FORT MYERS BEACH, Fla. (April 27, 2014) –Filmmakers who traveled to Fort Myers Beach from all over the country gathered at Beach Theater to accept awards and share congratulations with colleagues for their work on independent films screened during the Eighth Annual Fort Myers Beach Film Festival.

The Fort Myers Beach Film Festival committee recognizes local residents who submit films to the festival with the Islander Award going to “I Love You Now Die,” directed and written by Mark Stolzenberg.  The cast included Annette Silva, Chris Cannan, John Diaz, Jon Cross, Mark Stolzenberg, and Suzanne Froix. Accepting the award was Fort Myers Beach resident Judy Copeland, one of the producers.

“No matter where you are in life, no matter how old you are, it’s never too late to follow your dreams,” said Copeland. “It was Elizabeth D’Onofrio who encouraged me to get back in the business after I’d been out of it for more than 20 years, plus encouragement from my husband Mark Schulman, our executive producer.”

The Best Local Film was “Job,” directed by Bryan F. Davis. Writers were Bryan F. Davis and Jennifer Keister.  The cast included Amit Roy, Debbie Jordan, Jennifer Keister, Kaymen Lackey, Martin Lemaire, and Matthew D. Perez. The Best Student Film was “The Violinist,” directed and written by Pablo Nicolas Raganato. The cast members were David Petitone, Ralph Edward, and Sean Pursell. In the category of Best Short Film, the winner is “Posthumous,” directed by Noah DeBonis and written by Luke Fronefield and Margaret Cardillo. The cast included Ike Seamans, Keana Marie, Peter Haig, Richard Haylor, Sarahi Diaz, Sydney Rouviere, and Terrance Murphy.

The winning filmmaker of the Best Documentary was Stanley Isaacs for “Tough Ain’t Enough: Conversations With Albert S. Ruddy,” directed by Lee Anthony Smith and Gregory J. Bradley. Isaacs also won this year’s Star Achievement Award. Writing and producing since 1979. In the late ‘80s Isaacs co-created the TV holiday perennial “It Nearly Wasn’t Christmas,” co-wrote Touchstone Pictures “Gross Anatomy” and served as special consultant to the producers on “Beyond The Stars.” After producing and co-writing “Last Gasp” in 1994, Isaacs formed 360 Entertainment in 1995, an independent production company in which Isaacs served as CFO with producing partners, Robert Patrick and Scott McGinnis. The partnership created and produced two films: “Ravager” and “Within the Rock.” Isaacs founded 100% Entertainment, Inc., an independent production company in 1998. Isaacs has initiated, developed and produced numerous film and television projects including “Megalodon” in 2002, which Isaacs co-wrote and produced and “Tough Ain’t Enough: Conversations With Albert S. Ruddy” released in 2013. The company currently has three features and two television pilots in development.

Best Feature Film was awarded to “A Short History of Decay,” directed and written by Michael Maren. Cast members included Bryan Greenberg, Linda Lavin, Harris Yulin, and Benjamin King.

The Fort Myers Beach Film Festival also recognizes the best actor among the films screened this year. The award in this category goes to Paul Sorvino, who starred in the festival’s indie screening of “Last I Heard.” The tall, dark and imposing Italian-American actor, Paul Sorvino originally had his heart set on a life as an opera singer, but has made a solid career of portraying authority figures. He is best known for his role in “Goodfellas.”

Actor Tara Cardinal also a filmmaker whose film, Legend of the Red Reaper screened at the festival, was named this year’s Rising Star Award winner. Canadian-born Cardinal led her college’s theater club until she graduated with a degree in Psychology on a full scholarship and knew she would pursue a career in the movie business.  In fact, she landed the female lead in Warner Brother’s “Delivery,” a horror film in 2006 followed by other offers including performing as a man honing her improvisational skills at the Florida Renaissance Festival.

Cardinal says she was inspired by industry greats like Stan Lee, George Lucas, Jackie Chan and Sylvester Stallone, and created her film, “Legend of the Red Reaper,” to share a message about female empowerment.  As she accepted her award, she said, “Fort Myers Beach is so special to me. After encouragement from Elizabeth D’Onofrio, I went to Los Angeles to pursue a career in film. I’ve come full circle by returning here to screen my own film at this wonderful festival.”

Cardinal became one of the first women to write, produce, direct and star in a fantasy action franchise and continues to accept empowering roles in movies of all genres. In her spare time she gathers celebrities for charity events benefiting children, animals and disaster victims.  Cardinal currently resides in Hollywood, California.

The final award for the evening came from audience ballots asking for their favorite film. The winner of the People’s Choice Award is “Pink Gold Rush,” the celebrated local documentary about the shrimp industry in Fort Myers Beach. The documentary was written by Chelle Koster Walton and produced by Barbara Linstrom, Executive Producer of Television and New Media for WGCU Public Media.

“Getting this award is just another sign that this production really resonated with our community,” said Linstrom. “We also had one of the highest ratings ever for the television airing of the film last Thursday. Thanks so much to the film festival for showcasing our film. We appreciate the acceptance and praise for our film, especially in social media. We really wanted to get it right and we are overwhelmed with the response.” She added,

“Pink Shell Beach Resort and Marina called, apparently after the hotel’s management saw the film. They told the staff that they want to start serving local shrimp and to use this to educate tourists about the shrimp industry here and how to compare the products harvested locally.”

For more information, visit the website at for the Ninth Annual Fort Myers Beach Film Festival were announced as April 22-26, 2015.

CONTACT: Janeen Paulauskis
Ft. Myers Beach Film Festival
(239) 980-4381 or 
Cindy Dobyns/AboveWater PR
(239) 596-9149

[email protected]