Fort Myers is a city rich in culture, but according to Eric Raddatz, founder of the Fort Myers Film Festival (FMff), ten years ago it wasn’t rich enough. He saw a need for more film festivals in southwest Florida. Naples fed the appetite of local filmmakers, but what about the creative artists in the Fort Myers area?
March 8th marked the seventh annual Fort Myers Film Festival. The five-day festival started off at the Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Center with afterparties at Twisted Vine, Blu Sushi, and Firestone Grill. Members arrived in black gala attire, eager to see the talent nurturing right in Fort Myers. Hello SWFL was able to get VR footage of the opening night, so those who were not able to experience it live would still be able to indulge in the cinema magic.
The event provided a way for local artists to submit independent films and have them judged and shown to the community. FMff prides itself in the fact that it closes the gap from creator to big screen. Raddatz stressed that the films shown across the span of five days cannot be seen on platforms like Netflix, YouTube or even in theaters. Therefore it is special in keeping the culture in Fort Myers alive, authentic and diverse.
FMff is known for showing edgy films that start healthy conversations, and opening night was no different. All films shown were unrated and covered a variety of topics. ‘Black Tide,’ was one major highlight film. It encouraged viewers to be more conscious about the water along the coast of southwest Florida while pointing out that corporations and politics all played a part in its possible danger. ‘The Lavender Scare’ presented viewers with the opportunity to discuss the current issues in the LGBTQ+ community.
FMff encourages the community to not only shed light on artists that live right in the neighborhood but to reward them. 2017 marked its 7th year, and Eric Raddatz hopes to keep supplying the community with vibrant Fort Myers culture.