If you go
Fort Myers Film Festival
For more information, film schedule and to purchase tickets, go to www.fortmyersfilmfestival.com
What: A variety of films including features, documentaries and shorts. Some films will include a discussion with the filmmakers
When: Thursday-Sunday, March 22-25
Where: Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center, 2301 First St., Fort Myers, and Alliance for the Arts, 10091 McGregor Blvd., Fort Myers.
Cost: $5, $15, and $250 for all-access VIP platinum Cineast Pass
■ Awards gala dinner
What: A champagne and dessert awards ceremony hosted by NBC 2’s Chad Oliver.
When: 7 p.m. Sunday, March 25
Where: Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre, 1380 Colonial Blvd., Fort Myers
Tickets: 239-278-4422 or www.broadwaypalm.com
Something else: Following the awards, there will be an afterparty at the Edison Restaurant, 3583 McGregor Blvd., Fort Myers
FORT MYERS — According to Eric Raddatz, film is all about delving into the human psyche. It’s a pursuit he characterizes as a personal obsession, and one he wants to share. That’s why he’s continuing the Fort Myers Film Festival, now in its second year. Running through Sunday, the festival presents 77 films from more than a dozen countries.
According to Raddatz, in the year it’s had to mature, the festival has gained greater name recognition. But locals are the main target audience here, with accessible, thoughtprovoking films — several from local filmmakers — and at a moderate price point. Raddatz, a founder of the Naples International Film Festival as well, is pleased this festival “gives the city something to be excited about” and adds to the character of Fort Myers.
Raddatz said good independent film necessarily changes the way an audience sees things, but everyone brings his or her own private lens.
LOCAL, SHORT AND LATIN
Today is the red-carpet world premiere of “Mambo Man: the Story of Pedro ‘Cuban Pete’ Aguilar’” attheSidney& Berne Davis Arts Center. Aguilar’s trajectory from troubled youth to “the greatest Mambo dancer ever,” as he was called by Life magazine and Tito Puente, should be the stuff of cinema. And it only made sense that his dance partner, Barbara Craddock, should be the executive director.
The two were ultimately inducted into the International Latin Music Hall of Fame, and she is expected to attend. Cocktails, hors d’oeuvres and Latin dancing start at 6 p.m., with the film beginning at 7. A question-andanswer session will follow the film, along with more dancing.
That same venue will present a series of short films at 6 p.m. Friday night. Among them are:
■ “Good Men,” which brings star power in the form of Ed Asner and Mark Rydell. The plot of the 12-minute film features two elderly Jewish men arguing about conspiracy theories surrounding the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks.
■ “The Knife,” produced by first-time filmmaker Karen Whittaker of Fort Myers. Local actors in the film include such familiar faces as Stephanie Davis and Terry Tincher.
At 2 p.m. Saturday, the Lee County Alliance for the Arts presents “Kaziah the Goat Woman” at the Foulds Theatre. It tells the story of a woman who rose above her harsh upbringing in a polygamous sect to become an unlikely American hero. Kaziah Hancock farms goats in a remote Utah valley. She also paints oil portraits of soldiers killed since 9/11 — almost 1,000 so far.
She also created Project Compassion, a foundation that enlists a team of artists to extend her mission. Those artists have completed more than 2,500 paintings, which have been presented to each soldier’s family.
According to Raddatz, when the film was screened over the summer, the audience erupted in a standing ovation — and tears. The life choices Hancock makes despite her past are part of the appeal. Instead of becoming embittered, Raddatz said, “she transfigures into the most compassionate and compelling artist I’ve ever seen a movie on.”
The screening event will be capped off by the unveiling of two of Hancock’s paintings, and the dedication of one to a Cape Coral family and the other to a family from Orlando.
Wrapping up the film selections is “The Power of Two,” chronicling the lives of twin double-lung transplant recipients Anabel Stenzel and Isabel Stenzel Byrnes. The women have become authors and global advocates for organ donation awareness. The film is directed by Academy Award-nominated producer Marc Smolowitz and will run 7:15 p.m. Saturday at the Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center.
For information on all prices and times, go to: www.fortmyersfilmfestival.com.