- September 21, 2015
Grab the tickets, grab the popcorn, and clear your calendars because the 2015 Sarasota Film Festival, April 10 through 19, has announced its complete film and event lineup. With the official theme of the festival being "The Hearts and Minds of Independent Film," preisdent of the festival Mark P. Famiglio and new director of programming Michael Dunaway welcomed the respective hearts and minds of Sarasota's indpeendent film community to the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens to announce this year's extensive and talented cinematic lineup.
"It's a privilege to reveal our program to you first," says Dunaway, looking out onto the garden full of avid filmgoers, students and donors. "It's the support of local students, press and donors that provides the very fuel for filmmakers and this festival." Dunaway passionately added that no matter how big the festival grows that he nor the festival wil forget the first name of the organization: Sarasota.
This appreciation and focus on the Saraosta homefront resonates at the core of this year's festival lineup, which will occur across town at the Regal Cinemas Hollywood 20 Theater, the Sarasota Opera, Florida Studio Theatre, the Sarasota Yacht Club, Michael's On East, the Starlite Room and the Ritz-Carlton Beach Club. Along with their traditional lineup of centerpiece, spotlight, competitive and open exhibition films, the festival will focus on films specifically about Florida and the issue of homlessness and poverty. "As we embark on the hearts and minds of independent film, we want to focus on our local filmmakers," says Dunaway. "The overall quality of local submissions has risen significantly. And we also wanted to highlight one of the, if not the most important, issue impacting Sarasota: homelessness."
The festival's "Florida on Film" series is comprised of eight feature-length and 23 short films focusing on the history, heritage and perspective of Florida. In addition, six films that focus on the social issue of poverty including the already announced opening night film "Time Out of Mind" directed by Over Moverman starring Richard Gere as a man descending into the plight of poverty. Along with the films, the festival will present the Sundance Institute Challenge, a collection of 14 short films assembled by the Sundance Institute and the Gates Foundation, which was presented at this year's Sundance Film Festival.
In keeping with the local angle, a special documentary "Newtown at 100: A Glimpse Through Our Eyes" will be presented at the Sarasota Opera House on April 16 at 7 p.m. Created by Booker High School students under the guide of the honorable Charles E. Williams and the festival's eudcation director Samuel Curtis, the film presents the history, present and possible future of Newton through their perspective.
Numerous directors and celebrities are scheduled and still rumored to arrrive at the festival's various events including Oren Moverman, Jane Seymour, Cloris Leachman, Ben Vereen, Blythe Danner, Tom Browne and Rachel Weisz.
Below are the centerpiece and spotlight narrative and documentary films of this year's movie extravaganza. For the complete listing of the over 200 films that will be shown at the festival, visit sarasotafilmfestival.com.
"The End of the Tour" Dir. by James Ponsoldt; Starring Jesse Eisenberg and Jason Segel: Based on the real story of novelist David Lipsky (played by Eisenberg) reporting for "Rolling Stone" magazine follows the late but acclaimed author David Foster Walace as he concludes his book tour for the book that catapulted him into the modern literary stratosphere: the mammoth "Infinite Jest." With both leads already receiving early buzz for their performances, especially Segel's unexpected turn as the mercurial Wallace, Ponsoldt seems to have another winning entry in a string of impressive features that include "The Spectacular Now," "Smashed" and "Off the Black."
"Brand: A Second Coming" Dir. by Ondi Timoner; Starring Russell Brand: The only filmmaker to win the prestigious Sundance Grand Jury Prize for her documentaries "Dig!" and "We Live in Public," Ondi Timoner now sets her camera on the surprising and ever-growing career of humorist, stand-up comedian, actor and, now, political commentator and social provocateur Russell Brand. Through his hilarious and hectic antics on and offstage, Brand's personal brand of protest displays the changing roles that entertainers can play in the age of social media as a powerful tool for change.
