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Naples International Film Fest pivots from Pez fantasy to pterodactyls in ‘Jurassic Park’

Opening: butterflies. Closing: dinosaurs with a bad attitude.

The 2022 Naples International Film Festival offers a full-court press of diversity this year, racing from a valentine for New Orleans’ rich musical heritage to hot Pez-suit of a career smuggling elusive models of Austrian candy dispensers into the US

Post-Ian, Southwest Florida filmlovers will be happy to know water does not figure largely in most of these films; instead, the desert does, in tales such as “The Big Bend,” following a prickly family reunion in remote West Texas.

Ian has changed the horizon, if not the festival itself: It canceled the Sept. 29 previews party offering patrons and film lovers trailers of the cinema to come. But Artist—Naples, the organization behind the festival, determined it should continue, despite the heavy damage inflicted on both Collier and Lee counties Sept. 28.

Other entertainment: Artist—Naples announces rest of its 2022-23 season

AND: Myra Daniels, the ‘force of nature’ behind Artist—Naples, gets tribute

A news release quoting CEO and President Kathleen van Bergen emphasized the arts’ healing potential:

“We recognize the restorative power of the arts and the role of our mission to help our community recover. In the upcoming weeks and months, we will continue presenting visual and performing arts programming — including NIFF — that we hope will bring solace, inspiration and even laughter to our community.”

From more than 800 entries, film viewers and Artis—Naples staff have culled 64 films — 13 narrative features, nine documentary features and 42 short films — from 17 countries. All screenings will be at Hayes Hall, Norris Garden or Silverspot Cinema.

The premiere event is its red carpet opening night, featuring a screening of Bradford Thomason’s and Brett Whitcomb’s documentary, “Butterfly in the Sky,” at 7 pm unfurling the story of “Reading Rainbow” host LeVar Burton and his contradictory challenge: to promote reading by getting kids to watch TV. Several of the filmmakers will attend.

Just before that, the red carpet unfurls for Artis—Naples’ best people-watching reception of the year, a veritable centerpiece of sartorial splendor among the, starting at 6 pm The pièce de résistance: This cocktail party features popcorn and movie candy.

“Shudderbugs,” among the narrative films of the Naples International Film Festival, follows a woman who unravels in the wake of her mother’s mysterious death, following her suspicions to dangerous ends.

This year’s film festival has continued a tradition born of necessity during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020: Outdoor events. “Screenings Under the Stars” will bring bistro-style seating, with the opportunity for refreshments, to Norris Garden between Hayes Hall and The Baker Museum, with tickets for two at $30 and tables for four at $60:

  • “The Pez Outlaw,” 7:30 pm Friday, Oct. 28. Its story line, previously mentioned, comes from a pair of independent producer-directors, Amy Bandlien Storkel and Bryan Storkel, who mined a tale of whacked out capitalism with elements of fantasy. Both will here for its Florida premiere. A second showing, at 11:45 am Saturday, Oct. 29, is at Silverspot Cinema ($15).

  • “MVP,” 7:30 pm Saturday, Oct. 29. This story develops the bonding between a war vet with post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD) and a retired NFL player that allows them to surmount some major challenges in their lives. Star and director Nate Boyer has played both — Green Beret and NFL player — in real life. There’s more star power here, with Sylvester Stallone (the “Rocky” movie series) as producer. A second showing, at 11 am Sunday, Oct. 30, is at Silverspot Cinema ($15).

The closing night begins at Artis—Naples with an awards party and presentation at 5:30 pm ($79 and up, including the film) Sunday, Oct. 30. Then it gets dramatic, with a showing of Steven Spielberg’s science fiction thriller, “Jurassic Park” ($35-$65).

The mood intensifies with a live performance of John Williams’ score by the Naples Philharmonic and Jack Everly, principal pops conductor.

All other films are at Silverspot Cinema, 9118 Strada Place, No. 8205, Naples. Three days of films include narratives, documentaries, short subjects, student work and discussions with Elaine Newton, Artis—Naples resident film critic. Among the topics: getting films made in Florida, the adventure of making a film at 10 am Friday and Saturday, Oct. 28 and 29, respectively. Tickets for both are free but must be reserved.

Descriptions of all films and discussions, along with ticket information, are on the Artist—Naples website:

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

This article originally appeared on Naples Daily News: Naples International Film Fest: What to know about event this month

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