Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Film festival hitting its stride in year two

Naples News, 10.27.10

If the growth of a film festival is any anyway analogous to human development, year two should be a sort of awkward phase. Running is possible, but you are just as likely to fall flat as stay upright.

The organizers of the Naples International Film Festival, however, are hoping to bypass the toddler years altogether. And while they’ll admit to not being a fully formed adult, the folks behind the scenes think they are closer than anyone could have imagined a year ago.

“We’re way ahead of where we were this time last year,” said Executive Director Rowan Samuel in an interview earlier this month.

It’s been a sort of tumultuous year for Samuel and the film festival. Almost immediately after the inaugural festival ended, a battle for control of the festival’s board erupted between Samuel and co-founder and former Executive Director Eric Raddatz.

By January, Raddatz departed, going on to found another film festival in Fort Myers. The departure was met with the standard well-wishes on behalf of both parties, but it wasn’t as smooth as it appeared. Both parties have declined to comment more than to say they wish each other well.

Since taking over as executive director, Samuel has taken a strong role in trying to increase both the local exposure and the revenue of the festival, which earlier this year was granted 501c3 non-profit status by the Internal Revenue Service. The festival has sponsored events around blockbuster movies, such as “Toy Story 3” and “Sex and the City 2.” It started a classic movie series at the Philharmonic Center for the Arts, pairing dinner with big movies from Hollywood’s studio era.

This weekend it will hold a dining event downtown that will close down Fifth Avenue South to traffic and feature an auction of celebrity-autographed martini glasses.

The goals, Samuel says, are to help keep the festival solvent and to increase the money the festival gives to arts education, which is the goal of the organization. He’s proud to say that the festival exited its first year without debt, something pretty uncommon for fledgling festivals. That’s partly because the bulk of the work is done by unpaid volunteers, even in high-level positions.

“I lose money to do this,” says Ellen Goldberg, the festival’s program director, of the time and resources she puts into her work at the festival. There is a hope that in a few years, the festival could raise an annual budget of close to $500,000 which would allow for some paid staff and year-round projects. Goldberg is hoping for an ongoing film series that brings independent movies to Naples year-round.

To make it there, the festival needs to both increase sponsorship dollars and donations and increase the number of people who attend. Although it lacks a film with the hype of “The Cove,” which brought 1,100 people to the Phil last year, the festival should draw more people in with recognizable actors and a celebrity appearance.

Vincent D’Onofrio
, who starred for almost a decade on “Law & Order: Criminal Intent,” is holding a special screening of “Don’t Go in the Woods,” a horror movie he directed.

Overall, the films selected for the festival are more polished, with bigger names that even casual filmgoers can recognize. Former Brat Pack actress Ally Sheedy and comedian Jim Gaffigan are part of the ensemble cast of “Ten Stories Tall.” Oscar winner William Hurt highlights the marquee names in “The River Why.”

Goldberg says there wasn’t a specific emphasis on bringing in films with name brand actors, but that it was benefit of bringing in higher quality films in year two.
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List of films in production.

"In Dubious Battle" [2016]

"In Dubious Battle" [2016]
An activist gets caught up in the labor movement for farm workers in California during the 1930s. Vincent....Al Anderson


A story about the early life of Tennessee Williams

Directed by James Franco
Vincent D'Onofrio, Jacob Loeb

"American Falls" - [TBA]

In a rural town in Southern Idaho, the Suzukis, a Japanese American family, run a small motel. One night they get a strange visitor who sports ‘city’ clothes who turns out to be the first African-American man that Toru Suzuki’s children have ever seen. Yoshiko takes it upon herself to solve the mystery about this man, especially when 2 police officers come knocking on their door.

Short film produced by Erika Hampson.
Vincent D'Onofrio as Detective Foster.

'Purgatory' [TBA]

'Purgatory' [TBA]
Tagline: In the Wild West a lot of blood was spilled... but it didn't go to waste. Vincent....Dallas Stoudenmire

"A Fall From Grace" [TBA]

Detective Michael Tabb knows the city of St. Louis inside and out. He has felt its true heart, as much as its dark underbelly: but he does not know who, in both the dark and light - is taking the lives of young girls.

Director: Jennifer Lynch
Producer/Writer ...Eric Wilkinson

Vincent D'Onofrio ....George Lawson (GRACE's father)
Tim Roth.......Detective Tabb

Filming in St Louis - TBA

"Supreme Ruler" [TBA]

A man campaigns to become the leader of the Buffalo lodge.

Vincent D'Onofrio as Hank Dory
Ron Livingston as Steve
Marcia Gay Harden as Nancy

"The Monster Next Door" [TBA]

"The Monster Next Door" - Comedy Horror

Executive Produced by Dennis Johnson, Melanie Mohlman Produced by Eric Wilkinson, David Michaels
Written by Jim Robbins
Directed by Jennifer Lynch

Cast: Vincent D'Onofrio, Bill Pullman, French Stewart, Bill Moseley

'Down & Dirty Pictures' - [in Production - Filming TBA]

'Down & Dirty Pictures' - [in Production - Filming TBA]
Vincent......Harvey Weinstein

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