The Bradenton Arts Movieville Film Festival (BAMFF) kicked off with a bang and a blaze at last night’s party in the secluded Powel Crosley Estate. Rock and country icon Rick Derringer was in attendance and received a lifetime achievement award presented by the festival’s executive producer Susan Short and a special dedicatory fire-dance set to one of his many hits.
Produced as a joint-effort between Bradenton Area Film Commission and the Movieville International Film Festival, and with support from Feld Entertainment among others, the atmosphere was one of possibility, as cultural and business leaders met to discuss not only the films they wanted to see, but the future for Bradenton this inaugural festival represents.
“It gives our community an opportunity to showcase the film industry and music industry, not only to our residents but to our visitors as well,” said Elliott Falcione, executive director for the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. “It’s important that the business community support initiatives like this so we can continue to grow, and what it will do is expose the beautiful assets of this community to the marketplace.”
Film can be a driving force for all sorts of community businesses, in addition to its cultural value. The bus-stop bench made famous in Forrest Gump gave tourism in Savannah, Georgia a significant bump, as Field of Dreams did for Iowa, according to Falcione.
“Thousands and thousands of people have gone to that cornfield in Iowa just because of that movie,” said Falcione. “That just gives you a taste of what the film industry can do for a community.”
With 25 films and shorts, showcasing many local artists including students from State College of Florida, as well as a musical aspect with a concert May 10 featuring Rick Derringer, George Wallace Jr., and The Billy Rice Band, BAM! promises to deliver a diverse array with both international and community flavor. Festival officials are already in talks with a contingency of Milanese artists, with the possibility of showing the films there as well and developing a “sister-city” relationship.
Mark Rodgers, curator for the visiting Da Vinci exhibit currently in the South Florida Museum that will play host to the closing night festivities, was “blown away” by the event and Bradenton in general.
“We’re just so excited to be a part of it,” said Rodgers. “Since we’ve been [in Bradenton], we have actually been at the top of our creative output. I’ve never been in a city where everybody is working so hard to make all of this incredible stuff happen.”