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Actors, artists, filmmakers and events in the news May 1-7, 2021

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Grouped under headings that include art openings, film, outdoor art fairs and festivals and theater are advances, announcements and articles about the actors, artists, filmmakers and events making news in Southwest Florida this week:

 

1      FORT MYERS FILM FESTIVAL

 

The 11th Annual Fort Myers Film Festival opens May 12 with red carpet gala

The 11th annual Fort Myers Film Festival to be held in person and online May 12-16, 2021 (with other venues, restaurants and private parties to be announced). It all starts with a red carpet gala at the Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center on May 12, with doors opening at 5:00 for drinks, mingling and musical entertainment. The opening is always heavily attended by local and international filmmakers and the actors who bring their vision to life. Tickets are $15 for movie only or $100 for movie and VIP meet and greet. Guests will enjoy fully-stocked bar and a chance to meet with the stars of the evening’s film, other filmmakers and event VIPs. The event will provide the delicious foods and beverages. Watch last year’s video here https://vimeo.com/336103431. To buy tickets go to www.sbdac.com. If you are looking for photos head to www.facebook.com/fortmyersfilmfestival.

Go here for the rest of this advance.

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This year’s Fort Myers Film Festival features 60 films in 7 categories

The Fort Myers Film Festival opens on Wednesday, May 12 with a red carpet gala and the Caytha Jentis comedy Pooling to Paradise. Over the ensuing four days, it will screen 60 fresh international and independent films, with some throwback Florida films featuring cult classics and local filmmakers. The festival closes with the U.S. premier of the lost 1948 film Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today, a documentary that chronicles how that film was recovered and restored, and an awards ceremony in the grand atrium of the Sidney and Berne Davis Art Center beginning at 6:00 p.m. on Sunday, May 16.

The rest of this announcement is here.

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A FMFF venue, Lab Theater will screen three films on festival’s final day

The 11th Annual Fort Myers Film Festival returns to the downtown Fort Myers River District May 12-16. While most of the films will screen in the grand atrium of the historic Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center, FMFF will show select films at the Alliance for the Arts, Edison Ford Winter Estates, IMAG History & Science Center and the Laboratory Theater of Florida.

Located at 1634 Woodford Ave, the Laboratory Theater of Florida offers fresh, edgy, award-winning theater, as well as theatrical opportunities and education to playwrights & actors of all ages. It will screen three films on the final day of the film festival, which is Sunday, May 16.

You will find the rest of this announcement here.

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Edison Ford Winter Estates to screen four films during 2021 FMFF

At sunset (8:00ish) on Friday, May 14, the Edison and Ford Winter Estates will host the Fort Myers Film Festival, screening four films on the lawn of the Henry Ford Estate. Seated outdoors along the picturesque Caloosahatchee River, guests will watch movies under the stars. The films will include an Edison silent picture, a production about the late Sam Galloway, and two documentaries, Stay Wild and A Greenlander.

The site is one of several locations hosting the Film Festival occurring May 12-16.

The event is fitting since Thomas Edison invented the motion picture camera. His first films were silent, but nonetheless groundbreaking, for the time.

Go here for the balance of this announcement.

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11th Annual Fort Myers Film Festival to open with indie comedy ‘Pooling to Paradise’

Caytha Jentis’ indie comedy Pooling to Paradise will open the 11th Annual Fort Myers Film Festival on Wednesday, May 12. Directed by Roxy Shih, the 80-minute feature stars Taryn Manning (Orange Is the New Black, Hustle & Flow), Jonathan Lipnicki (The Resident, Jerry Maguire), Dreama Walker (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Gran Torino), Lynn Chen (Saving Face, Go Back To China) and comedian Jordan Carlos (Broad City, Guy Code, Girl Code).

The film follows four millennial strangers who find themselves at a crossroads in their lives. Jenny (Lynn Chen), a mom living in Los Angeles with her husband and three kids, is filled with Mommy Angst. She is off to a blogger conference in Vegas to jumpstart her life-after-kids career. Calling a ride-share to the airport, she accidentally chooses “pool’ and soon finds herself in a car full of strangers that includes Kara (Dreama Walker), a struggling actress feminist; Sean (Jonathan Lipnicki), a tightly wound, heartbroken talent agent; and, Marc (Jordan Carlos), their driver, a hipster anarchist shaman.

Go here for the rest of this advance.

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Spotlight on ‘Pooling to Paradise’ screenwriter Caytha Jentis

Caytha Jentis’ indie comedy Pooling to Paradise will open the 11th Annual Fort Myers Film Festival on Wednesday, May 12. Caytha got the idea for the storyline and the characters in a most unusual way. In Los Angeles visiting a girlfriend, the two made plans to meet a mutual guy friend at a casual Italian restaurant. En route, they struck up a conversation with their “young, cute, hipster” Lyft driver and asked him to join them for dinner.

“The dinner conversation flowed,” Caytha recounts. “Over his second slice, our driver with a boyish Cheshire cat smile announced: ‘My friend found love in Paradise!’  He had our attention. We were intrigued – of course. He shared the story of his buddy, who had stupidly cheated on his girlfriend. Unable to forgive, she broke up with him and moved back home to Paradise, Nevada. Full of regrets, his friend quit his job in L.A. and moved to Paradise to win her back. Now, a year later, they were getting married. As a hopeful romantic, I was taken by this bittersweet love story, but as a pragmatic (cheerful) nihilist, our driver was unsure if it was actually a good thing.  [But] hat night and the Paradise story morphed into this road movie.”

The rest of this profile is here.

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Spotlight on ‘Pooling to Paradise’ actor Jonathan Lipnicki

Pooling to Paradise follows four millennial strangers who find themselves in a pooled ride share on their way to Paradise, Nevada. Jonathan Lipnicki plays the part of Sean, a tightly wound, heartbroken talent agent. When we first meet Sean, he’s not just distraught. He’s packing a gun.

At the age of five, Lipnicki received global acclaim as he won the hearts of Tom Cruise and Renee Zellweger in the Academy Award-winning film Jerry Maguire. After this breakout role, Jonathan became a widely-recognizable celebrity. His early works included starring roles in the films Stuart Little (Michael J. Fox, Geena Davis, Hugh Laurie, Nathan Lane), Stuart Little 2, the comedy-fantasy Like Mike (Lil’ Bow Wow, Jesse Plemons, Marie Chestnut), and the Little Vampire (Richard E. Grant); as well as series-regular roles on The Jeff Foxworthy Show (as Foxworthy’s youngest child) and Meego. Before the time Jonathan was ten his films had grossed nearly three-quarters of a billion dollars at the box office.

Jonathan’s full profile is here.

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Spotlight on ‘Pooling to Paradise’ actor Lynn Chen

Award winning, multi-talented actor Lynn Chen has enjoyed a career spanning more than three decades. She made her debut on the stage of the Metropolitan Opera House at the age of five. Since then, she has either starred or appeared in over 60 films, television series, TV movies and video games, and she plays the part of Jenny in Pooling to Paradise – a blogger with Mommy Angst as she contemplates relaunching her career post-kids. In the realm of film, Lynn is something of a fixture at film festivals. In fact, she set an unofficial record at the 28th Annual LAAPFF with 5 concurrent movie roles.

Go here for all of Lynn’s movie, television and video credits.

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Spotlight on ‘Pooling to Paradise’ actor Dreama Walker

Caytha Jentis’ indie comedy Pooling to Paradise will open the 11th Annual Fort Myers Film Festival on Wednesday, May 12. Dreama Walker plays the part of Kara, a struggling actress. A Tampa native, Walker graduated from Henry B. Plant High School in 2004. She made her screen debut two years later and broke out in the role of Hazel Williams in 14 episodes of Gossip Girl (CW, 2008-2009) as one of Blair Waldorf’s (Leighton Meester) minions. Dreama has been working steadily in both television and film ever since.

Of note, you can see her as Connie Stevens in Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (2019), as Clint Eastwood’s granddaughter Ashley Kowalski in Gran Torino and starring opposite Anne Dowd as Becky in the indie break-out thriller Compliance (2012) that premiered at Sundance.

The rest of Dreama’s resume is here.

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Spotlight on ‘Pooling to Paradise’ actor Jordan Carlos

Caytha Jentis’ indie comedy Pooling to Paradise will open the 11th Annual Fort Myers Film Festival on Wednesday, May 12. Jordan Carlos plays the part of a Lyft driver by the name of Marc, who is a hipster anarchist shaman.

Jordan Carlos is a popular New York alternative comic who has been nominated as Best Male Comic of the Year by Emerging Comedians of New York. He recently appeared on Samantha Bee’s Not The White House Correspondence Dinner (TBS) and as the ‘nerd’ from Guy Code and Girl Code (MTV).

The rest of Jordan’s resume is here.

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Spotlight on ‘Pooling to Paradise’ director Roxy Shih

Caytha Jentis’ indie comedy Pooling to Paradise will open the 11th Annual Fort Myers Film Festival on Wednesday, May 12. Daytime-Emmy-nominated Taiwanese-American Roxy Shih directed the film.

