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Fort Myers Beach International Film Festival begins today

By Staff | Apr 24, 2019

A popular event broadened its audience for the 13th annual festival to include Germany, Italy, Canada, Serbia, China, Australia and Ireland, which transformed its name to the Fort Myers Beach International Film Festival.

“We have screened some of the best in local, regional, national and international films to bring the most captivating films to our 2019 festival, April 24 – 28,” Executive Director Janeen Paulauskis said in a prepared statement.

The independent filmmaking festival will begin today (Wednesday) at 2 p.m., with an opening ceremony at the Beach Theater, 6425 Estero Blvd, followed by a full day screening at the theater.

More than 110 feature films, documentaries and shorts by domestic and international filmmakers, which portray hope, social issues, comedy and relationships, will be shown through Sunday, April 28.

Tickets are $8 per screening, and $35 each for the Friday “Filmmaker Talk Fest” and Saturday “Alyn on Acting” workshops, both starting at 11 a.m. There also is a $150 VIP pass, which includes attending all screenings and the workshops.

Red Flight Pictures Executive Producer and the festival’s Programming Director Kyle Thompson said he has gone to film festivals and has been a judge, but he has never really critiqued or picked films. He said one of the hardest things of being a program manager for his first year was the timing part of it all.

There were so many great films, Thompson said, but they could not be selected because they were too long, or could not fit into the program. Films that did not exceed two hours were considered.

“It’s hard to really pinpoint a good film and bad film. We had over 300 submissions worldwide,” Thompson said. “All the films are amazing. As a movie lover and someone who makes films, it is so great to see the films from all over the world. We have films and filmmakers that are coming from Iceland and Germany. It is great to see perspectives from all over the world.”

He said there are a lot of cool stories, and how people tell their stories is really fascinating for him.

A highlight of the festival will take place at 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 26, for the screening of “Blind Vision,” by Italian documentarian, director and actress Annalaura di Luggo. She worked with 20 individuals who are blind to explore their inner universe through using her custom-built camera. di Luggo photographed their clouded, scarred and dysfunctional eyes and then recorded and filmed encounters and interviews with her subjects.

Another highlight is the premier of Red Flight Pictures “Boy Hero” at 7 p.m. on Saturday, April 27. A percentage of the ticket sales will go towards St. Jude’s Children Research Hospital.

The movie, Thompson explained shares the story of an 8-year-old child and an older gentleman in his 70s. They are both going through chemotherapy. Their bond begins over an art project when the lonely old man, who prefers to be left in peace, is interrupted by an 8-year-old child.

“Boy Hero” is helping to raise awareness for childhood cancer, which Thompson said is kind of what they have been doing for the last few months.

“I started documenting it on Instagram in January of last year,” he said of “Boy Hero.” “We were writing it while down in Florida last year for the festival. We ended up all summer long in preproduction and casting.”

The child actor from upstate Pennsylvania, Thompson said was great and he ended up shaving his head to be in the character.

“We ended up filming in November in this old unused hospital outside of Pittsburgh. We filmed for about four days. We have been editing it ever since. We are in the process of fine tuning it,” he said Monday, April 15.

The “Filmmaker Talk Fest” panel workshop will be held Friday, April 26, and “Alyn on Acting” will be held Saturday, April 27. The visiting directors and filmmakers are spearheading the workshops.

Another festival favorite, “Film on the Mound,” which features “Incredibles 2” this year will take place Saturday, April 27. The screening will take place at the Mound House, 451 Connecticut St. It is free and open to the public.

The awards ceremony of the Fort Myers Beach International Film Festival will take place at 7 p.m. Sunday, April 28, at Fish-Tale Waterfront Dining, 7225 Estero Blvd.

Thompson said although this is his first year as the programming manager, they have attended as film makers for six, or seven years.

“I used to have family on Fort Myers Beach and lived there for some time as a baby. We were in Los Angeles and we had a film that we were trying to showcase around. We found this festival called the Fort Myers Beach Film Festival,” he said of his team that is based out of Philadelphia. “We ended up getting into the film festival, but that first year I couldn’t make it. We sent one of our interns down and he came back and talked about how amazing the festival was and the great things he learned.”

The following year they submitted another film and were invited back to the festival.

“It was an awesome experience. They keep inviting us back,” Thompson said.

As a young child he wanted to become an actor, but later found out that he was not very good at acting. Thompson’s earliest memory was seeing “Jurassic Park” in the movie theater, which sparked his interest of how to make movies.

“My mom one year got a video camera for Christmas,” Thompson said, which turned into him making his own movies. “I ended up stepping behind the camera just before high school and really fell in love with being behind the scenes.”

After high school, 10 years ago, he said “we started this company. We make films.”

Red Flight Pictures has found its niche to be short narrative films.

“We found a really good middle ground,” Thompson said. “We probably have done 15 to 20.”

Visit www.FMBIFilmFest.com, or call (757) 618-3655 for more information.