first-ever group anywhere to see it, and several actors and the production team will host a ‘Question-&-Answer’ session following the movie. Jeffery Benson plays the lead and is a very cool kid! He shaved his head and even his eyebrows for the role, to give himself the perfect look. His character interacts with an older man who is also a cancer patient who feels hopeless and lost, and they form a friendship while undergoing chemotherapy. Because of the topic, Red Flight Pictures is donating a portion of the ticket sales to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital. A few of our other film shorts will be a part of that screening block as well.”
World Class Treatment
When asked why he and so many other filmmakers return every year, Kyle said, “first is the world-class treatment, including the Beach Theater! Second is the sheer beauty of Fort Myers Beach! Third are those who run it, as Janeen Paulauskis and the folks from the FMB Friends of the Arts are an awesome group. Finally, when we go to big cities like New York or Los Angeles, you get lost in the crowd, but on Fort Myers Beach, everyone knows everyone, and that close-knit community is an amazing feeling.”
He is proud of the growth of the Film Fest over the years: “The quality and demographics of the film submissions are over the roof! In the early days, it was local and regional films, then some national ones, and a few international features, and now we have many films from outside the United States, and that shows how the filmmaking community views the reputation of the FMB Film Fest. This includes the number of international filmmakers who will attend this year, as well as increasing attendance, so it just keeps getting better and better!”
Kyle said the FMB Film Fest offers many unique aspects. “The Opening and Closing Ceremonies are free and open to the public, the committee hosts several special events for the filmmakers, the workshops are terrific, and especially the family-driven ‘Movie on The Mound’ is totally different from any other film festival, as the organizers involve local children and every age of film fan, as no one else does that! We receive fantastic support from all the local businesses, as that is what a community event is all about. I encourage everyone to attend the Fort Myers Beach International Film Festival as it will be great!”
By Gary Mooney