Just when you thought it couldn’t get any better this time of year in Sarasota, the Sarasota Film Festival rolls into town. For 10 glorious days and nights, our little piece of paradise reels and rocks. With more than 100 filmmakers and actors attending this year, elbow-rubbing is a distinct possibility. With more than 180 narrative, documentary, feature and short films, we cinephiles are in for 10 days of movie nirvana.
Having attended all 13 festivals, I’m offering up some picks and tips for navigating this year’s SFF. Mandatory prerequisite: Acquire a film guide ASAP (available at the festival box office inside the lobby of Hollywood 20 or online). In it you will find dates, times and synopses for all of the films and events. My SFF must-see-and-do list is as follows.
Opening Night Film and Party
The film, “Page One: A Year Inside The New York Times,” will be screened Friday, April 8, at the historic Sarasota Opera House. Director Andrew Rossi provides a look at what happens behind the scenes at the New York Times as he follows Media Desk reporters David Carr and Brian Stelter. Après film party at Michael’s On East is way past my bedtime but always a blast.
Night Under a Thousand Stars — Beach Edition
Speaking of parties, this one on Friday, April 15 looks like the hottest ticket in town. The locale itself is as dreamy as it gets. The Ritz-Carlton Members Beach Club will host a gala fête replete with live music and casual cuisine. Does it get any better? But of course ... fireworks over the Gulf of Mexico.
‘In Conversation With ... ’
Geena Davis (April 16) and Christopher Plummer (April 17) will open up about their careers and lives this year in one of my favorite SFF programs. Both actors also star in films being screened at the festival. Christopher Plummer’s “Beginners” has been selected for the “Closing Night Film.” Geena Davis’ film is also part of the series “Through Women’s Eyes,” entitled, “Miss Representation.” Also scheduled is “Censorship and Cinema: The Legacy of the Hollywood Blacklist.” It will feature industry professionals discussing the topic.
Biggest Bang for Your Buck
Catch the “Shorts.” Narrative, documentary, animated, midnight and our own not-to-be-missed SRQ shorts take you so many places in so little time.
The Terry Porter Visionary Award
I was elated to learn that the festival will be honoring this amazing man whose passion for cinema was infectious. His groundbreaking Video Renaissance was the only place to obtain the greatest films ever made. Before IMDB, Terry Porter was the guy to call with all your film queries. He had all the answers and was always available. His love of movies fueled mine.
Catch as many films as you possibly can which have a Q&A after the screening. To me, this is the very best a film festival has to offer. Having the opportunity to talk with the filmmakers and stars is extremely exhilarating. If you’re really lucky you might have a one-on-one after the Q&A (did I ever mention Jeremy Renner two years ago!).
Keep in mind when you support the Sarasota Film Festival (a non-profit arts organization) you’re supporting our community. I can’t think of a more exciting and rewarding way to do so. Any questions? Call the box office at 366-6200.