Shih is recognized for her versatility and distinctive perspective, which has enabled her to cross genres as well as international borders when it comes to filmmaking. Her work has been shown at a host of prestigious film festivals including The LA Film Festival, Cannes, SXSW, Toronto Independent, Dances with Films, and the LA Asian Pacific Film Festival. Roxy was one of ten chosen for the prestigious Armed With A Camera fellowship in 2011 and received a grant to direct a short film, Play Time, that premiered at the DGA and went on a successful film festival tour internationally.

The rest of Roxy’s profile is here.

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Spotlight on ‘Pooling to Paradise’ co-producer Angela Pedraza

Caytha Jentis’ indie comedy Pooling to Paradise will open the 11th Annual Fort Myers Film Festival on Wednesday, May 12. Daytime-Emmy-nominated Taiwanese-American Roxy Shih directed. Jentis and Angela Pedraza co-produced the film.

In addition to producing, Pedraza is a director, writer, story creator, artist and philosopher. She got her start in film as a cinematographer, but in 2017 she made the leap to production with the narrative short film It’s Lawr-uh Not Laura, which she also directed and co-wrote. The film tells the story of a young Latinx teen who is ashamed of her identity and the empowering moment when family, love and photography help her find the treasure that lies within her.

Go here for the rest of this spotlight.

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‘Me Too Nice’ satirizes rules of workplace in post #MeToo world

The Fort Myers Film Festival screens Jamie Anderson’s Me Too Nice at 1:30 on Thursday, May 13. Ask Anderson to describe her filmography, and she’ll unabashedly tell you that she makes “cinematic comedies that range from crass to satirical to romantic, but always with heart.”

Me Too Nice is a case in point.

The film follows Grant (John Asher), an excessively nice Human Resources rep who is struggling to be his true self in the maelstrom of the #MeToo movement. “With all these new rules,” he exclaims, exasperated, “I’m going to need a muzzle and a straightjacket or I’m screwed.”

Go here for the rest of this advance.

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Spotlight on ‘Me Too Nice’ filmmaker Jamie Anderson

The Fort Myers Film Festival screens Jamie Anderson’s Me Too Nice at 1:30 on Thursday, May 13. Anderson is a writer, director, filmmaker and actor living in Los Angeles. Having grown up in Mississippi and Florida, her work is inspired by the paradox of the Redneck Riviera juxtaposed against her life in Hollywood. Both afford a wealth of material that guarantees she’ll never run out of something to write about. Anderson is regarded in the industry as one of the most innovative filmmakers in L.A. today. Viva Glam Magazine has identified her as “The New Female Director to Watch Out For in 2020.” The International Screenwriters Association placed her on its “Top 25 Writers to Watch” list in 2018.

The rest of Jamie’s profile is here.

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‘Me Too Nice’ filmmaker Jamie Anderson did it her way

The Fort Myers Film Festival screens Jamie Anderson’s comedic satire Me Too Nice at 1:30 on Thursday, May 13. Anderson is a writer, director, filmmaker and actor living in Los Angeles. She is regarded as one of the most innovative filmmakers in L.A. today, and perhaps there is no greater testament to her creative elan and pop culture sensibilities than the work she did this past summer in penning and directing the first commercial ever released by Craig’s Vegan, a dairy-free ice cream available inside and out of Craig’s West Hollywood.

The rest of this story is here.

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Spotlight on ‘Me Too Nice’ star John Asher

The Fort Myers Film Festival screens Jamie Anderson’s Me Too Nice at 1:30 on Thursday, May 13. The film follows Grant (John Asher), an excessively nice Human Resources rep who is struggling to be his true self in the maelstrom of the #MeToo movement. “With all these new rules,” he exclaims, exasperated, “I’m going to need a muzzle and a straightjacket or I’m screwed.”

Asher always wanted to be a director, but since children don’t have many directing opportunities, John became an actor early on. He’s been in numerous television series dating back to 1990, when he appeared in an episode of Beverly Hills 90210. He’s best known for Weird Science, where he appeared in 88 episodes between 1994 and 1998. But he has also been seen in Over My Dead Body (1990), Married … with Children (1991), Designing Women (1991), Who’s the Boss? (1991), Step by Step (1992), Great Scott! (1992), The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles (1993), Up All Night (1994), Going to California (2001-2002), Las Vegas (2004), NCIS (2007), CSI: Crime Scene Investigations (2007), Ghost Whisperer (2010), In Plain Sight (2011), The Mentalist (2012), Rizzoli & Isles (2016), Blue Bloods (2018), Grace and Frankie (2019) and The Rookie (2019).

Go here for the rest of John’s profile.

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Spotlight on ‘Me Too Nice’ receptionist Bree Turner

Bree Turner plays receptionist Jenny in Jamie Anderson’s #MeToo satire Me Too Nice, which screens in the Awesome Short 1 block on Thursday, May 13 at the Fort Myers Film Festival. In addition to Me Too Nice, Turner spent the pandemic appearing as Ashland/Zelda in four episodes of the hit television series Quarantine and in the role of Madeline Cooper in the TV movie Glass Houses. She is most often associated with the Grimm brand, having appeared as Rosalee Calvert in 100 episodes of the television series Grimm (2012-2017) as well as the TV mini-series short Grimm: Love is in the Air (2014) and Grimm: Bad Hair Day (2013).

You will find the rest of Bree’s profile here.

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Spotlight on ‘Me Too Nice’ actor Aaron Takahashi

The Fort Myers Film Festival screens Jamie Anderson’s Me Too Nice at 1:30 on Thursday, May 13.

The film follows Grant (John Asher), an excessively nice Human Resources rep who is struggling to be his true self in the maelstrom of the #MeToo movement. Aaron Takahashi plays Grant’s co-worker and best friend, Lars.

Takahashi is best known for his roles as the male nurse Lee in the 2008 film Yes Man (opposite Jim Carrey), as Troy in the 2013 film Welcome to the Jungle (opposite Jean-Claude Van Damme), and one of the fake groomsmen in The Wedding Ringer starring Kevin Hart (2015).

The rest of Aaron’s profile is here.

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Fort Myers Film Festival screening John Biffar’s ‘Captiva Island’ on Throwback Thursday

The Fort Myers Film Festival returns to the River District May 12-16 and this year it will feature a “new” category of indie, the “throwback.” And one that’s certain to excite many locals is John Biffar’s Captiva Island, which he debuted in 1995.

In case the name John Biffar is not familiar, over the course of his career as a filmmaker (he’s been a producer, director, screenwriter and cinematographer) he has directed such notable talent as Don Shula (former coach of the Miami Dolphins), Helio Castroneves (Indy Car Champion and Dancing with the Stars Mirror Ball winner), Ernest Borgine (McHales Navy), Arte Johnson (Laugh In), Norma Miller (The Queen of Swing), Bill Cobbs (Night At The Museum, Northern Exposure) Ali MacGraw (Love Story), news legend Walter Cronkite, Olympic skater Dorothy Hamill and Jacques Cousteau.

Go here to read more.

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‘A Greenlander’ follows French painter Pierre Auzias

Screening at multiple times and venues during this year’s Fort Myers Film Festival is A Greenlander from Director Nicholas Jones. A Greenlander follows Pierre A.C. Auzias, a French painter who has fully integrated into a settlement 450 miles north of the arctic circle in Greenland known as Uummaanaq. Pierre speaks Greenlandic, travels by dog sled and teaches art therapy to neglected children. But after 14 years in Greenland, Pierre’s partner, Annie, retires from her position as the town doctor and returns to France. Pierre then spends an agonizing nine months in limbo, waiting to find out if the Danish authorities will grant him citizenship.

Auzias is a world-renowned artist, illustrator, teacher and navigator.

The rest of this preview can be found here.

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‘Marjory’ tells the story of the epic life of conservationist Marjory Stoneman Douglas

Each year the Fort Myers Film Festival screens a host of environmental features, documentaries and short films. Included in this year’s offerings is Kaman Sway’s Marjory. Through the film, Sway tells the story of the epic life of American journalist, author, women’s suffrage advocate and conservationist Marjory Stoneman Douglas.

Today, Marjory Stoneman Douglas’ name is regrettably associated with the mass shooting at the high school in Parkland, Florida that bears her name. But that was not always the case. For nearly three-quarters of a century, Stoneman Douglas was affectionately known as the Mother of the Everglades and her name stood for conservation and protection of the Sea of Grasses.

The rest of this preview is here.

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Spotlight on ‘Marjory’ screenwriter and director Kamen Sway

Each year the Fort Myers Film Festival screens a host of environmental features, documentaries and short films. Included in this year’s offerings is Kaman Sway’s Marjory, which briefly tells the story of the epic life of American journalist, author, women’s suffrage advocate and conservationist Marjory Stoneman Douglas, who was known for her staunch defense of the Florida Everglades River of Grass.

Sway is a passionate and skillful visual and narrative storyteller. He synthesizes his unique cinematic style and more than 25 years of experience in front of and behind the camera to move, awe and dazzle audiences across the globe through the universal language of cinema.

Kamen has written, directed, edited, starred in and produced various short films, TV commercials/infomercials and two narrative feature films.

The rest of Kamen’s spotlight is here.

