The opening night of the 14th annual Sarasota Film Festival took place on Friday April 13, 2012 at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall. The opening night film, Robot and Frank, starring Frank Langella, Susan Sarandon, James Marsden, Liv Tyler, Jeremy Strong, Peter Sarsgaard, (robot voice) and directed by Jake Schreier decidedly struck a chord with the audience. A seemingly believable Sci-Fi film set in the not too distant future, Robot and Frank delivered a full range of plausibility, comedy, sentimentality, reality, surprise, hope and empathy. The movie depicts an aging, lifelong, “ex-thief” living alone but most definitely in need of true physical and emotional support. Frank, presented with a caretaker robot by his son as a solution to his physical needs, at first rejects the seemingly farfetched idea. However the robot is persistent in its mission and an engaging emotional relationship develops between the two.
The movie explores the effects of aging, the relationship between man and machine, family dynamics in caring for the elderly, and the potential impact of technology on society. Although thematically serious, the movie was sprightly and sprinkled with many memorable and comedic lines. Working with a small budget, the director, Jake Schreier, did a superlative job attracting A-list talent to deliver his first feature film.
Sarasota Film Festival Opening Night After Party
Immediately following the Q & A discussion on Robot and Frank, a robotic themed Opening Night Afterparty kicked off. Taking place in the Van Wezel’s Grand Foyer with 2 large screens showing music videos, pulsating lights, dance floor, 6 bars, (4 inside, 2 outside) food stations with boxes of pad thai, passed skewers of beef, crostini, cheese and crackers, and lollicakes by Sift Bakehouse; audience, film festival staff and sponsors celebrated the launch of Sarasota’s 14th Annual Film Festival. Of course the celebration was all the better due to the warm reception of Robot and Frank. In speaking with a number of attendees from inside and outside the entertainment industry, it was clear the film is a winner.
If the opening night is any indication of what the rest of this week will be, the 2012 Sarasota Film Festival will be very sweet!