During the past 11 years, the Sarasota Film Festival has most certainly evolved. But, this year, it surpassed all expectations. For 10 terrific days, superstar power, electrifying events and fabulous films morphed Sarasota into its very own Tinseltown. It was the biggest and best fest to date.
The opening night film and dessert soiree set a record for ticket sales. Could it be that the presence of dapper Oscar-winner Kevin Kline had something to do with it? If you missed his hilarious film, “The Extra Man,” look for it in theaters this July. Kline, along with Patricia Clarkson, Don Hahn and Vincent D’Onofrio shared experiences and expertise in the highly acclaimed series, “In Conversation With ... ” It doesn’t get much better than that.
One of the most important programs the Sarasota Film Festival promotes is the Outreach and Education Department, which provides inspiration and education to students at no cost. This year, for the first time, they partnered with the Warren BackPack Program, which aims to end hunger for children by picking up where government programs leave off. The partnership has been so successful, it will continue into next year. Now that deserves applause!
And, speaking of applause, this year’s lineup of 168 films from 30 countries was definitely worthy of a big round. From riveting documentaries to highly entertaining narratives, I did not see a film I didn’t like. Especially exciting were the 30 films made here in our own backyard entitled, “Views from the Sunshine State: Sarasota & Florida Filmmakers.” The party celebrating their tremendous work, “Cinema Tropicale,” (held at the stunning new Sarasota Yacht Club) was a hot ticket.
All things considered, this year’s Sarasota Film Festival soared on so many levels. Some fresh faces, new programs and the ever-solid commitment of supporting independent films were instrumental in achieving such heights. I always feel proud this time of year to live in a community that supports this important event, and I’m looking forward to SFF 2011.
— Pam Nadon
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