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‘Barbara Crites: Snorkeling St. John’ tells story of woman photographing the seas

One of the environmental films that’s being screened this year by the Fort Myers Film Festival is Barbara Crites: Snorkeling St. John, USVI by Andrea E. Leland. The film follows Barbara Crites, who has been documenting life in the seas surrounding St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands for the past decade.

Ten years ago, Barbara Crites came to the U.S. Virgin Islands for a job. Although she’d both flown and jumped out of airplanes, she did not consider herself adventurous, and she certainly did not see herself as a water person. But when in St. John, you snorkel, so she bought the best equipment she could find and took to the water.

You will find the rest of this advance here.

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‘Stay Wild’ focuses on expanding national parks to provide wildlife corridors

Two of the environmental films that will be screened at this year’s Fort Myers Film Festival involve the importance of wildlife corridors that connect adjacently located habitats. One is The Wild Divide; the other is Stay Wild by Lizzie Fowler.

Stay Wild centers around ecologist Melissa Wilson, who has spent the past decade analyzing how expanding national parks and connecting them through recreational trails could help sequester carbon and provide wildlife corridors.

“I save wild places for wild people,” Wilson sums up succinctly. “My research focuses on two primary areas: saving large wild landscapes and building the human-nature connection.”

In 2017, Wilson heard “Conservacion Patagonica” speak about connecting the national parks in Chile at a conference at Duke University.

Go here for the balance of this preview.

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‘Fisher’s Right to Know’ hopes to foster care and concern for environment

Among the environmentally-themed films that the Fort Myers Film Festival will screen this year is John Haley’s A Fisher’s Right to Know.

Fishers throughout East Alabama depend on the mighty Coosa River for food, recreation and a family pastime that goes back generations. But do fishermen and women — and their families — have a right to know which fish are safe to consume? Not currently in Alabama, the River State. Coosa Riverkeeper and other advocates are working to give fishers across the entire state that right.

Go here for the rest of this preview.

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Spotlight on ‘Fisher’s Right to Know’ documentary filmmaker John Haley

Among the environmentally-themed films that the Fort Myers Film Festival will screen this year is John Haley’s A Fisher’s Right to Know.

Haley is a Minnesota filmmaker who has an interest in the intersection of documentary film with social advocacy. A graduate of the University of Notre Dame’s programs in Film, Television, and Theatre and Peace Studies, John has worked with organizations such as CBS News and Art Works Projects to develop his media practice. He is currently an MFA Candidate in Documentary Media at Northwestern University.

John has independently directed several short films with topics ranging from the death penalty in America to LGBTQ+ identity within the Catholic Church.

The rest of this spotlight is here.

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The intriguing true-life etiology of ‘A Case of Blue’

One of the feature films being screened this year by the Fort Myers Film Festival is A Case of Blue. The film follows a recently-retired baby boomer as he experiences a journey of the soul after he encounters a woman who looks identical to a long lost love from his youth in a life drawing class in New York City. What ensues is a haunting tale of lost love, the impermanence of memories, and the enduring flame of passion through time.

Written and directed by Dana H. Glazer, the film has an intriguing etiology.

Access the balance of this advance here.

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Spotlight on ‘A Case of Blue’ actor Stephen Schnetzer

One of the feature films being screened this year by the Fort Myers Film Festival is A Case of Blue, in which a recently-retired baby boomer experiences a journey of the soul when he signs up for a life drawing class in New York City and encounters the class’s free-spirited model, who looks identical to a long-lost love from his youth. Stephen Schnetzer stars in the role of retired accountant Richard Flicker.

Schnetzer began his acting career on Guiding Light in 1952. A Case of Blue is just the latest role in a long line of television and film appearances.

The rest of Schnetzer’s profile is here.

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Spotlight on ‘A Case of Blue’ actor Annapurna Sriram

One of the feature films being screened this year by the Fort Myers Film Festival is A Case of Blue, in which a recently-retired baby boomer experiences a journey of the soul when he signs up for a life drawing class in New York City and encounters the class’s free-spirited model, who looks identical to a long-lost love from his youth. Annapurna Sriram stars in the role of that free-spirited muse, Amelia.

Sriram is a relative newcomer to narrative features. Her performance as Yazmine in the 2019 film Feral was her first lead in a narrative feature film, and after its premiere at the Sarasota Film Festival, the film was featured at the Sidewalk Film Festival, Nashville Film Festival, Bushwick Festival (where she won the Outstanding Performance Award), and The Montreal Festival du Nouveau Cinema World Film Festival.

The rest of Annapurna’s profile is here.

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Fort Myers’ love affair with Edison films dates back to 1908

At sunset (8:00ish) on Friday, May 14, the Edison and Ford Winter Estates will host the Fort Myers Film Festival, screening four films on the lawn of the Henry Ford Estate. Seated outdoors along the picturesque Caloosahatchee River, guests will watch movies under the stars. The films will include an Edison silent picture, a production about the late Sam Galloway, and two feature films, Stay Wild and A Greenlander. The site is one of several locations hosting the Film Festival occurring May 12-16.

It’s an appropriate partnership given Fort Myers’ long love affair with pictorial storytelling and the man who invented much of the technology that made filmmaking possible.

Go here for more.

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‘Every Second Counts’ features local actors and locations

One of the strictly local short films in this year’s Fort Myers Film Festival is Jeff Frey’s Every Second Counts. A story about people who become intertwined without being conscious of their connection, on a grand scale the film asks whether a second can change someone’s life forever or we’re destined to fall into the same addictions no matter what.

Frey (2nd image) both wrote and directed the film. It’s his fifth project. His others consist of the 2020 short film The Bartender’s Guide (in which he also plays a bartender), the 2020 drama A Summer to Remember (which he produced and plays the part of Don Jamison), the 2019 short A Related Matter (which he directed and played the role of James Founder) and the 2019 short film Retentissant (which he directed and produced).

Go here for the rest of this advance.

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Cassidy Reyes plays recovering heroin addict in ‘Every Second Counts’ short film

One of the strictly local short films in this year’s Fort Myers Film Festival is Jeff Frey’s Every Second Counts. It’s a story about people who become intertwined without being conscious of their connection. On a grand scale, the film asks whether a second can change someone’s life forever or we’re destined to fall into the same addictions no matter what.

Cassidy Reyes plays the lead. Her character is a recovering heroin addict who is looking for a job as she tries to restore normalcy to her shattered life.

“Usually, I have some kind of life experiences in common with the characters I play,” says Reyes.

Fortunately, she has no first-hand experience with heroin addiction.

“But I was lucky enough to have an assistant director who’s known some recovering addicts and she reached out to them for guidance.”

Go here for the rest of this article.

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Spotlight on ‘Every Second Counts’ actor Jewelissa Gonzalez

Jewelissa Gonzalez is one of the actors in the cast of Jeff Frey’s Every Second Counts. She plays the role of Laura.

Gonzalez is a relative newcomer to the film acting. Although she studied drama in high school at Manhattan’s Graphics Communication Arts, she didn’t land her first role until after she relocated to Southwest Florida. That occurred when local filmmaker Curtis Collins cast her in the part of Rebecca in Hanging Millstone.

Not long after, she got a call from HBO, which was producing an original series called Ballers. While it wasn’t a speaking part, the experience exposed Jewelissa to A-List celebrities and validated her desire to establish a career in film.

Go here for more.

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Isaac Osin film, ’22 Every Day,’ portrays day in the life of combat vet coping with PTSD

One of the short films that will be screened during this year’s Fort Myers Film Festival is Isaac Osin’s 22 Every Day. The movie follows a military combat veteran as he goes about his daily routine, showing how he relives his experiences during the war years later.

With the war in Afghanistan coming to end this Fall, there is renewed interest in how a new generation of combat veterans will deal with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in the aftermath of 20 years of armed conflict. But tens of thousands of Vietnam combat vets are still grappling with PTSD nearly half a century after that war ended.

The rest of this advance is here.

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Chance meeting at the Alliance leads to the filming of ’22 Every Day’

One of the short films that will be screened during this year’s Fort Myers Film Festival is 22 Every Day. The movie follows a military combat veteran as he goes about his daily routine, showing how he still relives his experiences during the war many years later. But for a chance meeting, though, 22 Every Day may have very well have never been made.

“I met Dr. Joe Reyes at the Alliance for the Arts and he mentioned he was president of United Film & Television Artists,” Osin relates.

The rest of this story is here.

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Maryann Connolly sighting

Isaac Osin’s short drama screens during the Fort Myers Film Festival. Drawing attention to the struggles of combat vets coping with PTSD, the film features three former military people, Richard Bowers, Paul Croteau and Pedro De Armas, along with Joann Dinnen and Maryann Connolly.

“Maryann Connolly is a granddaughter of one of the veterans. You only really see her in photographs, and then she makes a phone call,” Osin notes.

“She’s a professional. She’s great.”

Connolly is singer, songwriter, model and stage and film actor. Her stage credits are impressive and growing all the time. She is also no stranger to advocacy and activism. Her cause is bullying. As a Star Champion for the National Organization Champions Against Bullying, Maryann travels across the country promoting her cause to put an end to bullying with her music. In this effort, she has worked on a global project called Fashion Against Bullying or FAB. Maryann was also on the Teen Advisory Board for Make A Wish.

For more on Ms. Connolly, go here.

