Ten awards were handed out for independent films at the seventh annual Fort Myers Beach Film Festival at Fish-Tale Marina Sunday.
The evening ceremony, which celebrated the films, filmmakers, actors, directors and all others involved in the festival, culminated five days of activity that began with an opening night party on Wednesday and continued with a ribbon cutting ceremony and viewed movies at Beach Theater, a filmmaking workshop, a movie on the beach and a children's film festival.
"I was very excited that we sold out at least seven films this year," FMB Film Fest chairperson Georgia Reinmuth said. "We were really thrilled with those results. With plenty of people interested in the film industry, it just goes to show that people are finding out about us and we are finally able to pull them in."
“The Gift of the Game” actors Matt Asen and Randy Wayne White, also the director, explain the reason behind the film before viewing. The film picked up People's Choice award from balloted votes.
Taylor Hill, who directed "Love Letter," received The Islander Award. Best Local Film went to "Stuck" directed by Mitch Glass. Best Student Film was "Red Tide" directed by Dino Gallina. "The Last Session" directed by Chad Gurdgiel was chosen Best Short Film. Joe Papp received the winning filmmaker of the Best Documentary for "Five Acts," directed by Tracie Holder and Karen Thorsen. Best Feature Film award went to "Blind Pass," directed by Steve Tatone. Sally Kirkland, who appeared in the film "Posey," captured the Best Actor award. Actress and producer Danielle White took home the Rising Star award for her role in "Blind Pass." Billy DaMota, the director, producer, writer and casting director of "Posey," received the Star Achievement award.
NY Times best-selling author-turned-director Randy Wayne White's "The Gift of the Game" -one of the first viewed movies- captured People's Choice Award from balloted votes.
In viewing room C, actors White and Matt Asen described the idea behind White's film, "The Gift of the Game."
"Back in 2000, Randy decided he wanted to go back to Cuba to restart the Hemingway little league," said Asen. "He called some of his friends, like me, and we ended up spending four or five days, touring the countryside, playing baseball and passing out equipment to the kids in the fields. They were using a bat made out of a tree and a ball made out of asphalt."
"I so much want to thank the Fort Myers Beach Film Festival. We produced the film," added White. "I did the original cut, and we invested a fair amount for what we considered an incredible cause, Cubans. These are people who are not only desperate for food, but are poverty stricken. To give something back to these kids is delightful."
During the awards ceremony, Gallina thanked the audience, saying on behalf of all the filmmakers how well they had been treated.
"This is a model for how film festivals should be run," he said.
Tatone echoed that sentiment when he accepted his award
"Fort Myers Beach Film Festival is not the biggest film festival we've been to, but it is definitely one of the best," he said.
At the ribbon cutting's official start of the FMB Film Festival, Beach Mayor Alan Mandel was proud to be part of the ceremony.
'This is a tremendous turnout in the excitement of the seventh annual film festival," said Beach Mayor Alan Mandel at the ribbon cutting. "This is really great for our town to have these people here to entertain those who are already here."
Reinmuth introduced her film board, including artistic director Elizabeth D'Onofrio, executive director Janeen Paulauskis and volunteer director Laurie Nienhaus as well as publicist Cindy Dobyns, Beach Theater's Nick Campo and attending FMB Friends of the Arts board members Corky Condon, Carla Mandel, Bob Layfield, Al Durrett, Bud Nocera and Jessie Titus.
"I would like to thank all the volunteers for the wonderful job they have done," she said.
During the introduction of the first two films to be viewed on Thursday, D'Onofrio expressed her gratitude for the event.
"We are so excited to be here again for our seventh annual film festival, and we would like to thank the theater for housing us every year," she said.
Visit the website at www.fmbfilmfest.com for more information. Dates for the next year's film festival have been established as April 23-27, 2014.
--FMB Film Fest Publicist Cindy Dobyns of Above Water Public Relations and Marketing, LLC contributed to this report.
FMB Film Fest Filmmaking Awards
- Islander Award - "Love Letter" (Taylor Hill)
- Best Local Film "Stuck" (Mitch Glass)
- Best Student Film "Red Tide" (Dino Gallina)
- Best Short Film "The Last Session" (Chad Gurdgiel)
- Best Documentary "Five Acts" (Joe Papp)
- Best Feature Film "Blind Pass" (Steve Tatone)
- Best Actor Sally Kirkland (Posey)
- Rising Star Danielle White (Beautiful Noise)
- Star Achievement Billy DaMota (Posey)
- People's Choice Award "The Gift of the Game" (Randy Wayne White)