The eighth annual Fort Myers Beach Film Festival, a celebration of independent filmmaking and the visual arts is under way.
Festivities began with a "Fun in Flip Flops" kick-off sunset cruise from Fish Tale Marina Tuesday night before the festival, as a way to welcome the visiting filmmakers who have submitted more than 100 independent films.
Wednesday was the big opening ceremony, with Fort Myers Beach Mayor Anita Cereceda, as well as officials from the county and the Lee County Visitors Convention Bureau, and a ribbon cutting and introduction to all of the film makers, said Georgia Reinmuth, chairwoman of the Fort Myers Beach Film Festival committee and treasurer of the Fort Myers Beach Friends of the Arts.
The first film screening then began at 3 p.m. at festival headquarters, Beach Theater, 6425 Estero Blvd., Fort Myers Beach.
Opening films were "A Short History of Decay," as well as "Euphoria," with "Pink Gold Rush" playing at 6 p.m.
Now, throughout the festival, movie-goers can screen film festival movies playing in two theaters of Beach Theater, at 3, 6 and 9 p.m. each day, at a cost of $6 per screening, or $6 per batch of short films.
Of the 120 movies submitted to the film festival committee, Reinmuth said about half of them were accepted, including many short films that will be played in a series of five or six at a time.
"I love to have events on the beach to highlight what we have here; it's so unique. Everyone gets that 'a-ha' moment coming over the bridge, and it's a great way to promote the island and what we have to offer to a different type of industry," Reinmuth said. "We've had some films shot on the beach in the past. There's so much that comes from that, and it's great for the economy, because they often hire a lot of local stage hands and crew members."
The traditional family favorite film on the beach will happen at sunset today, April 25, directly behind The Outrigger Beach Resort, 6200 Estero Blvd. This year's film will be the Disney Channel original production of "Teen Beach Movie."
There is no charge to attend that movie, and popcorn will be served to perfectly complement the atmosphere.
"This is the perfect family fun event a free movie for everyone to enjoy, so bring your beach chairs, blankets, watch the sunset and then watch the movie," Reinmuth said.
Those attending the family movie night should park at the BB&C Bank nearby.
Earlier Friday, the festival will present one of two informative and educational workshops and luncheons, entitled, "Self Propelled: An inside look at low budget filmmaking," beginning at 11:30 a.m., taking place inside the Beach Theater.
On Saturday at noon, another luncheon invites film industry professionals for a panel discussion, also held at the theater. Featured guests will include Hollywood producer and writer Stanley Isaacs; actor and singer Johnny Martino (well-known for his role of Paulie Gatto in The Godfather); director and writer Michael Martin; actress, writer and producer Tara Cardinal (currently in the Legend of the Reaper TV?series); SAG/AFTRA representative Ruth Paul; actress and singer Jo Marie Payton (starring as Harriette Winslow in the late-1980s-early-90s hit Family Matters); producer Kevin Sharpley and WGCU Public Media Producer Barbara Lindstrom.
Tickets to the workshop and panel discussion are sold separately at $30 for the Friday workshop and $40 for the discussion among the invited filmmaking guests Saturday, with lunch included during both workshops, provided by Beach Theater.
The annual festival concludes with an awards ceremony Sunday, April 27, at 4 p.m., at Beach Theater.
"Our committee will choose many of the award-winning films during the ceremony, but festival guests also have the opportunity to vote on winners in the People's Choice Award division," Reinmuth said.
Many film distributers and "talent scout" individuals are making special appearances at the annual island festival, and Reinmuth said some films shown before have been picked up and currently in production.
"It's so great watching these talented film-makers grow and mature in their craft," the festival chairwoman stated.
All those planning to attend are encouraged to purchase any or all of their tickets online in advance at FMBFilmFest.com, to see the availability of each movie. VIP?packages are available, as well as individual tickets to each movie guests want to screen. If you happen to be perusing through the area and decide to attend the event, tickets may be purchased at the door, as well.
Sponsors of the annual island event include Beach Theater, the Fort Myers Beach Friends of the Arts, the Town of Fort Myers Beach and the Lee County Visitors Convention Bureau.
For a complete line-up of the movies playing at the Fort Myers Beach Film Festival and their synopses, or to purchase festival passes, visit FMBFilmFest.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.