22 Every Day will actually screen twice during this year’s Fort Myers Film Festival. It is part of Local Shorts Block 1 that begins at noon on Saturday, Mary 15 in the Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center (along with Jeff Frey’s Every Second CountsPrometheus Bound by Maddalena Kingsley, The Knife by Karen Whitaker and J. Bert Davis, and Waiting for Me by Glendalina Ziemba). And it will be shown a second time at the Laboratory Theater of Florida at 3:00 p.m. on Sunday, May 16.

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‘Hot Dog Steering Wheel’ about hot dogs, family and the grieving process

The Fort Myers Film Festival is screening Meg Favreau’s film Hot Dog Steering Wheel on Saturday, May 15. Meg describes herself as an absurdist comedian grounded in emotion, and her film is about hot dogs, family and the grieving process as Gwen discovers when her hot dog drive does not go as planned.

“I believe life is both absurdly funny and brutally difficult — often at the same time,” says Meg. “The films that really delight me build surprising, humorous, off-kilter worlds, then tell deeply human stories in those spaces. That was my goal with Hot Dog Steering Wheel — to cross tone and genre to tell a story that’s simultaneously absurd and cathartic.”

The rest of this preview is here.

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‘Now You See Us’ parodies invisibility of ageism in modern-day society

Now You See Us is one of the short films that the Fort Myers Film Festival is screening this year. The film features an all-female cast and crew.

The short opens with a sixty-something actress by the name of Caroline (Caroline Ryburn) repeating her peculiar pre-audition routine for the thousandth time when suddenly the door to the minuscule waiting area opens. In enters not the casting director, but her career-long rival, Barb (Barbara Miluski). The catty hopefuls wait, bicker, rehearse, then bicker some more… Finally they are ushered into an equally dreary and horrendously stuffy casting room.

The rest of this advance is here.

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Spotlight on ‘Now You See Us’ director and editor Romina Schwedler

Now You See Us is one of the short films that the Fort Myers Film Festival is screening this year. Romina Schwedler not only directed and edited the film, she adapted the screenplay from a play titled Boom that was written by one of the film’s stars, Barbara Miluski.

Schwedler read Miluski’s script and fell in love with the story while she was in the final stages of an intensive festival run with The Visit, a psychological short drama starring Academy Award® Nominee June Squibb (Nebraska, Shameless) and Sean Maher (Serenity, Firefly). The Visit not only gained entry into 47 film festivals (among them Oscar® Qualifying HollyShorts, Cinequest, and St. Louis International Film Festival, as well as the SAG-AFTRA Short Film Showcase and Catalina Film Festival), it earned 12 awards, 16 nominations, and 5 special mentions (including the Millie Award for Best Director, Best Short Film, and Best Overall Festival Film).

In fact, the Fort Myers Film Festival was among those 47 festivals for which The Visit became an official selection.

Go here for more on Romina Schwedler’s extensive acting and direction credits.

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Spotlight on ‘Now You See Us’ actor Barbara Miluski

Now You See Us is one of the short films that the Fort Myers Film Festival is screening this year. Romina Schwedler directed, edited and adapted the screenplay from a play titled Boom that was written by one of the film’s stars, Barbara Miluski.

In addition to Now You See Us, Miluski’s film credits include Dr. Fish in the short film Her Favorite Patient (2020), a waitress in the short Sure-Fire (2017), a cook in the short The Foster Portfolio (2017), Wake (2015), Sandy in the short What’s Eating Dad (2014), Vi/South in the short Super Grannies Bridge Club (2013), Babs in the short Walkie Buddies (2013) …. Go here for more on Barbara’s film and other credits.

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Spotlight on ‘Now You See Us’ actor Caroline Ryburn

Now You See Us is one of the short films that the Fort Myers Film Festival is screening this year. It stars Barbara Miluski and Caroline Ryburn.

Caroline Ryburn is known for her work in both theater and film.

Besides Now You See Us, her film and TV credits include the role of Max’s mom in two episodes of the TV Mini-Series Life Sucks (2018), Edweenie in Lords of the Bowery (2018) and Jane Farnsworth in Finding Jane. Caroline will also be seen as Iris in Mouse (a psychological thriller that is expected to be released and begin its film festival run in 2021) and Gisele in the short film Rivka? (which is in post-production). The rest of Caroline’s film and other credits are here.

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‘About Frances’ examines the act of storytelling in face of a slippery truth

Filmmaker and FMFF alum Jordan Axelrod is back. This year the Fort Myers Film Festival screens his latest short, a 20-minute character study titled About Frances that tracks two parallel storylines.

In the first, the ghostwriter of a family matriarch’s memoirs aims to protect the unexpected story she left behind. In the second plotline, a street performer on the other side of the city who is in search of an audience tinkers hopefully with a new song.

Go here for the rest of this advance.

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‘Open House 1-4’ satirizes social class, ethnic profiling

After previewing earlier this year at TGIM (Thank God for Indie Monday), Open House 1-4 returns to the Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center’s grand atrium for the big show, the Fort Myers Film Festival itself. It’s a venue in which the film’s snooty realtor (played by Tanya Christiansen) would feel right at home. Shot on location in a swanky million dollar mansion down Tamiami Trail in Naples, Florida, Open House 1-4 satirizes social class, ethnic profiling and making assumptions based solely on the presence (or absence) of the trappings of success.

The rest of this preview is here.

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Spotlight on ‘Open House’ star Tanya Christiansen

One of the short films that the Fort Myers Film Festival will be screening this year is Open House 1-4 by Naples-based screenwriter and director Brad Holloway. It follows a snooty realtor specializing in high-end residential properties who uses a combination of upper class and ethnic profiling to “pre-qualify” the prospective buyers who show up at her open houses. Tanya Christiansen stars in the role of the impertinent realtor.

The Tennessee native began her acting career on stage doing local theater. Following her graduation from the University of Tennessee with a degree in Consumer Sciences, she landed an on-air job as host for a home shopping channel selling everything from jewelry to exercise equipment and clothing. Christiansen credits the job with not only making her comfortable in front of the camera, but giving her the opportunity to fine-tune her improvisational skills.

National commercials, television pilots, and feature films soon followed.

The rest of Tanya Christiansen’s spotlight is here.

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Spotlight on ‘Open House’ actor Chellie Garcia

One of the short films that the Fort Myers Film Festival will be screening this year is Open House 1-4 by Naples-based screenwriter and director Brad Holloway. It follows a snooty realtor who specializes in high-end residential properties who uses a combination of upper class and ethnic profiling to “pre-qualify” the prospective buyers who show up at her open houses. So when a Cubano couple arrive, music blaring, in sedan with no hubcaps, Ms. Pretentious cannot get rid of them fast enough. Chellie Garcia plays the Latina wife.

Garcia is a Cuban-American actor, singer and songwriter. Chellie started performing live shows at age five, fronting bands made-up of some of Miami’s best professional musicians. Introduced to theatre at eleven, she fell in love and quickly began performing across New York City with a local drama company. Before she knew it, Chellie found herself hanging out on television show sets such as NBCs Third Watch and Whoopi.

Chellie has played a diverse range of characters, effortlessly, landing roles in a number of music videos, TV pilots (such as David Rush Firm (2020)) and commercials.

The rest of this spotlight is here.

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Spotlight on ‘Open House’ actor Donna Rae Allen

One of the short films that the Fort Myers Film Festival will be screening this year is Open House 1-4 by Naples-based screenwriter and director Brad Holloway. It follows a snooty realtor specializing in high-end residential properties who uses a combination of upper class and ethnic profiling to “pre-qualify” the prospective buyers who show up at her open houses. One of the characters who makes the grade is the Wealthy Wife, played by Donna Rae Allen.

Allen has enjoyed a successful career in the entertainment business, working in movies, television, industrial films, and commercials in the 1980s-1990s. She was most noted for her role as Winona Donnelly in Dick Wolf’s television series South Beach (1992). Donna was also cast as a principal in several national advertising campaigns, including Proctor & Gamble’s Febreze, Lipton mini-meals, Royal Caribbean, Sea-Doo and Norwegian Cruise Lines.

The rest of Donna Rae Allen’s profile is here.

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‘The Wild Divide’ underscores need for large-scale habitat connectivity

Each year, the Florida Film Festival features documentaries that explore environmental themes and educate its audiences on a range of ecological issues. The Wild Divide is one such film. It is characterized by breathtaking macro and micro cinematography, exceptional production value and considered and thought-provoking content.

The Lake Wales Ridge is an ancient ribbon of sand dunes that is a hotspot for biodiversity found nowhere else in the world. It is also a place steeped in a long tradition of ranching and agriculture. Both are threatened by the rapid pace of development in Florida’s interior, which is facilitated by U.S. 27, a highway that bisects and is pushing the Florida Wildlife Corridor to the breaking point.

You will find the rest of this preview here.

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Spotlight on ‘The Wild Divide’ filmmakers Eric Bendick and Danny Schmidt

The Fort Myers Film Festival will screen The Wild Divide in the Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center during Local Block 2 beginning at 3:00 p.m. on Saturday, May 15. Directed by Eric Bendick and Danny Schmidt, The Wild Divide is denoted by exceptional production value (including breathtaking macro and micro cinematography and crystal clear studio-quality sound) and considered, thought-provoking content that makes a strong argument for preserving and protecting the Florida Wildlife Corridor.

