Along the Gulfshore


Naples International Film Festival is ready for third year


Michael C. Hall and Lucy Liu in East Fifth Bliss.


Going into year three, the Naples International Film Festival is in a fragile place. It hasn’t been around long enough to be considered established, but enough is expected of it that anything less than amazing will be a disappointment.

But after a casual dinner last night with the festival organizers and the filmmakers whose works they are celebrating this year, I can tell you they are surely not lacking in enthusiasm for the project. Executive director Shannon Franklin’s resolve is such on at least three occasions, a fellow board member came up to make sure she was taking time to eat.

“I kind of get going and sort of forget,” Franklin explained with a sheepish grin.

You can’t blame her for being excited, at least not when you meet people like Marcel Rasquin, the writer and director of Hermano. Rasquin was inspired to write a story about soccer playing brothers in his native Venezuela by two factors—studying film in Australia and the unexpected success of the Venezuelan national soccer team.

He said he never really thought much about his cultural heritage until he was forced to explain it to people in Australia. The act of telling others gave him a much greater understanding of his own experience. And when he returned, a surprisingly successful campaign by the national soccer team, in a country that is mostly baseball crazed, showed him the bonds that the sport could forge among his people.

Rasquin, along with representatives from 16 other films, will be on hand at screenings to talk about their work and answer questions from the audience. The festival kicks off tonight with a screening of East Fifth Bliss at the Philharmonic Center and then moves to the Silverspot Cinemas at Mercato for three more days of independent films.

You can find out more at www.naplesfilmfest.com.