NAPLES — The nominee for “Best Academy Award Viewing Party” went to the Naples International Film Festival for Sunday night’s red carpet fete.
Over 100 movie lovers gathered at the Naples Hilton for the annual fundraiser, which helps support the 501 (c) 3 organization’s November film showcase, as well as their community outreach programs.
Taking a page from their Los Angeles counterparts, guests at the gala dressed in their Oscar best. From dapper suits and shimmery cocktail rings to Louboutin heels and of-the-moment frocks, everyone came ready to strut down the red carpet and pause for photos at the step-and-repeat wall.
As cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, and a three course dinner were elegantly served, partygoers perused a silent auction table offering a bevy of opulent items up for bid. Popular lots included premium seats at the Naples Opera, a staycation at the Ritz Carleton, and tickets to the coveted Naples International Film Festival Filmmaker’s Dinner.
Around the room screens were set up, including one giant projection screen, ensuring no one missed a moment of the annual award show. The decorations, headed up by event planner PJ Fuerstman Meyer, reflected the glitz and glam of the Oscars, with whimsical plumes of white feathers topping each table, and a lounge area bedecked with white leather sofas, and lux zebra print pillows transforming the front of the ballroom.
During commercial breaks the crowd was treated to raffle drawings with covet-worthy prizes like personal training sessions from Pete Murphy and a gift certificate for golf and lunch at Cypress Woods golf course. Meanwhile, movie buffs tested their knowledge with an Oscar balloting game. Costing just $10 to play, players had to pick the correct winners for 24 different categories. With a cash prize to the person whose ballot most resembled the Academy’s, heads were bent over game cards in concentration, trying to predict the winners for Best Sound Mixing, Best Documentary Short and of course, Best Picture.
One of the highlights of the night came when the award for Best Live Action Short Film was announced. “God of Love,” one of the five films up for the title, was a film showcased at this past November’s festival. The room fell silent as the envelope was opened, then roared with approval when “God of Love” took the win.
“The last two years we’ve had films we screened at the Naples International Film Festival win Oscars, so I’m glad we had one this year too,” exclaimed executive director Shannon Franklin. “It validates that we’re picking films for the festival well,” she added.
Many guests lingered until the end of the three-plus hour-long award presentation was over, lingering over coffee and conversation as the honors were handed out, and proving the night a success for the Naples International Film Festival.