The Naples Film Festival offers a bit of everything

For an international from Naples Film festival a year after the start of a pandemic, executive director Shannon Franklin and her Artis — Naples liaison, David Filner, watched the entrances with added impatience.

Here’s what they found:

  • More more more. The festival received more than 900 films, about 13% more than in 2020, and a new record.
  • A mix of pre-pandemic and pandemic cinema.
  • A new fascination for short films.

The pandemic featured in the next festival from October 21 to 24 in a way that is both sharp – a short film is titled “How to fall in love in the event of a pandemic” – and more subtle.

“What I think we noticed was that there were films that had the ability to shoot everything before the pandemic, and they finished those films in the last 18 months,” Franklin said. “So they have the advantage of having been created in a world before the pandemic, and we still see a lot of these stories that have no influence, either creatively and practically, on the way they are shot. . “

Then came COVID-19.

“As far as storytelling goes, there were a lot of scenes about connecting, coming together, thoughtful views about the importance of community and the challenges – and ways to overcome those challenges,” he said. she observed about the works produced in 2020.

“From a purely technical standpoint, a lot of the movies that were shot during the pandemic, you can see they are very thoughtful in their creativity, not just in the storytelling, but in the practical way to shoot things. There are a lot of difficult one-shots around individuals, things shot on Zoom, on the computer, on the phones, probably an influence on the number of people in the room to tell the story. “

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It wasn’t so much of a challenge as people think, she added.

“Independent cinema is already pretty thoughtful anyway, keeping the budget low and doing a lot with few people anyway. So I think independent filmmakers already had that ability to think outside the box.”

“One of the things that when we saw all of these amazing works happen, we realized that there are a lot of people who put a lot of effort and passion into short films,” recalled Filner, who is Executive Vice President, Artistic Operations at Artis — Naples. “There are always great shorts out there, but it looks like as we got into the pandemic there were really a lot of people embracing this medium.

“Part of the reason we were excited, rather than having a big opening film like we did before, celebrating the art of the short film.”

Shorts dominate opening night

The directors of three of the five opening night shorts are scheduled (their films are marked with an asterisk):

“Roy”: This poignant turn of a story describes an aging man whose lonely life has been reduced to calling strangers in the hope of a conversation. He finds a friend, but in the most unlikely places.

The central character of "Roy," an opening night short, makes unsolicited calls to strangers in his loneliness, to no avail - until he accidentally calls a "adult" hotline worker.

Boxbalet (Boxball)“: An animated Russian story, without dialogue but with sound effects and a very contrasting visual message, of the relationship between a ballerina and a boxer. Ballerina Olya and boxer Evgeny both lead personal battles, and they each come to understand each other’s pain.

“Les Grandes Clacques (Like the ones I knew) *”:This French film, which borrowed its English title from the Bing Crosby standard, “White christmas“, depicts the ordeal of a man who has to pick up his children from the home of his ex-beau. Everyone is partying – including his ex-wife and her new husband – and Santa Claus, not father, is in the minds of French children, with English subtitles.

“Miss Alma Thomas: A life in color” *: A documentary on the artist’s life Alma thomas. Alfre Woodard is the voice of Thomas and the film was released in conjunction with a museum retrospective in four cities.

“Photo shoot”* : Directed by Dava Whisenant (“Baths on Broadway“), and shot on an iPhone, is the funny, but unsettling, story of what you deliver to a stranger when you hand him your cell phone to take a picture.

During the festival, seven other short film packages are available under themes such as Growing Pains, Family Affairs, True Stories, Discoveries – which even includes a pirate comedy – and Around the World. This category also includes the Florida Films Showcase and the Student Filmmakers Showcase.

There is a solid help of art films

Because Artis — Naples hosts the festival, there is an affinity for art films. In addition to the opening night artist documentary on “Miss Alma Thomas”, a number of arts-centric films won spots:

“Bernstein Wall” a documentary about one of this country’s most charismatic and sometimes frustrating composers, Leonard Bernstein. He uses his own words, mixed with films and photos, to recreate a legendary life.

“Blue to Beale” takes viewers inside the famous Memphis Blues Competition, a heart-wrenching six-day marathon.

"Saint Fried" tells the incredible story of the largest stained glass window ever ordered and the suffering endured by its designers and builders.

