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Cinema stages premiere for ‘Sandbars To Sanibel’

By Staff | Oct 21, 2009

On Sunday, Island Cinema hosted what many islanders are calling “the closest thing to a Hollywood premiere Sanibel has ever seen,” the debut screening of “Sandbars To Sanibel.”

Outside of the theater, many members of the film’s cast – dressed in period costumes like they wore in the movie – mingled with patrons prior to the matinee screening. According to producer/director Rusty Farst, both of the twin cinemas were filled to capacity as the movie was shown simultaneously.

“It was a red carpet black tie affair, with the ladies dressed in Hollywood-style,” said Farst. “The women’s shoes were over the top, and many of the men even shaved for the event!”

On the red carpet, “celebrity interviews” were conducted by Salli Kirkland and Vanessa Flynt. The stars of the movie also placed their hand and feet into wet cement, evoking thoughts of the traditional premiere activity at Mann’s Chinese Theater in Tinseltown.

Set in 1929, the plot of “Sandbars To Sanibel” involves the island’s mail girl, who drenches the mailbag and the whole town fondles a water soaked letter trying desperately to find the recipient, resisting the temptation to read its contents. A love affair ignites, a schoolhouse goes berserk and a small village eventually becomes reunited.

Written by Jody Brown, the film is an affectionate look at Sanibel history was conceived by Sam Bailey. It was shot on-location at the Sanibel Historical Village & Museum as well as at the Sanibel Lighthouse, with characters portrayed by local actors and actresses.

In addition to the movie premiere, Sunday’s screening included “Pioneering An Island,” a bonus featurette containing footage from the early 1930’s that shows local farming and swarms of fiddler crabs on the beach, the Bailey boys as youngsters at the Community House along with aerial footage from the 1950’s of the Sanibel Lighthouse, San-Cap Road and the old schoolhouse.

The highlight of the afterglow party, held at Biddles Bucket, was the necklace raffle from Lily & Company. They donated a hand-crafted Marya Dabrowski original design featuring 14kt. gold and sterling silver with a fantasy-cut blue topaz center stone valued at $1,195.

“I was absolutely delighted,” said Mary McBride, winner of the raffle. “I kinda felt lucky. I just had this feeling like I was going to win. My husband did, too, but we just didn’t say anything about it.”

Still abuzz from the successful debut of his film, Farst is hoping to stage something even bigger in the future.

“A current dream of mine, as a 30-year island resident and filmmaker, is to support the Town Center Vision of Sanibel with the creation of a Sanibel Film Festival,” he said. “A long weekend event that would include all our city’s restaurants and businesses. This community is displaying overwhelming support for just these kinds of events. They are fun, exciting and connect us all. We deserve to recapture our dream for an Island Hometown USA.”

For those of you who weren’t able to attend the world premiere, a second screening of “Sandbars To Sanibel” has been planned for Thursday, Nov. 12 at 7 p.m. It will be held at BIG Arts, located at 900 Dunlop Road.

Like the Oct. 18 screening, a red carpet gala will be held prior to the movie, again with the cast dressed in their vintage wardrobe. The event will also be catered by Bailey’s General Store.

Tickets are just $7 each and may be purchased by calling BIG Arts at 395-0900 or sending an e-mail to JawsProductions@comcast.net.

Also on Nov. 12, DVD copies of “Sandbars To Sanibel” will be available for purchase at BIG Arts for $10. The following day, it will go on sale throughout the island at various locations.

“As the film’s producer, I was absolutely on top of the world,” Farst said of the initial screening. “I would like to thank all the supporters for our film’s premiere, and especially Randy and Kim Bacik for sharing the Island Cinema and their staff with all of us.”

“Congratulations on your phenomenal success!” Kim Bacik said in an e-mail to Farst on Monday. “We look forward to hosting many more in the future.”

Hopefully, Farst’s dream will come true… just as it often does in Hollywood.