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'Calendar Girls' gets film festival off to sauntering start

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Posted at 6:36 AM, May 18, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-18 08:40:54-04

FORT MYERS, Fla. — "Little old ladies," they are not.

Florida's over-60s dance troupe "Calendar Girls" is the subject of a new documentary film that wowed critics at the Sundance Film Festival.

That film is now premiering this week at the Fort Myers Film Festival, which begins Wednesday.

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In the vein of the 2007 UK film "Young At Heart," which followed a group aged 50-85 singing pop songs to the delight of crowds across Great Britain, "Calendar Girls" follows the Southwest Florida-based dancers as they learn routines, perform, and deal with their domestic lives at the same time.

The filmmakers are Swedish duo Maria Loohufvud and Love Martinsen, and take what The Film Stage describes as a "sincere-but-playful" look at the team as they spend their spare time rehearsing, creating costumes, and dancing their hearts out.

Loohufvud and Martinsen will be at the film festival for a question-and-answer session after the 7 p.m. premiere showing.

Tickets start at $20 and can be purchased online or by calling (239) 333-1933.

Festival's starring role in community
2022 is the Fort Myers Film Festival's 12th year in operation. "Calendar Girls" is just one of 75 films being showcased, according to Eric Raddatz, founder/executive director of the festival.

"These are films not yet in distribution; they are fresh, they are indie," said Raddatz. "We have a reputation for supporting independent filmmakers here in Southwest Florida and we are happy to have many films that were shot here in Florida."

The film festival will bring an expected bump to the local economy, with thousands planning to travel to the Southwest Florida area to attend. It is credited with promoting an artistic renaissance of sorts in the Fort Myers area.

"When people see that not only do we have the beaches but the arts and culture ... it adds to the demographic of an affluent market who understands the importance of the arts," said Raddatz.