“Saint Frit”, with a title inspired by the mixture of silica and melted fondants to make glass. It may also be inspired by Los Angeles artist Tim Carey’s reaction to the plan to create the largest stained glass window of its kind – without any experience. He needs a savior. This film is one of two that viewers can enjoy outdoors at Artis — Naples Norris Garden on weekends as well as at Money point in Le Mercato, Naples Nord.

“In Balanchine’s class” opens the doors to the workshop of the world-renowned choreographer. It includes never-before-seen archival footage of George Balanchine at work and interviews with dancers who have carried on his legacy, including former Miami City Ballet artistic director Edward Villella.

“The driver” follows Marin Alsop, one of the few female conductors who has become a star in the world of classical music. He does concerts with her all over the planet, observing the technique and craftsmanship that inspires musicians with her.

“Me to play” describes a production of Samuel Beckett’s best-known work, “Endgame”, by two men with Parkinson’s disease that face their own endgame. There is a dramatic connection in the fact that Beckett wrote the play after his own mother died of the disease.

Drama movies kept coming in

There is no shortage of dramatic stories either. Women are heroes in many of them:

“Catch the beautiful”, about a Native American boxer determined to track down the people who sold her sister as part of human trafficking.

"A fire inside" details the horror three Ethiopian women experience and how they cope with it, when they discover that a man who tortured them works in the same hotel as one of them.

“A fire inside”, following the actions of three Ethiopian immigrants who learn that the man who tortured them works in a hotel that one of them cleans.

“Hive,” based on a true story about Kosovo war widows whose determination to lead an independent life with local pepper and honey jam meets hostility.

“Waïkiki,” the story of a tormented life behind the glamor of the professional hula dance professional and how she copes with it.

“Women are losers” depicting the restrictive early ’60s for a young Catholic schoolgirl trying to rise above a bad family life and the one mistake that jeopardizes her future.

There are thrillers, like “The beta test “, in which a reckless Hollywood agent finds himself trapped after an anonymous one-stand; and “Humans,” a pre-Thanksgiving rally has gone weirdly wrong.

Funny revealing movies and out loud too

Just for fun there is “Adjust!” It’s a frantic take on the over-the-top world of competitive table setting.

And for a revealing look at how you can save your future, “$ avvy” details the financial mistakes women make and why they make them.

To shed light on the films, there are two panel discussions on Friday and Saturday morning (October 22 and 23) at Silverspot with longtime Artis — Naples film analyst Elaine Newton (see schedule for both).

Among the films also, a special, out of competition: “Life lessons learned in the military,” Avow Hospice interviews that glean the wisdom of 17 Southwest Florida veterans. This screening is at 3 p.m. in the Daniels Pavilion on Saturday, October 23.

After the awards ceremony on Sunday, October 24, the legacy of 1985 hit Back to the futurebrings the festival to a close on Sunday night with the Naples Philharmonic behind it, recreating the soundtrack live for an experience like no theatrical soundtrack will.

"Back to the future," the 1985 sci-fi hit starring Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd, closes the film festival with live music from the Naples Philharmonic Orchestra.

Harriet Howard Heithaus covers the arts and entertainment for the Naples Daily News / Contact her at 239-213-6091.

Naples International Film Festival

When: Red carpet opening night on October 21, 7 p.m. films at the Silverspot cinema at various times; round tables at 10 a.m. on October 22 and 23 at Silverspot; Norris Garden Films at 7:30 p.m. (doors open at 7 a.m.) October 22-23; closing ceremony and closing evening on October 24 at 5.30 p.m., “Back to the Future” with the soundtrack of the Naples Philharmonic Orchestra at 7.30 p.m.

Or: Norris Garden opening and closing parties and films at Artis — Naples, 5833 Pelican Bay Blvd., Naples. Other films and round tables at the Silverspot cinema, 9118 Strada Place, n ° 8205, Naples

Admission to events: Opening night movies $ 39, movies and party $ 99, movie and VIP party $ 200; closing night award ceremony and film “Back to the Future” with the soundtrack of the Naples Philharmonic Orchestra, $ 79 and up

Cinema entrance: Movies at Silverspot, $ 15 at, discounted four-movie packages, $ 55 at Silverspot box office only; Friday and Saturday night, Norris Garden films $ 60 for a table for four

Admission to the round table: Free, but reservation required at

To buy: For Artis — Naples events only, or 239-597-1900; for Silverspot films, or at its ticket office

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