"Clouds of Sils Maria" Dir. by Olivier Assayas; Starring Juliette Binoche and Kristen Stewart: Aging, rivalry and acting come to the forefront in this drama about an accomplished actress at the height of her career (played by the incomprable Juliette Binoche) is asked to star in the revival of the play that luanched her career, however, this time her original role will be played by a younger up-and-coming actress (played by Kristen Stewart). Assayas, who directed the mini-series "Carlos" and film "Summer Hours," is a growing and influential voice in French cinema and leads this dynamic clash between Binoche and Stewart.
"Bereave" Dir. by Evangelos Giovanis and George Giovanis; Starring Malcolm McDowell, Jane Seymour and Keith Carradine: Garvey (played by McDowell) is fatally ill and has reached the bitter twilight of his life. After deciding how to face mortality and to die alone, he runs away from home on his 40th wedding anniversary to his wife Evelyn (played by Seymour). However, Evelyn goes missing and Garvey must find and save her.
"Results" Dir. by Andrew Bujalski; Starring Guy Pearce, Cobie Smulders, Kevin Corrigan, Giovanni Ribisi, Brooklyn Decker and Anthony Michael Hall: Over the past 13-odd years, director and screenwriter Andrew Bujalski has amassed a dynamic and diverse collection of films. Bujalski follows in the footsteps of "Funny Ha Ha," "Mutual Appreciation," "Beeswax," and critically-acclaimed "Computer Chess" with "Results." With a mainstream Hollywood cast in tow, the director tells teh story of two personal trainers (Pearce and Smulders) as their lives are upended by the behavior of a new, rich client in this romantic comedy.
"Love and Mercy" Dir. by Bill Pohlad; Starring Paul Dano, Elizabeth Banks, John Cusack and Paul Giamatti: It's the tale of two Beach Boys in this rock and roll bio-pic. Starring Paul Dano and John Cusack as the younger and older versions of Beach Boys founder and pop music wizard/genius Brian Wilson, the film depicts the gifted yet misunderstood musician as he leads the Beach Boys through their musical and cultural highs as Wilson descends into mental and nervous breakdowns and his befriending of controversial therapist Dr. Eugene Landy (played by Giamatti). This is Pohlad's first directorial effort since 1990 having spent his talents in the producers chair for such award-winning films like "Brokeback Mountain," "Into the Wild," "Food, Inc." "The Tree of Life," "12 Years a Slave" and "Wild."
"Iris" Dir. by Albert Maysles; Starring Iris Apfel: The worlds of documentary and cinema suffered a great loss when on March 5 the legendary documentary filmmaker Albert Maysles dies. Along with his younger brother David (who died in 1987), Maysles is a benchmark and giant in craft of documentary. Films like "Salesman," "Gimme Shelter" and "Grey Gardens" helped create the modern language of documentary film. "Iris," one of Maysles last films, focuses on New York City fashion icon, designer and socialite Iris Apfel. It is a love letter not only to Apfel but to American fashion and the exquisite jazz that is Apfel's dress and jewelry.
"Finders Keepers" Dir. by Bryan Carberry and J. Clay Tweel: Perhaps the festival's weirdest and quirkiest scheduled film, "Finders Keepers" tells the true story of the legal fued and unique small-town clash between John Wood and Shannon Whisnant. Wood lost his leg in an accident, and Whisnant found the appendage in a used grill he purchased at an auction. However, Wood has to sue Whisnant for his leg back because Whisnant wants to use the foot for media attention and publicity.
"Hot Type" Dir. by Barbara Kopple: From two-time-Academy Award-winning documentary director Barbara Kopple ("Harlan County U.S.A." and "American Dream") profiles the day-to-day pressures along with the immense history of the premiere progressive magazine of the United States: "The Nation." The magazine and political institution will celebrate its 150th anniversary this July, and Koppel disects its week-by-week production and editorial cycle as the magazine tackles the contentious arena of American politics and news.
"Cartel Land" Dir. by Matthew Heineman: This tense and in-depth documentary focuses on two camps of vigilantes on both sides of the Mexican-American border trying to take down the monstrous drug cartels. Heineman imbedded with the two anti-cartel militias located in Michoacán, Mexico and Arizona, respectively, and he received the Sundance Film Festival's cinematography and directing awards on his exploration of modern vigilantees and wild west lawlessness.