Eric Bendick is an Emmy-winning writer, director and series producer. He has led filming expeditions in the Florida Everglades, the Grand Canyon, the Great Bear Rainforest, the Alaska Range, and to the most remote spot in Yellowstone National Park.

The rest of this spotlight is here.

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‘The Knife’ is a ‘strictly local’ Fort Myers Film Festival ‘throwback’

The Fort Myers Film Festival has added a new category of films this year. The festival is featuring a number of “Throwbacks,” such as The Knife, a 2011 short film written, directed and produced by Karen Whitaker and J. Bert Davis whose sequel once removed, Ring, was FMFF’s “Audience Favorite Film” in 2016.

In The Knife, Stephanie thinks her husband is cheating on her with her bestie, Karen. That night, Stephanie and Terry attend a party at Karen’s house.

The rest of this post is here.

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‘The Knife’ may have inspired Stephanie Davis to go into directing

When Karen Whitaker and Bert Davis decided to make their first film, they made the tactical decision to only invite friends who had no acting experience whatsoever to be part of the cast. “We’re so bad that we’re good” was their governing mantra. But they made on important exception. They brought in the Downtown Diva, to anchor their cast. By 2011, the ineffable Stephanie Davis had already left her imprint on the local theater scene.

The fact that Davis would make any impact in theater here, or anywhere, seems in retrospect to be highly unlikely. After all, she never made it past the eighth grade.

The rest of this story is here.

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Terry Tincher’s role in ‘The Knife’ presaged Ghostbird stage appearances

There’s a reunion coming to the Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center on Saturday, May 15. At 10:00 p.m., the Fort Myers Film Festival is bringing back The Knife, the seminal short film by which Karen Whitaker and J. Bert Davis cut their filmmaking teeth. And one of the stars of that flick was Terry Tincher, who plays a husband who may be stepping out on his wife, played by Diva Diaries’ Stephanie Davis.

Tincher has been a fixture in Southwest Florida art circles for more than 30 years. Besides representing collectors on both sides of the sales transaction, Terry founded Tincture Art Gallery and Space 39, unquestionably the coolest art bar in downtown Fort Myers.

The rest of this article is here.

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‘The New Abolitionists’ more than a passion project for filmmaker Christina Zorich

Actor/director Christina Zorich’s sex trafficking documentary, The New Abolitionists, screens at the Fort Myers Film Festival at 10:00 a.m. on Sunday, May 16. It’s an important film that tracks the efforts of four ministries and related NGOs (non-governmental organizations) to rescue children and teens who have been entrapped and enslaved in the sex trade in Cambodia and Thailand. With over 11 million sex slaves, Asia is considered the most trafficked region in the world.

The documentary puts boots on the ground in spite of the risk to both the filmmakers and the members of the NGOs they followed. In fact, Zorich’s mother, Olympia Dukakis, warned her at the outset of the project to protect herself.

You will find the rest of this advance here.

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Spotlight on ‘The New Abolitionists’ filmmaker Christina Zorich

Actor/director Christina Zorich’s sex trafficking documentary, The New Abolitionists, screens at the Fort Myers Film Festival at 10:00 a.m. on Sunday, May 16. It’s an important film that tracks the efforts of four ministries and related NGOs (non-governmental organizations) to rescue children and teens who have been entrapped and enslaved in the sex trade in Cambodia and Thailand.

The rest of Christina’s spotlight is here.

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Numerous SWFL groups battling human trafficking

Actor/director Christina Zorich’s sex trafficking documentary, The New Abolitionists, screens at the Fort Myers Film Festival at 10:00 a.m. on Sunday, May 16. It’s an important film that tracks the efforts of four ministries and related NGOs (non-governmental organizations) to rescue children and teens who have been entrapped and enslaved in the sex trade in Cambodia and Thailand.

But human trafficking is a global phenomenon, and trafficking of all forms, including but not limited to labor and sex, is present in great numbers here in Florida.

In fact, last year Florida ranked third nationally when it comes to human trafficking cases.

Go here for the balance of this expose.

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FMFF announces ‘Lost Film of Nuremberg’ documentary as closing film

On November 20, 1945, an international military tribunal was convened for the purpose of putting more than 20 high Nazi officials, including 4 members of the Armed Forces High Command, on trial for war crimes and crimes against peace and humanity. Today, it is known as “the Nuremberg trial” and it represented the first time in history that film and photographs were employed as evidence against defendants. At the same time, the lead prosecutor, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson, wanted a film made documenting the trial in order to show the German public that their leaders had been given a fair trial and had, essentially, convicted themselves. He also envisioned that the film would provide an enduring lesson for posterity. But the United States War Department suppressed the film’s U.S. release, presumably because it would undermine public support for rebuilding Germany and combatting Soviet expansionism. That film has now been restored and will be shown for the very first time in the United States on the closing day of this year’s Fort Myers Film Festival.

Please go here for the rest of this advance.

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Saga of Schulberg and Zigman’s Nuremberg trial documentary

The 1948 film Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today will be screened for the very first time in the United States at the Fort Myers Film Festival. Although Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson expected the film to provide an enduring lesson for posterity, the U.S. War Department suppressed the film’s release. Now, 73 years later, cineastes attending the final day of this year’s FMFF will finally get to see the film that documented the prosecution of more than 20 high Nazi officials (including four members of the Nazi High Command) using original footage compiled by Joseph Goebbels’ Reich Ministry of Propaganda and Public Enlightenment documenting the rise of the National Socialist Party as well as the concentration camps created to exterminate Jews, homosexuals and others deemed undesirable by the Reich.

The rest of this preview is here.

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The Nuremberg Trial defendants

On Sunday, May 16, the Fort Myers Film Festival will screen Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today. Made between 1946 and 1948, the documentary chronicles the 11-month-long Nuremberg trial that ended October 1, 1946.

Memories fade with the passage of time, so it is worthwhile recalling who the defendants were and why they were on trial. Hitler, Joseph Goebbels and Heinrich Himmler were not among those under indictment. They had committed suicide in the waning days of World War II. But more than 20 high-level Nazi officials sat in the Nuremberg courtroom. These were the most notorious of the defendants:

  • Hermann Goering
  • Ernst Kaltenbrunner
  • Alfred Rosenberg
  • Joachim Von Ribbentrop
  • Hans Frank
  • Rudolf Hess
  • Albert Speer

Go here to learn more.

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SWFL filmmaker KC Schulberg to receive lifetime achievement award at FMFF

The Fort Myers Film Festival will award Southwest Florida filmmaker KC Schulberg with a lifetime achievement award on the final day of this year’s festival during the awards ceremony that will follow the screening of The Lost Film of Nuremberg and the ensuing filmmakers’ panel discussion about the importance of film in the Nuremberg trials and its relevance today.

Schulberg got his start in film at the age of five when he appeared as an extra in his father’s and uncle’s 1958 movie Wind Across the Everglades (which was shot in Chokoloskee). Eleven years later, he got his start in social activism as the youngest (16-year-old) marshal serving the Poor People’s Campaign & March on Washington in 1968.

Go here for the rest of this announcement.

 

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2       BONITA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL

 

Bonita International Film Festival takes place May 21-23, 2021

The Bonita International Film Festival (BIFF) opens Friday, May 21 with Paint, a dramedy about three friends from art school who are struggling to start their careers in the bizarre New York City art world while trying to figure themselves out and get by economically. Written and directed by Michael Walker, the film stars Josh Caras (The Highwaymen, The Glass Castle), Olivia Luccardi (Channel Zero: Butcher’s Block, It Follows) and Paul Cooper (The Gifted, Westworld).

Over the next two days, BIFF will present more than 60 carefully-curated narrative, documentary, animation and short films from around the world.

The rest of this announcement is here.

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BIFF 2021 opens May 21 with ‘Paint’ and NightBird

The Bonita International Film Festival (BIFF) opens Friday, May 21 with Paint, a dramedy about three friends from art school who are struggling to start their careers in the bizarre New York City art world while trying to figure themselves out and get by economically. Written and directed by Michael Walker, the film stars Josh Caras (The Highwaymen, The Glass Castle), Olivia Luccardi (Channel Zero: Butcher’s Block, It Follows) and Paul Cooper (The Gifted, Westworld).

Prior to the screening, there will be a cocktail reception with heavy hors d’oeuvres beginning at 5:00 p.m. Then NightBird takes the stage at 8:00 p.m. to regale filmmakers, cineastes, art lovers and those who just love soulful rock ‘n roll with covers from Steve Nicks ranging from her early career with Fleetwood Mac into anthology as a solo artist.

Go here for more.

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‘Paint’ follows three aspiring Brooklyn artists who dare to dream

The Bonita International Film Festival (BIFF) opens Friday, May 21 with a 5:00 p.m. cocktail part, Paint and a concert by the Stevie Nicks concert band NightBird.

Paint is a character-driven dramedy about three young artists living in Brooklyn. A year out of art school, they are not only trying to make it in the art world, they’re trying to figure out who they are and what they need and want.

