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Sarasota Film Festival returns with in-person screenings

The virtual and in-person movie festival runs April 30 through May 9.

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After last year’s slate of virtual offerings, the Sarasota Film Festival will return with a hybrid format that will include more than three dozen in-person screenings and a street party during its 10 day run that begins Friday, April 30.

It’s a good feeling for Sarasota Film Festival president Mark Famiglio, who has worked on planning the event with his staff through the pandemic.  He says he's quite excited to work with local filmmakers and to have in-person movies again.

“I feel profoundly hopeful,” he said. “There's some great stuff that you have an opportunity to watch with your fellow citizens and talk about … there's nothing like sitting in a theater for the human experience and conversation.”

The entertainment will commence on April 30 with a screening of “Rita Moreno: Just A Girl Who Decided To Go For It,” the opening night documentary about the journey of the actress and performer with a rare EGOT status: she's won an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony award. Famiglio said Moreno has attended the festival in the past and that her story would be a good fit to kick off the festival. 

“Rita Moreno: Just A Girl Who Decided To Go For It,” the horror special “Centigrade,” the closing film “Dream Horse” and around a quarter of the festival’s 130-plus films will be screened in person at the CMX CinéBistro Siesta Key theater. Famiglio said that selection of in-person movies was picked to appeal to a wide audience. 

“We wanted things that we thought would be of broader interest,” he said. “We were selectively curating films we thought were provocative and then we try to select other films that would mediate those kind of thoughts and conclusions … the opening and closing films are more  family-oriented.”

The festival in the past has had an assortment of in-person parties and events that have seen all sorts of actors, directors and creative types attend. While that’s not entirely feasible in 2021, the festival will still have an outside street party in downtown Sarasota on May 7. It’s a slower but reassuring return to normalcy that makes Famiglio feel optimistic about the future. 

“It’s not like past years and it’s not like future years,” Famiglio said. “We’re transitioning … we’re doing what every arts group is trying to do.”



Harry Sayer

Harry Sayer is the Black Tie editor for the Observer. He is a graduate of the University of Central Florida and previously worked Black Tie for the Observer newspaper in Winter Park and Maitland. You can catch him at one of Sarasota's fundraisers and shindigs.

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