The 21st annual festival will offer everything from local titles (such as a circus documentary) to a national premiere (Greg Kinnear’s 'Phil').
Sarasota Film Festival began festivities early March 19.
The festival, which runs April 5-14, kicked off with a sponsor and press party Tuesday evening at The Sarasota Modern, packing Rudolph’s bar with supporters seemingly eager to get the scoop on this year’s festival.
SFF’s lineup, which was released online a few hours prior to the event, includes not only previously announced Avi Belkin’s documentary “Mike Wallace is Here” on opening night and Greg Kinnear’s directorial debut, “Phil,” on closing night, but centerpiece film “The Tomorrow Man” and spotlight films “All There Is — A Circus Story,” “Guest Artist,” “Meeting Gorbachev,” “Ophelia,” “Pahokee” and “To the Stars.”
SFF Programmer Harrison Bender told the crowd that the festival, which received more than 1,400 film submissions from 46 countries this year, will also feature three world premieres.
The festival will also include four focus panels on the topics of Florida on film, African-American spotlight, LGBTQ representation and fashion on film, along with films in the following categories: Narrative Feature Competition, Independent Visions Competition, Documentary Feature Competition, Narrative, Documentary and Short Films.
“The lineup of our 21st edition brings forth a range of timely topics and important conversations to engage our wonderful audiences with some of the most thrilling narratives on the screen,” said Chairman and President of SFF Mark Famiglio in a festival release. “We are pleased to bring the community together with a diverse lineup of films, hope discussions between attendees continues after the film has concluded and that everyone can find a unique and exciting experience within our 2019 program.”
Several speakers at the kickoff noted milestones for the festival this year, such as the 20th anniversary of SFF’s festival-within-a-festival, the Gulf Coast Chapter of the United States National Committee for UN Women’s Through Women’s Eyes International Film Festival April 6 and 7 at Hollywood 11.
The festival also announced its Community Screenings, which feature three timely documentary films: “Swing Time in Limousin,” “Invisible … Poverty, Hope and the American Dream” and “Trafficking Solution,” and the latter follows the issue of sex trafficking in Sarasota — specifically how local law-enforcement is shifting its view of local sex workers.
Tickets for the festival go on sale on March 21 for members and cinephiles and on sale March 23 for the public. For tickets and a complete schedule, click here.