Each aspiring artist has their heart set on achieving success in the New York art world. (Cue up Old Blue Eyes …. Because if “I can make it there, I can make it anywhere, New York, New York”).But their trajectory is as unexpected and distinct as a Bob Rauschenberg Combine or Warhol silkscreen.

You will find the rest of this preview here.

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Spotlight on ‘Paint’ actor Olivia Luccardi

The Bonita International Film Festival (BIFF) opens Friday, May 21 with a 5:00 p.m. cocktail part, Paint and a concert by the Stevie Nicks concert band NightBird.

Paint is a dramedy about three friends from art school who are struggling to start their careers in the bizarre New York City art world while trying to figure themselves out and get by economically. Written and directed by Michael Walker, the film stars Josh Caras (The Highwaymen, The Glass Castle), Paul Cooper (The Gifted, Westworld) and Olivia Luccardi.

The rest of Olivia’s spotlight is here.

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Spotlight on ‘Paint’ actor Josh Caras

The Bonita International Film Festival (BIFF) opens Friday, May 21 with a 5:00 p.m. cocktail part, Paint and a concert by the Stevie Nicks concert band NightBird.

Paint is a dramedy about three friends from art school who are struggling to start their careers in the bizarre New York City art world while trying to figure themselves out and get by economically. Written and directed by Michael Walker, the film stars Paul Cooper (The Gifted, Westworld), Olivia Luccardi (Money Monster, Orange is the New Black) and Josh Caras, who plays the part of Dan Pierson.

More on Josh Caras can be found here.

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Spotlight on ‘Paint’ actor Paul Cooper

The Bonita International Film Festival (BIFF) opens Friday, May 21 with a 5:00 p.m. cocktail part, Paint and a concert by the Stevie Nicks concert band NightBird.

Paint is a dramedy about three friends from art school who are struggling to start their careers in the bizarre New York City art world while trying to figure themselves out and get by economically. Written and directed by Michael Walker, the film stars Josh Caras (Good Boys, The Highwayman, The Glass Castle), Olivia Luccardi (Money Monster, Orange is the New Black) and Paul Cooper, who plays the part of Quinn Donahue. He also played that role in the eponymous TV movie too.

Go here for the rest of this spotlight.

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3      ACTORS

 

Brian Linthicum plays Charles Strickland in David Mamet’s ‘Race’

Lab Theater is bringing David Mamet’s Race to the stage at the end of April. Directed by Sonya McCarter, the production features Michael A. Massari, Lemec Bernard, Cantrella Canady and Brian Linthicum.

Linthicum portrays Charles Strickland, a wealthy white man accused of raping a black woman. Born into wealth, one of Strickland’s many problems is that the word “no” has never found its way into his vocabulary. Although Strickland maintains that he and his accuser were in a consensual relationship, his story begins to unravel as systemic racist anecdotes from his past bubble to the surface.

Go here for more.

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Lemec Bernard plays lawyer Henry Brown in David Mamet’s ‘Race’

Lab Theater is bringing David Mamet’s Race to the stage at the end of April. Directed by Sonya McCarter, the production features Brian Linthicum, Michael A. Massari, Cantrella Canady and Lemec Bernard.

Bernard plays Henry Brown. Henry and his white law partner, Jack Lawson, have been approached by a wealthy white man named Charles Strickland, who is seeking representation against charges that he raped a black woman.

You’ll find the rest of this here.

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Cantrella Canady plays Susan in David Mamet’s ‘Race’

Lab Theater is bringing David Mamet’s Race to the stage at the end of April. Directed by Sonya McCarter, the production features Brian Linthicum, Michael A. Massari, Lemec Bernard and Cantrella Canady.

Canady plays Susan, who is the only person in the play whose last name is never revealed. While the title of the play may be Race, Susan’s true intentions make it clear that sexual politics is also at play in the drama that unfolds when a wealthy white man accused of raping a black woman engages two lawyers to represent him – one who is white and the other who’s black.

For more, go here.

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Michael Massari plays Jack Lawson in David Mamet’s ‘Race’

Michael Massari makes his Lab Theater debut in the role of Jack Lawson in David Mamet’s Race. Michael is an adjunct professor in the Theatre Department at Marymount Manhattan College in New York City. He holds an MFA in Acting from the Professional Actor’s Training Program at the University of Washington. Michael has performed in regional theatres across the country, including: Colorado Shakespeare, Dallas Theatre Center, Florida Studio, Ft. Worth Shakespeare, Idaho Repertory, Intiman, PCPA and Seattle Children’s Theatre. He also appeared as the Mystery Man in the 2011 drama Dreams Awake starring Erin Gray. The rest of this profile is here.

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Gerrie Benzing plays Ruth in TNP’s ‘Calendar Girls’

Gerrie Benzing plays Ruth in The Naples Players’ production of Calendar Girls, which opens with a red carpet gala on Tuesday, April 27. She has appeared in more than 14 productions at Cultural Park Theater, three shows at Lab Theater and made her debut at Theatre Conspiracy at the Alliance for the Arts in 2019 as Lucy and Tommy of No Consequence in Adam Szymkowics’s Marian, or the True Story of Robin Hood at New Phoenix Theater in 2020 in The Full Monty and later that same year at The Studio Players as Theresa in Circle Mirror Transformation. Now TNP audiences have an opportunity to appreciate her stage work as well. Go here for her full profile – and go here to see why Art Southwest Florida celebrated her contributions to theater during Women’s History Month.

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Darlyne Franklin plays Celia in The Naples Players’ production of ‘Calendar Girls’

Darlyne Franklin is an actor, playwright and producer. Among her acting credits is the role of Chris in Neil Simon’s Rumors (for New Phoenix Theatre). And when Calendar Girls opens on April 28 at The Naples Players, Darlyne will be on stage in the role of Celia. Darlyne was born and raised in East Boston, but she’s been a resident of Naples for more than 15 years, after coming to the area as a snowbird and deciding to stay. Franklin is mentioned in Webster’s online Dictionary under “dinner theater” and was featured in a question on the TV game show Jeopardy. Go here to see her full profile.

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Sharon Isern plays bride-to-be Courtney in ‘One Slight Hitch’

One Slight Hitch comes to the Joan Jenks stage beginning May 28. In this Lewis Black farce, Doc and Delia Coleman’s daughter is getting married and Sharon Isern plays the blushing bride, Courtney.

A freelance writer, Courtney has just published her first novel, which was almost successful. Like every bride-to-be, Courtney expects just before the ceremony “something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue.” But never in her wildest imagination did she dream that her something old would come in the form of her ex-boyfriend, Ryan, who shows up at her parents’ home on the big day needing a shower and completely oblivious to the fact that Courtney has moved on with a capital “M.” Or has she?

Go here for more.

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Danielle Channell plays Melanie in ‘One Slight Hitch’

One Slight Hitch comes to the Joan Jenks stage beginning May 28. In this Lewis Black farce, Doc and Delia Coleman have three winsome daughters. Their eldest, Courtney, is getting married. Their youngest, P.B., is a free spirit trapped in a tightly-wound, button-down family. Their middle girl, Melanie, is an attractive 20-something nurse. She’s not just psychotic. Melanie is distracted. When she finds her older sister’s ex half naked downstairs on the day of the wedding, well, let’s just say that her mind’s no longer on the nuptials taking place outside.

Who do you think of when it comes to casting psychotic – especially if you’re staging a farce? While there may be quite a number actors in Southwest Florida who’d be delighted to fill the bill, one choice seems abundantly obvious. That would be Danielle Channell, the Queen of Farce. Go here for more.

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Rosie DeLeon plays P.B. in ‘One Slight Hitch’

One Slight Hitch comes to the Joan Jenks stage beginning May 28. In this Lewis Black farce, Doc and Delia Coleman’s daughter, Courtney, is getting married and Rosie DeLeon plays the bride’s youngest sister, P.B., a free spirit in a tight-laced, button-down family.

Rosie last appeared on the Joan Jenks stage in the role of Lauren in Circle Mirror Transformation.

Go here for the rest of her growing resume.

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4     DIRECTORS

 

Sonya McCarter directs David Mamet’s ‘Race’ for Lab Theater

Lab Theater is bringing David Mamet’s Race to the stage at the end of April. Sonya McCarter directs.

Sonya is a gifted director whose credits include Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun, August Wilson’s King Hedley IISeven Guitars and Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Lydia Diamond’s The Bluest Eye and George C. Wolff’s The Colored Museum.

So who better to understand how mixed audiences and casts react to themes involving institutional racism and race relations?

Go here for more.

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5    THEATER

 

Broadway Palm announces adult auditions

Broadway Palm is holding open auditions for adults (18+) for their upcoming productions on Sunday, May 2, 2021 at 1:00 p.m. Roles are available for both musical theater actors and comedic actors.

