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Chicago tribute gets Beach film festival off to rocking start

By Staff | Apr 20, 2016

Tom and Martie Schultz saw their beloved music group Chicago last fall in San Diego. On New Year’s Eve, when the band played in its hometown, it was a no-brainer that they were there. Last month, in Milwaukee, they were rocking out in the crowd once again.

“We’re just huge fans,” said Martie Schultz who, with her husband, Tom, lives on Estero Island’s south end. “And so are our kids – they grew up listening to it because that’s what we played.

“We try to always sit up close for the shows, and when the band members see our kids singing every lyric and knowing every note, they’re just blown away. They’ve brought us backstage several times and they love the fact they reach different generations.”

So, when Tom Schultz just happened to check out Chicago’s Facebook page Tuesday morning and read about a Chicago tribute film playing in his own back yard, well he too was just blown away.

“I couldn’t believe it,” he said. “Needless to say, we just had to be here.”

It wasn’t Saturday in the park, as Chicago so famously said, but Tuesday at the marina did just fine for the super fans.

“This is just a great setting and I can’t wait for the show,” Tom Schultz said as he relaxed at a pre-show party at Fish-Tale Marina, home to the event.

The couple was among an audience that enjoyed the screening of the “rock-umentary” entitled “Now More Than Ever: the History of Chicago.” It was part of a special event celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Fort Myers Beach Film Festival, which beyond the Chicago film (which plays again at 8:30 p.m. Saturday) will showcase as many as 45 independent films. It will also hold its traditional giant-screen beachfront show at dusk Friday night, this year featuring Disney PIXAR’s “Inside Out,” at the Outrigger Beach Resort.

“How wonderful that people can have an idea and make it into reality,” said festival chairwoman Carla Mandel during her opening remarks in regard to the opportunities the event creates.

It’s partly the result of the efforts put forth by festival founder Delores Yost, who passed away in February. Mandel paid tribute to her memory.

“None of this could have happened without her,” Mandel said.

She also spoke of the great variety offered on this year’s slate.

“We have films that are retrospective and we have films that are a glimpse into the future,” Mandel said.

The Chicago film actually covers both concepts, considering the band is still touring and is approaching its 50th year. Starting in 1967 as the Chicago Transit Authority, the band ranks only second to the Beach Boys in chart success for an American act, and on April 8 was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

On hand Tuesday, via Los Angeles, was its director, Peter Pardini. His inside look at the band is intimate indeed, as his uncle, Lou Pardini, is a member.

So, why Fort Myers Beach for a screening?

“Well, we were invited,” said Pardini, whose evening included an interview with Fish-Tale Radio for its podcast. “And I like a setting like this, where the people aren’t coming out because maybe there will be a celebrity or a lot of fanfare. Here, the movie is all that matters so you get an unbiased perspective. And I like the smaller venue, where the people can truly concentrate on the film.”

The reaction has been positive, as it recently took “Best of Fest” honors at the Sedona (Ariz.) International Film Festival, where the band played live, and a couple of weeks ago finished second in a category at the Sarasota Film Festival.

On Tuesday, if the foot-tapping of Tom and Martie Schultz was any indication, it fared well again.