Film festival’s return puts Fort Myers on cinema map

Running through Sunday, the Fort Myers Film Festival presents 77 films from more than a dozen coun­tries. The films include, from left: “Good Men,” “Kaziah the Goat Woman” and “The Power of Two.”

Running through Sunday, the Fort Myers Film Festival presents 77 films from more than a dozen coun­tries. The films include, from left: “Good Men,” “Kaziah the Goat Woman” and “The Power of Two.”

Fort Myers Film Festival

For more information, film schedule and to purchase tickets, go to


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

Cost: $15

Tickets: 239-278-4422 or

Something else: Following the awards, there will be an afterparty at the Edison Restaurant, 3583 McGregor Blvd., 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.


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:

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