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Culture Watch


I’m not much for television, but I love movies. That’s why I was excited when an honest-to-goodness film festival came to Naples in November 2009. Well, that festival succeeded beyond expectations. It’s November again and time for the Naples International Film Festival (NIFF) encore.

And what an encore it looks to be: nine documentaries, nine feature films and two short film compilation packages, including both live action and animation (www.naplesfilmfest.com). As happened last year, opening night will be at the Phil, with screenings at Silverspot Cinema. There will also be a mini-fest for kids, featuring the best of the New York International Children’s Film Festival, shown at the Norris Community Center.

Last year, great excitement centered on the opening night showing of The Cove. The film went on to win the Oscar for Best Documentary. This year, the opening night gala features Thespians, a documentary following four theater troupes through the largest high school drama competition in the world. But the highlight of the
festival may just come on the last night, when the New Mastersounds, a jazz/funk band featured in this year’s documentary Coals to Newcastle, arrives in Naples to
play at the closing night party.

In between will be films detailing personal quests (including that of living forever), uncovering hidden art gems, and looking at love and philosophies.

One of the best things about NIFF, which achieved not-for-profit status this year, is that it’s not content with a simple week of showing films. Throughout the year, the organization has remained a presence and a resource, getting involved in community events and hosting such happenings as a Sex and the City 2 party and movie/dinner nights during the off-season with its festival partner, the Phil. Those events will continue through the coming year and include monthly outdoor movies in Cambier Park.

And NIFF’s success has prompted the spread of affairs to warm any film-lover’s heart. Eric Raddatz, who founded NIFF along with Dan Linehan and Rowan Samuel, has moved on to Fort Myers, where he’s planning a film festival at the Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center, March 24–27 (www.fortmyersfilmfestival.com). Sanibel’s BIG Arts Film Society is hosting a Filmmakers Showcase beginning March 16 and also co-hosting the 30th annual Thomas Edison Black Maria Film Festival with the Edison & Ford Winter Estates in March (www.bigarts.org). And film series continue at FGCU’s Renaissance Academy (www.fgcu.edu/racademy), Collier County Public Library (www.collier-lib.org) and The Naples Players (www.naplesplayers.org), with a new series this year at the Alliance for the Arts in Fort Myers (www.artinlee.org). 

Hooray for Hollywood—Southwest Florida-style!


NIFF, Nov. 4–7

Documentaries: Thespians, Coals to Newcastle, Warrior Champions, My Run, How to Live Forever, Greenlit, The Parking Lot Movie, The Desert of Forbidden Art, Surviving Hitler: A Love Story
Feature films: Chameleon, The New Year, Drawing with Chalk, The River Why, Hello Lonesome, Earthwork, Bedrooms, Cupcake, Ten Stories Tall 

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