The following are the productions that are available:

  • Beehive, plays May 27 – June 26, 2021 (Rehearsals May 13 – May 26)
  • Grease, plays July 1 – August 14, 2021 (Rehearsals June 17 – June 30)
  • A Night On Broadway, plays September 9 – October 7, 2021 (Rehearsals August 28 – September 8)
  • The Sound of Music, plays October 7 – November 20, 2021 (Rehearsals September 23 – October 6)

Also casting for The Off Broadway Palm Theatre productions of:

  • Farce of Nature, plays June 3 – July 25, 2021 (Rehearsals May 20 – June 2)
  • Social Security, plays September 23 – November 6, 2021 (Rehearsals September 7 – September 22)
  • No Claus for Alarm, plays November 11 – December 25, 2021 (Rehearsals October 28 – November 10)

Anyone interested in auditioning should bring a current headshot and resume. Those auditioning for a musical need to be prepared to sing 32 bars of two contrasting songs that best shows off your vocal range. Please bring sheet music in the proper key; an accompanist will be provided (no recorded music is accepted.) Songs should be in the musical theatre genre. After the vocal audition, actors/actresses may be asked to attend a dance and/or reading audition.

Those auditioning for an Off Broadway Palm comedy need to have a prepared comic monologue for their audition.

Please allow yourself enough time to be seen and possibly be called back to read and/or dance.

Social distancing will apply in the theatre and masks need to be worn while waiting for your appointment and when entering the theatre.

Broadway Palm and The Off Broadway Palm are professional theatres. Productions require a two-week rehearsal process with rehearsals daily. Anyone interested must be available for the two-week rehearsal process and all performances. Performances are Tuesday through Sunday evenings with selected matinees on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday or Sunday. Performance schedules are available at BroadwayPalm.com.

All those auditioning must have local housing in the Southwest Florida area or be able to commute from their home location.

Auditions will be held on Sunday, May 2, 2021 at Broadway Palm, 1380 Colonial Boulevard in Fort Myers. All auditions are by appointment only and can be made by emailing Brian Enzman at Brian@BroadwayPalm.com. All appointments must be requested by Friday, April 30, 2021 at 5:00 p.m. For more information, please visit www.BroadwayPalm.com or call (239) 278-4422.

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‘Bronx Tale’ plays now through May 22 at Broadway Palm

A Bronx Tale is playing now through May 22 at Broadway Palm. This streetwise musical is based on Academy Award® nominee Chazz Palminteri’s story that The New York Times hails as “a Critics’ Pick; the kind of tale that makes you laugh and cry!”

This hit crowd-pleaser takes you to a working class Italian American neighborhood in the Bronx in the 1960s where a young man is caught between the father he loves and the mob boss he would love to be.

Bursting with high-energy dance numbers and original doo-wop tunes, A Bronx Tale is an unforgettable story of loyalty, love, respect and, most importantly, family.

Performances are Wednesday through Sunday evenings with selected matinees. Tickets are $48 to $73. Children and group prices are available. Tickets are now on sale and can be reserved by calling (239) 278-4422, visiting BroadwayPalm.com or in person at 1380 Colonial Boulevard in Fort Myers.

Broadway Palm is continuing to follow CDC guidelines while providing a delicious meal and exceptional entertainment in a safe and socially distanced environment. For a list of the extensive health and safety measures they have taken, please visit BroadwayPalm.com. It is important to note that guests are required to wear masks while not eating or drinking.

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‘Calendar Girls’ rare play about female friendship, bonding and empowerment

The Naples Players opens its 68th season with a return to indoor performances on April 28 with Tim Firth’s Calendar Girls. The play is based on the true story of a group of middle to late age British women who decided to pose nude for a calendar in order to raise money for a new sofa for the local hospital’s waiting room after one woman in the group lost her husband to leukemia. But while a lot of the show’s laughs result from the concept, the play itself is not about nudity. It’s about friendship, female bonding, and the corrosive, corruptive force of sudden fame and notoriety.

The script is replete with laughs, although some of the humor in the early-going is likely lost on American audiences because it presupposes a knowledge and understanding of British culture, current events and celebrity personas. It’s like being present when someone tells an inside joke. It sounds funny, you want to laugh, but you really don’t get it because you don’t really know what the joke-teller is trying to lampoon.

That aside, this play is full of lively, poignant and relatable dialogue, situations and, above all, characters.

The rest of the advance is here.

And go here for play dates, times and ticket information.

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Spotlight on ‘Calendar Girls’ playwright Tim Firth

Before it was a stage play, Calendar Girls was a successful motion picture. But in 2008, Firth adapted his film for the stage, and that started a love affair during which British audiences made Calendar Girls the all-time number one box office hit in that nation’s history. Since 2011, U.S. audiences have also been getting to see just why the show’s been so popular across the pond.

Born in 1964, Firth started writing at a young age. By 15, he was already penning full-length musicals for local schools, and a year before graduation he was even commissioned to write a television script.

While studying English at Cambridge, he had occasion to attend an Arvon Foundation writing course run by playwrights Willy Russell and Danny Hiller. As part of the workshop, he wrote a play about two 16-year-olds trying to write a song.

Go here for the rest of this spotlight.

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‘One Slight Hitch’ mocks our all-too-human attempts to shape our own destiny

One Slight Hitch comes to the Joan Jenks stage beginning May 28. In this Lewis Black farce, Doc and Delia Coleman’s daughter, Courtney, is getting married. Her mom and maid of honor thought they had the Old English Rhyme covered (you know, “something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue). But never did Courtney imagine that her something old would come in the form of her ex-lover, Ryan, who shows up clueless on her wedding day grungy and in need of a shower after returning from an extended hiking trip out of state. So much for Delia’s best laid plans for her daughter’s “perfect wedding.”

The rest of this advance is here.

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6     ARTISTS

 

Five artists chosen for Alliance’s 2021 ‘Art Lives Here’ billboard campaign

The Alliance for the Arts Art Lives Here Selection Committee has juried five artists into this year’s billboard campaign. They fabulous five are Tania Alves, Bruce MacKechnie, Doug Smithwick, Khaysie Tiburcio and Susi Wingenroth.

Now in its third year, the Art Lives Here billboard campaign transforms billboard space throughout Lee County into public art. By bringing artwork outside of the traditional context of museum and gallery walls, the campaign draws attention to emerging artists’ work while at the same time making the arts accessible to all.

Go here for the rest of this announcement.

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Susi Wingenroth creates ‘Frame of Reference’ for healthier choices to preserve planet

Susi Wingenroth is one of five artists juried into this year’s Alliance for the Arts Art Lives Here Billboard Campaign. The work that will be coming to a billboard near you is titled Frame of Reference.

“This painting shows the morning sun radiating through the cypress trees in the wild heart of the wetlands,” says Susi of Frame of Reference. “It is intended as a call to those who see it to enjoy, care for and preserve these wild places.  When we look up from our busy lives and notice our home, beautiful living planet Earth, we see a frame of reference for making healthier choices to preserve the planet for all living beings and for future generations.”

Wingenroth is a Lee County School District arts educator. Prior to her current post, Susi taught art at Canterbury School from May of 2006 through August of 2016 and Renaissance School from August of 2001 through June of 2016. She has her B.A. Fine and Studio Arts from the University of Maryland College Park.

Go here for more.

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Bruce MacKechnie’s ‘Fandiggity Fandango’ expresses ‘some sort of lively, joyful dance’

Bruce MacKechnie is one of five artists juried into this year’s Alliance for the Arts Art Lives Here Billboard Campaign. The work that will be coming to a billboard near you is titled Fandiggity Fandango, which possesses in the words of the artist “an exuberance and rhythm that seemed to express some sort of lively, joyful dance, hence the title.”

“I am inspired by the challenge of translating a composition created with mouse clicks into the physical world of paint strokes,” Bruce amplifies. “As subject matter, I am interested in how pure abstraction is so wide open to interpretation. For this reason, I enjoy playing around with shapes, colors, and compositions to see what comes out of the process—especially surprises and unforeseen meanings.”

You will find the rest of this spotlight here.

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For ‘Art Lives Here’ artist Khaysie Tiburcio, art becomes part of the artist

Khaysie Tiburcio is one of five artists juried into this year’s Alliance for the Arts Art Lives Here Billboard Campaign. The work that will be coming to a billboard near you is titled Art Within Their Souls.

“I wanted to create a piece that represented the impact that art has on the painter,” says Khaysie. “This artwork includes portraits of Basquiat, Picasso, and Andy Warhol morphing into their masterpieces. This is used as a metaphor to express how art becomes a part of the artist.”

Tiburcio was inspired to begin painting by her uncle, Cristian Tiburcio, when she was six years old.

Go here for the balance of this spotlight.

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7     ART SHOWS, EXHIBITIONS & ARTS ORGANIZATIONS

 

Jansen’s ‘Two Decades of Relevance’ at Naples’ Baker Museum through July 25

The Baker Museum is hosting a retrospective of work by internationally-acclaimed artist Marcus Jansen through July 25, 2021. Representing Jansen’s first solo museum exhibition in Southwest Florida, Two Decades of Relevance will showcase 18 powerful paintings, including Foreclosures (2008), Spotlight (2020) and The Colonialist (2021).

Over that span, Jansen has garnered numerous attention and accolades. Part of this recognition inheres in incredible technical competency and his revolutionary genre-busting style. But what sets Jansen apart from his contemporaries is his uncompromising critical commentary on global political and socio-economic issues and the world events that have shaped his life.

