Thursday, April 19, 2012

Lights! Camera! Action! Stars Align for Fort Myers Beach Film Festival


As the buzz of the season winds down to a close, the buzz about the Fort Myers Beach Film Festival is kicking into high gear. With less than one week before the first film is shown, organizers of the Fort Myers Beach Film Festival learned that yet another World Premiere film will flicker across the screens at Beach Theater next weekend – 'Crackers'. Directed by Gregory Principato, 'Crackers' stars Film Coordinator Elizabeth D'Onofrio's brother, Vincent – who will hopefully make an appearance at this year's festival. The film will screen on the same ticket as a film that Elizabeth has a big role in, 'Slice' – so folks can see both films on Saturday at 9pm.

The Sand Paper also spoke with the director of another World Premiere film, 'The Descending' – Kyle Thompson - who actually lived on our island as a child, and he told us a little bit about how he got into filmmaking.

"My dad still lives in Fort Myers, and my brother was born there,” Kyle said. "When my folks got divorced we moved up north, where I went to a performing arts high school in New Jersey.”

Kyle told us that he originally wanted to be an actor but decided he liked life on the other side of the camera better because his acting was so bad.

"In high school I quickly discovered that I was a really bad actor,” he said, laughing. "Then I made a film that I didn't act in and it came out a lot better, so that got the ball rolling.”

Kyle formed his independent film studio, RED Flight Pictures, early in 2009 with two friends he met in high school – Terrell Gordon and Chad Gurdgiel.

"We do a lot stuff like music videos and short films, and plan to do two features a year,” he said. "The Descending is the 2nd feature film we've produced and our biggest project so far. We started shooting the film in January of 2011 and it was complete in November.”

The FMB Film Festival will be the first time 'The Descending' has been shown to a general audience. Premiering on the first night of the festival (Thurs., April 26th), the 1 hour and 46 minute long film is the story of a police detective who is put through a series of life changing and career altering situations – all told through a series of interrogations.

"The film includes a home invasion, where a family is taken hostage and a negotiator comes in to try and reason with them,” said Kyle, who wrote the screenplay. "I got the idea for it one day when I was sitting in a grocery store, waiting to pay for my bag of chips, and I thought 'wouldn't it be really crazy if this place got robbed right now?' That idea became 'The Descending'.”

The film that stars Vincent D'Onofrio, 'Crackers', is a short film (33 minutes) about Gus, an out of work chef who is content living in his small paradise where he is surrounded by his beautiful wife, vibrant garden and beloved opera music. Gus's life is turned upside down when his cantankerous mother, Bidelia and her precious collection of nutcrackers invades his home. He turns to friends, a blind bookie and a barber for help. Their oddball antics only make matters worse and Gus slowly loses his paradise and his sanity as Bidelia methodically destroys everything that is sacred to him.

Other celebrities who appear in films making their premier at the FMB Film Festival are Brenda Vaccaro and Dan Hedeya in 'Crackers', James Cromwell in 'Memorial Day', Kevin Spacey in 'Inseparable' and Steve Phoenix in 'The Untold Story'. While these celebrities will not be here in person, actress Kimberly McCullough – Dr. Robin Scorpio on General Hospital – will be coming to the Beach Theater on Saturday, April 28th at 11:30am to present a workshop and luncheon where she will speak about how her career as a writer, director and actress has evolved and the process she used to create her last film 'Nice Guys Finish Last' which is showing on Friday at 6pm and Saturday at 7:30pm.

The Fort Myers Beach Film Festival is scheduled for Thursday, April 26th through Sunday, April 29th. Tickets are available online at www.fmbfilmfest.com until Wednesday, then folks can purchase them at the Beach Theater. For a complete list of films and times, see the four-page pullout section in this week's Sand Paper or go to the website for all information related to the festival.

See you at the movies! Keri Hendry

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