Southwest Florida Film Festival Roundup

Read about some of the standout screenings from this year's Fort Myers Film Festival and Naples International Film Festival

Fort Myers Film Festival

Fort Myers Film Festival

Celebrating 10 years in 2020, the Fort Myers Film Festival (Oct. 21-25) featured more than 60 films ranging from international productions to local works of art. The festival, founded by Eric Raddatz, spanned over five days and kicked off with a red carpet opening night at the Sidney and Berne Davis Art Center. The fete closed with an award ceremony to celebrate the winning features. Proceeds from the festival will support local Lee County Schools filmmakers and the Raddatz Foundation. Read about some standouts from the Fort Myers Film Festival below:


Directed by Evan Galeano, Secondborn unpacks a heartbreaking story of homophobia and identity in a rural town setting in a short 17 minutes. The story revolves around brothers Aaron and Sam, the latter of whom has just “come out” to his sibling. Aaron, who has bullied gay classmates in the past, pleads with Sam to keep it a secret due to the harsh outcomes that may follow from narrow-minded classmates and relatives. Once the school discovers his secret, Sam’s father throws him out of the house. As Sam leaves town, he meets a tragic fate at the hands of violent classmates and is found by Aaron, who is left with the looming guilt that he has failed to protect his brother. As the movie closes, it leaves behind several shocking statistics, opening our eyes to how prevalent this discrimination can be.

Mother of Pearl

Directed by Hannah Mitchell, Mother of Pearl relays the all too familiar feeling of guilt we had as children when we did something wrong. The eight-minute film begins with two best friends playing a game of “pearl hunters” along the shore of a lake. One of the girls hides her mother’s precious pearl ring in an oyster shell so the other can hunt for it. Using visual effects like flashbacks and blurring, we feel suspense that something unfortunate may happen as the girls’ behavior becomes increasingly risky. Nearing the end, the young girl imitates her mom, letting out frustrations and the ring flies off into the murky water. This film reminds us of the invincible sense of confidence we felt as a child and the guilt that can overcome us afterwards.


This short animated film directed by Raúl Isidoro Koler depicts the methodical targeting of humans and their happiness by the Anacronte–a large, grey goop-like monster–and the sources of evil, as it shoots down into the crowd of people. Once the monster strikes its victims, they relive the worst parts of their lives, like death, war, or marital issues, before falling into the abyss. The film’s protagonist, despite being struck by the evil creature, overcomes it with strength. The scale shifts, revealing that the apocalyptic world was just a painting in an art gallery, but the museum-goer is enthralled by the painting and sees himself inside the world as the man in focus. The film reveals the different perspectives we see as the scale shifts, showing anything can be overcome.

A previous years’ screening at the Naples International Film Festival, Artis–Naples

Naples International Film Festival

The Naples International Film Festival earned acclaim as one of the 25 best film festivals in 2019 and lived up to that expectation again in 2020. The festival took place both in-person and virtually, allowing spectators to view the screenings from the comfort of their own homes. Featuring films ranging from documentaries to short films to traditional movies, the festival delivered a cinematic experience to all viewers. Read about a standout from the Naples International Film Festival below:

Flower Punk

Diving into Azuma Makoto’s world of floral art, we learn the extensive thought processes that are required for every floral arrangement he creates, finding new appreciation for the craft. The Japanese artist takes flowers to another tier, using his background as a punk musician to fuel his creativity. Each flower is placed with precision to ensure the impeccable aesthetic quality. His team photographs the arrangements in unique ways, like floating in space or 1,000 meters below on the ocean floor. Following the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in Japan, Makoto’s team used their art to bring hope and new life to the devastated environment. The mesmerizing creations shed light on nature as a powerful force in our world and a necessary component in reviving communities in times of disaster, shifting our perspectives on flowers forever.

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