Film festival welcomes audience back to downtown celebration

Fort Myers Film Festival was set to kick off Wednesday and is back to welcoming audience members for its eleventh celebration.

“I am so excited,” Melissa Dehaven said. “I can’t wait.”

The film festival will roll out the red carpet at the Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center downtown, welcoming people back in person after pandemic restrictions didn’t allow for that in 2020.

“It has that big film festival feel, but it’s intimate because it’s in the downtown Fort Myers, area which is a very cool area,” said Eric Raddatz, the festival director and founder. “I think a lot of that is because we are coming out of a pandemic, where we are all sitting on the couch and eating, doing nothing but watching television and not seeing friends.”

The film industry took a hit during the pandemic, but things are changing with fewer restrictions and more vaccinations.

“A little liberating to be able to not have to be not as concerned for these folks that are coming out because safety is our top priority,” Raddatz said. “And we want everyone to party carefully and party safely.”

It also liberating for people such as Cassidy Reyes, a local actress.

“I came from being super locked up and filming self-tapes in my, you know, in my bedroom area,” Reyes said. “So getting out into the public again, it was wonderful.”

Tickets for Fort Myers Film Festival are on sale.

The red carpet for opening night begins at 5:30 p.m. at the art center. The last day of the festival is Sunday.

There will be 60 films shown in five days during the festival.

Reyes calls it a masterpiece.

“It’s definitely important to have people from everywhere and different walks of life coming together and bonding over something like film,” Reyes said.

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Reporter:Nicole Gabe
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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