Naples' New Indie Film Festival

interview by Andrew Elias

IN THE PAST Southwest Florida has hosted several film festivals, from the long-running and highly acclaimed Marco Island Film Festival to the short-lived Naples Film Festival and Fort Myers Beach Film Festival. Fort Myers has also hosted the Black Maria Film Festival the last two years with screenings at the Edison & Ford Winter Estates and on Sanibel. A group of local film enthusiasts, filmmakers, artists and businesspeople have launched the brand new Naples International Film Festival, scheduled for November 5-8. Screenings of independent films will be held at the Silverspot cinema at Mercato in North Naples with an opening night gala and closing night awards ceremony at The Philharmonic Center for the Arts in Naples.

The Naples International Film Festival is a not-for-profit organization whose mission is to showcase the work of independent filmmakers, to support and provide an outlet for local filmmakers, and to contribute to film education in Collier and Lee County schools.

We asked Executive Director, Eric Raddatz a few questions about the upcoming Film Festival.

Andrew: How did the plans for a Naples International Film festival come about?

ERIC RADDATZ: It had kind of been marinating in my mind ever since I went to the Edinburgh International Film Festival in 07. I had done about everything else when it comes to films from acting to directing to writing to producing. I have written and directed two films, filmed and produced locally: A Day to Love and Die and Barely a Chance.

What is planned for the Film Festival?

Lots of cool indie films. If you love raw independent film you will love this festival. An opening night, Hollywood-style, star-studded, red carpet gala, with music and entertainment, will be held at The Naples Philharmonic on Thursday evening, November 5.

Who has been involved with organizing the Film Festival?

Dan Linehan, myself and Rowan Samuel founded it. We have seven people on our Executive Board, 15 on our advisory board and over 40 volunteers. There are also several subcommittees and numerous community resources working on this.

Raddatz insists, “There’s so much support for film in this community and it’s about time we’re organizing a group that supports and shows local filmmakers work in an internationally recognized environment.”
Rowan Samuel is the Marketing Director, Dan Linehan is the Executive Coordinator, and Ellen Goldberg is the Submissions Manager.

How will the films be selected — and by whom?

We have a submissions committee and have utilized various local celebrity judges and community participants including Jonathan Foerster of the Naples Daily News, Mark S. Krzos of The News-Press, Martin Miron of the Naples Sun Times, aniel Paul Herrera of La Razza Films;, and a few others from the fields of film and televison.

Every single film that is submitted to the festival will have staff watch it. Films will be rated for story, acting, directing, style, and originality. The top scoring films then go to the submissions committee, who will select the final festival line-up.

What kinds of films will be presented at the Festival?

Features, documentaries, shorts..

Other than film screenings, will the Festival offer workshops, lectures, panels, parties?

Yes we are planning programming including all of the above. A schedule will be available at www.naplesfilmfest.com when we have legally secured all of the acts, still underway. We plan a children’s morning where it will all be about the kids.

Will the Film Festival have any outreach into the local community — working with local filmmakers and students?

All filmmakers in town are encouraged to submit their films to naplesfilmfest.com to screen their film in this festival. We really support local film. NIFF aims to support liberal arts in the schools not only with monetary donations but by raising public awareness. NIFF’s goal is to demonstrate how such programs boost student’s creativity and GPA scores. Liberal arts studies have lasting impact on students and the community. We take concerts and art shows for granted, but without liberal arts in schools, there will be no concerts or art shows. •

from the September-October 2009 issue

left to right:
Dan Linehan, Eric Raddatz
and Rowan Samuel, founders of the
Naples International Film Festival.

"There is so much support
for film in this community
and it is about time
we are organizing a group
that supports and shows
local filmmakers' work."

Silverspot luxury cinemas
at Mercato
Mercato Way