Two Oscar-winning animated films will highlight the fifth annual Punta Gorda Short Film Festival, to be held at 7 p.m. March 6 at the Charlotte Harbor Event & Conference Center, 75 Taylor Road, Punta Gorda.

“Bear Story,” a Chilean film about a man imprisoned for two years and then forced to live in exile after the Chilean coup d’etat, won the Academy Award for best animated short film in 2017.

“Dear Basketball” is a visualization of the letter written by NBA star Kobe Bryant to the Players’ Tribune announcing his retirement in 2015. It’s narrated by Bryant, scored by John Williams and animated by Glen Keane. It won best animated short in 2018.

“It is wonderful,” said Nan Leonard, the festival’s executive producer. “I’m very excited to have two Academy Award-winning shorts in our show.”

Organizers say the Punta Gorda Short Film Festival combines award-winning films from past years with new international festival honorees. The combination creates a rare opportunity for audiences to see world-class shorts on a real cinema screen rather than YouTube, computers or smart phones.

“Four years ago, the Punta Gorda Short Film Festival was born and has continually sold out every year,” Leonard said. “People sit down and they start laughing, and they get into it, and a month and a half later, they’re still talking about it.

“People stop me in town and say, Oh, Nan, this one or that one was my favorite. The day after the show last year, a woman called asking if we had the date set for our 2019 show because her friend wanted to plan her vacation around our event.

“I’m so thrilled that this community has embraced this event. It’s very gratifying.”

The festival’s lineup also includes “Alternative Math,” from Dallas-based director David Maddox. In this comedy, a dedicated public grammar school teacher has a tough time with new attitudes in education, and her stubbornness to defend her subjects leads to a riot and a national debate.

Another selection is “Pickle,” director by Amy Nicholson of New York. The documentary examines the complicated relationships humans have with their pets in a film of unexpected warmth and mirth.

John Wright, president of the Punta Gorda Chamber of Commerce, will again MC the event.


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