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For the opening night of Naples International Film Festival, red carpet was rolled out

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Red carpet rolled out for Naples International Film Festival opening night

The Naples International Film Festival rolled out its red carpet for the return of the traditional opening night — indoors in Hayes Hall at Artis—Naples — and the partiers trooped in Thursday. 

The festival opening night may be the closest thing Naples has to a Metropolitan Museum of Art gala, and the fashionistas were in force, with everything from lace capes and spatter blazers to headwear like fascinators and outback hats. 

There were five films, celebrating “The Art of the Short” in a celebration. (The festival continues through Sunday; for information see artisnaples.org)  But in the social hour before and the moonlight parties afterward, clothes encounters heightened the attraction. 

Ella Howard came in what may have been the evening’s richest blend of prints in a flounce-skirt frock from London-based designer Mary Katrantzou and glittering green chandelier earrings to set it off. It’s a runway-style dress, she said. “If you Google her, you will see this dress on the runway.”

Personal stylist Sarah LaMont, on the other hand, was more attuned to the cut: Her outfit was a triple-print Zara with an asymmetrical top that allowed a flash of midriff over its long ruched skirt. 

The WhyStyle owner, Erica Thebaud, said that she saved the dress for the event, stating, “It’s my favourite dress event of the year in Naples.” LaMont however was there as one the festival’s loyalest fans.

Ocean Summer, a filmmaker, poses for a portrait on the opening night of the Naples International Film Festival, Thursday, Oct. 21, 2021, at Artis—Naples in Naples, Fla.

Ellen Goldberg was the one who started every festival. It’s a great honor to support local women. 

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The bold ties and geometric prints on men were a strong fashion statement. Robert Nardi took his style to the next level with an elegant Stefano Ricci tie, and Roberto Cavalli jacket featuring swaths of charcoal spatters.

He stated, “He does not make a lot of money for men.” 

Jonn Gann, the producer of

Thursday’s absence was due to the protective masks, which were almost ubiquitous in the aftermath of the pandemic. Staff members accounted for the majority of those who wore them Thursday. The artisnaples.org website has a full policy.

Some filmmakers had brought their own unique style to the event. Cheri Gaulke, director for the short documentary, “Miss Alma Thomas: A Life in Color,” was living her own life in color: pink-and-blue specs, dangling black pompon earrings and a fuchsia top knot. On Thursday, she was also getting to know Jon Gann her producer; they hadn’t actually met before this film festival. 

Gann stated that “we made the entire movie via Facetime and text message and email.” When she went to direct the subjects — which I was in DC with, and the interview crew — she was on this big iPad so they could see her face. She was nowhere to be found.

Gaulke had used an iMax that tracked the cinematographers’ views, and conducted her interviews over an iPad.

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It was strange because it felt like we were all in the same place. She said that it felt as if I were talking to someone in a room, but they were in another room.

“It’s beautiful,” she said of the finished product. “It’s not a Zoom piece at all. This was shot by professional filmmakers. The film crew shot the footage in many beautiful places in Washington D.C. They sent it back to me, and I simply cut it. 

“You’d never know it was done remotely.”

Before the pandemic, Gann had managed film festivals himself, and he was happy to be at this one.

“This is the first in-person film festival I’ve been to in two years, since the lockdown,” he said. “I’ve been to a few hybrid events, very small attendance, so to be at a real opening night with a huge crowd and Champagne in your hand – we’re coming back! It’s great.”

Robin Hauser was the director at “$avvy” and he agreed.

It’s my fourth year at the Naples film festival. Also, I consider myself a veteran. She said it was a favourite. They make filmmakers their number one priority. They are the No. 1 priority.

Also, Naples has a huge audience. There are people who love film, who love the arts, who are willing to donate to Artis—Naples, and even before that, the Naples International Film Festival — people who are willing to come out and support filmmakers. It makes a huge difference. “

Hauser’s film, which will be screened at 11 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 23, and 1:45 p.m. Sunday, October 24, came from her own experience after a divorce. She found she had no 401(k), no idea how  to save for retirement and no help from her friends, who were reluctant to talk about money.

Artis—Naples photographed on the opening night of the Naples International Film Festival, Thursday, Oct. 21, 2021, in Naples, Fla.

Hauser was astonished to discover that these friends were people he had known since kindergarten. Talking about money was taboo for me. It has to be changed.

Renee Bitonte and Dana Demarr, having lost their table when they got up to get a drink, had parked themselves on a step to watch arrivals getting the star treatment with photographers and red carpet entrance. Although they both attend closing night, the Thursday opening had begun to win their hearts.

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Demarr came in the first time with a silk top made from tangerine and gold threads. This was a gift from my daughter three years ago. “I have never worn it until tonight.” she stated. 

Bitonte said, “I love it.” “The people that are there is amazing.”

Shaun and Lois Higgins also were people-watching, relaxing in east lobby window seats with  Artis—Naples-supplied popcorn and flutes of Champagne. They have made it a regular event for three years.

We’ve lived in New York. We’ve lived in London And in Naples, on (a scale of )1 to 10, it’s a 13,” Shaun Higgins said. “We absolutely enjoy it.”

Harriet Howard Heithaus writes about arts and entertainment at the Naples Daily News/naplesnews.com. Contact her at (239-213-6091).

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