Along the Gulfshore


Why you should be in Fort Myers on Monday nights


Dan Linehan and Eric Raddatz lead the discussion at Intellectualization Mondays at the Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center.

Now that it’s through its infancy, the Fort Myers Film Festival can really start doing things. While the Naples International Film Festival might garner more headlines, especially for its run of showing Oscar-winning films before they were big, the lesser known FMFF is doing something truly innovative.

Capitalizing on a resurgent downtown arts scene, FMFF founder Eric Raddatz, who happened to found the Naples festival as well, has managed to create something more than an outlet for local filmmakers and cineastes. Through his Intellectualization Mondays program, which features short film in consideration for the festival in addition to live music, booze and performances and speakers, Raddatz has reminded people that an independent arts don’t need a metropolis in which to thrive.

I’ve helped Raddatz out a few times as a “celebrity” guest judge for these little screenings, first in Naples when he ran the show down here and for the last two years in Fort Myers. During that time I’ve seen the concept grow from a small gathering of interested parties taking on a voyeuristic role into a dedicated, almost rabid following of people for whom the arts come alive. The level of discourse on a recent Monday night, even about a film that was unabashedly graphic, was refreshing.

Yes, you are likely to roll your eyes and groan a little bit when someone in the audience starts a sentence with “As a filmmaker, I think about movies in a different way than other people…” Sure, you are going to sit through some undeniably terrible movies (thankfully, they only screen shorts). But there is a pay off that we don’t often find in Southwest Florida—stimulating conversation about art that is in and of the moment, not six months behind the times.

The Fort Myers Film Festival’s Intellectualization Mondays start at 7 p.m. at the Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center each week through the opening of the festival in March. For more information go to www.fortmyersfilmfestival.com.