For Jansen, painting is an act of intense engagement with the world. It is this quality that emerges from his urban landscapes and portraiture and connects viscerally with those who encounter his colorful abstract-and-figurative constructions which, individually and in the aggregate, reflect his sustained preoccupation with the struggles of the displaced and disenfranchised, surveillance and technology, and power structures and their manifestations across different spheres.

Jansen’s response to the foregoing concerns is informed by a series of profound life experiences. He mother is Jamaican; his father German. He spent his formative years in the Bronx and his adolescence in Germany. He was diagnosed and treated for PTSD after fighting in Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm in the first Iraq War. And after losing his first wife to cancer, he struggled as a single dad to two boys saddled with a mountain of medical bills while trying to establish himself as an artist with a story to tell. Jansen has emerged from these life events filled with a passion for universal human rights and improved societal conditions. Charged with a sense of empathy and a commitment to justice, his works are, not surprisingly, simultaneously emotional, introspective and intellectual.

Jansen had his first European solo museum exhibitions at La Triennale di Milano Museum, Milan and the Museum Zitadelle Berlin. He has participated in the 12th International Print and Drawing Biennial in Taiwan at the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Art. Works by Jansen are in collections of the Moscow Museum of Modern Art (MMOMA), The University of Michigan Museum of Art, The New Britain Museum of American Art, The Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, The National Taiwan Museum of Fine Art, The Housatonic Museum of Art and the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C.

In addition to his studio practice, Jansen is founder of the Marcus Jansen Foundation Fund in Fort Myers, which aims to serve veterans with PTSD and economically-disadvantaged children through enhanced cultural awareness of art and music.

The Baker Museum is one of the foremost fine art museums in Southwest Florida. Emphasizing modern and contemporary art, the museum hosts several traveling exhibitions annually to complement installations of works from its permanent collections. Dedicated to stewardship and scholarship, The Baker Museum provides world-class exhibitions and educational opportunities for Southwest Florida’s diverse community.

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Van Bergen, McNeil opine on Jansen’s ‘Two Decades of Relevance’

Marcus Jansen: Two Decades of Relevance opens tomorrow (April 24) at The Baker Museum, and Artis-Naples CEO and President Kathleen van Bergen and Museum Director and Chief Curator Courtney McNeil weighed in on the show.

“We are honored to be welcoming Marcus Jansen and his work to The Baker Museum, especially while celebrating the museum’s 20th anniversary,” van Bergen said of the impending show. “Marcus’ works are simultaneously emotional, introspective and intellectual, and he has built an international reputation for fully engaging the viewer in critical topics about our world.”

McNeil’s estimation of the significance of Jansen’s body of work is both interesting and spot-on. “Since the 1990s, Marcus Jansen has been creating powerful, painterly works of art that critically explore urgent topics, from industrial agriculture to the impacts of gentrification on city dwellers. He has experienced a meteoric rise over the past few years as art audiences in the United States and Europe have embraced artists with the ability to compellingly portray the issues and tensions that shape our lives in these challenging and complicated times. Jansen is not only sensitively attuned to the world around him, but he is also a dazzling practitioner of an expressive, gestural style of painting that arrests the viewer’s attention with its vibrancy and energy.”

“We have been thrilled to safely open our doors this season to the community, and we invite everyone to experience Marcus’ show,” van Bergen adds.

Additional information on the exhibition, related event, timed-entry tickets and details on The Baker Museum’s safety protocols (including face masks, social distancing and forehead temperature scans) is available at artisnaples.org

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Alliance’s June show, ‘Voices and Visions,’ celebrates inclusiveness

The Alliance for the Arts’ June exhibition, Voices and Visions, will be presented in partnership with Arts4All Florida, which provides support and champions arts education and cultural experiences for and by people with disabilities. The exhibition will feature adult artists of all abilities sharing their personal voice or statement through text and imagery as a means to celebrate inclusiveness.

The Alliance will host an online, virtual opening reception on June 6 at 6 p.m. via Zoom. The behind-the-scenes evening will feature a guided tour of the exhibit.

The reception is free to attend, although a $5 suggested donation keeps Alliance programming affordable and accessible. An RSVP is required at ArtInLee.org/Arts4AllOpening in order to obtain the access link.

The exhibition runs June 4 through June 26. For more information about the Alliance, visit ArtInLee.org or call 239-939-2787.

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DAAS’ May show is Junior Jimenez’s ‘Game of Life: Art During the Pandemic’

In May, DAAS CO-OP Art Gallery will present the art of Puerto Rican artist Junior Jimenez. Entitled Game of Life: Art During the Pandemic, the exhibition proposes iconography and symbolism that conveys the struggle for control during this past year.

Junior Jiménez was born on July 16, 1967 in Paterson, New Jersey to Puerto Rican parents. When he was four years old, his family moved to Camuy, a small town in north Puerto Rico. From early childhood, Junior was intrigued by the power of religious iconography, the symbolism found mostly in the Catholic Church but also visible in the Taíno and African cultures, which are part of Puerto Ricans’ DNA.

The island’s colonial architecture, Jimenez’s childhood passion for archeology, and future visual references from the pop culture of the 60s, ‘70s and ‘80s would come together and emerge as the defining influence on Junior’s body of work.

Jimenez also uses mixed media to express his ideas.

“As a mixed media artist, I always like to incorporate my own photographs into my pieces and develop them into a multilayered artistic statement,” expands. “Originally, I wanted to use portraits and photos of random people in the streets walking amid the invisible enemy. But going out and exposing myself to the virus was not an option. So for the main visuals, I decided to use my personal collection of vintage photo portraits from the 1800’s. The dead would have a chance to come back to life to warn us of the devastation that could follow in the wake of the pandemic.”

Jimenez attended the Universidad del Sagrado Corazón in San Juan, Puerto Rico and received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Kean University in New Jersey. His long career in the advertising world both as an art director and a creative became the launch pad for his future career in the visual arts.

The opening reception is scheduled for Friday, May 7, 2021 from 6:00 to 9:30 p.m. in conjunction with Fort Myers Art Walk. The exhibition will be on display through May 29, 2021.

DAAS CO-OP is also starting a series of classes hosted by published author Winslow E. Dixon, starting in May 2021. Topics include book publishing, selfcare and homeopathic home living, among others. For a class schedule and sign-up link, please visit www.daascoop.com/events.

DAAS CO-OP is located at 1815 Fowler Street, in the Butterfly Estates complex in Fort Myers, FL. The gallery’s temporary business hours are Wednesday to Sunday, from 10am to 3pm. More information about the venue and/or how to become a member can be found at daascoop.com or by calling 239-590-8645.

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SBDAC issues call for Artist Trading Card exhibit

The Davis Art Center has issued a Call to Artists for its August show, Carded: Miniature Masterpieces. The exhibition will feature artist trading cards or ATC, tiny (2.5 x 3.5 inches) original pieces of art created with the intention of swapping or trading with another artist. On the front of an ATC, an artist creates an original work to showcase their art. It can be a one-off, part of a series, or a limited edition. On the back, the artist puts their name, contact details, title of the ATC, number if it’s a limited edition, and sometimes the date it was created. The can be made in any medium and using any technique, whether it’s painting, drawing or collage.

ATCs date back to 1997 when M. Vanci Stirnemann, a Swiss artist, created 1200 cards by hand as part of an exhibit. On the last day, he invited others to create their own cards and trade with him during the closing reception. The movement took off and, today, there are ATC swaps in almost every major city around the world. There are also many online swaps.

The movement builds on different traditions, including miniature art, which has been in existence for centuries beginning with the illustrated manuscripts of scribes in the Far East and Europe prior to the 15th century. ATCs also reflect the influence of pop art, which features motifs taken from everyday life. In this regard, ATCs share an affinity with the Fluxus movement and with Robert Filliou’s notions of a “fête permanente,” a “création permanente” or an “eternal network.”

The origin of the modern trading card is associated with cigarette cards first issued by the US-based Allen and Ginter tobacco company in 1875.

Artist Ndola Pensy introduced the artist trading card idea to Southwest Florida in 2017 with great reception among artists of different mediums in the area. Carded: Miniature Masterpieces will be curated by Cesar Aguilera.

The deadline for submissions is July 24. There is no limit on the number of submissions.

Any medium, motif and theme is acceptable, but no prints or reproductions will be curated into the show (digital art excepted). Submit your good quality images to artbuzz66@gmail.com with your name, medium, and title of each piece.

The show exhibits August 6-26. Cards will not be for sale, but in the tradition of ATC events, there will be an optional trading part at the end of the show.

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Edison Ford issues Call to Artists for ‘Sustainable Concepts’ exhibition

Did you know that Henry Ford repurposed wooden crates used to transport material into floorboards in his automobiles? Or that Thomas Edison purified chemical solvents to be reused in the experiments he conducted in his Fort Myers laboratory trying to find a replacement for rubber? In this tradition, the Edison Ford Winter Estates has issued a Call to Artists for Sustainable Concepts, an exhibition of 2 and 3D works of art that will be displayed January 14 through May 29, 2022.

While the Green Movement was not popular during their lifetimes, Edison and Ford both recognized the importance of recycling and reusing materials. The deadline for submission is November 7, 2021. For information, please contact Tayelor Kakes at tkakes@edisonford.org.

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