News Section: Arts and Entertainment
2012 Sarasota Film Festival Brought Hollywood Glitz & Glamor to the Gulfcoast
SARASOTA -- From its low-key beginning in 1999, featuring 8 films, 6 actors and a single gala fundraiser, the Sarasota Film Festival has grown into a major force in the film industry with over 230 films shown, over 250 filmmakers in attendance, and multiple special events over the course of its ten-day schedule this year, including a series of screenings at State College of Florida’s Neel Auditorium in Bradenton, the first time the festival has crossed over to Manatee County.
But don’t think the SFF is just for industry insiders and film buffs, although you’ll see plenty of them in attendance. The SFF is a place for viewers to not only see new films, many of which are world or U.S. premieres, but to also come face to face with the creative forces behind their production. Most films shown at the festival are introduced by their makers and followed by a Q&A.
|Olivia Silver, Writer and Director of Berlin Film Festival award winning film, Arcadia|
Opening night’s feature, Robot and Frank, tells the touching yet lighthearted story of retired jewel thief Frank, played by Frank Langella, facing the effects of aging and memory loss, while pining away for the local librarian, played by Susan Sarandon. Also starring Liv Tyler, James Marsden and Peter Sarsgaard, the screening at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall was followed by an in-person Q&A with star Langella, director Jake Schrier and producer Jeremy Bailer, moderated by festival director Tom Hall. While Robot and Frank is guaranteed a distributor and is already receiving award buzz, SFF gives movie goers the opportunity to view the work of the film’s up and coming stars as well.
Robot and Frank producer Bailer also produced young writer and director Olivia Silver’s first feature length film, Arcadia. The expansion of Silver’s short, Little Canyons which aired at 2009’s Sundance Film Festival, Arcadia has already won the Crystal Bear Award for Best Film in the Generations K+ Section at the Berlin Film Festival. Sitting down and chatting with Silver, you know that she’s someone to watch. Her film tells the story of Greta and her siblings, Caroline and Nat, who are hurried into the family station wagon by their father, played by Oscar-Nominated actor, John Hawkes, for a cross country trip to their new home in Arcadia, CA. As the trip progresses, Greta and her siblings realize that something just isn’t right.
Producer Bailer was drawn to Arcadia because he felt that viewers of all ages would be able to identify with characters in the family drama, like he identified with Greta, a middle child like himself. One of last year’s film festival stand outs, Lena Dunham, who showed her indie film, Little Furniture, garnered the attention of Judd Apatow right here at the Sarasota Film Festival. This year, Apatow is producing Dunham’s new HBO series, Girls, which fittingly enough premiered on April 15, during the opening weekend of this year’s festival.
|Kelly Kelly and Rey Mysterio, WWE Superstars|
From film festival veterans like Canadian filmmaker Ingrid Veninger, showing a film at the SFF for the 7th time, to the stars of WWE Studios’ first feature film, The Day, Ashley Bell and Dominic Monaghan, and WWE superstars Rey Mysterio and Kelly Kelly, to the middle and high school students who were part of the youthFEST, you never know who you are going to see on the red carpet at the Sarasota Film Festival.
When asked about sharing the red carpet with young students, Onur Turkel, whose film Richard’s Wedding won a Special Jury Prize in the Independent Visions Section, he exclaimed, “I think that’s incredible! That’s amazing! I think what’s really beautiful about the technology is allowing people to indulge in creativity like filmmaking that used to be a rich man’s kind of thing.”
|Adele Streissguth, Booker High School youthFEST Contributor|
Sarasota Film Festival’s youthFEST, which just five years ago had only three programs and a single event, has grown into 13 programs and four events under the guidance of the festival’s current Director of Education, Allison Koehler This year over 130 students walked the red carpet and attended the screenings of their films at Hollywood Nights, the youthFEST’s main event.
With over 5,000 participating students from 36 schools in Manatee and Sarasota counties, it is one of the largest youth film festivals in the country. Best of all, through the generosity of its sponsors, all of the programs are free! Just a few of the students who had films screened in this year’s festival were Rowlett Elementary School’s Hunter Gionfriddo, Eric Brandenburg and Brenden Kidd; Booker Middle School’s Bella Main and Rogers Knopik; Booker High School’s Adele Streissguth, Gaby Connor and Colton Bazenas; and Sarasota County Technical Institute’s Stephanie Cetrulo.
Co-written and produced by the Southwest Florida Gaffney/Brockman family, which includes New York Times Best Selling Author Susan Brockman, The Perfect Wedding, starring veteran actors Kristine Sutherland and James Rebhorn, was shot completely on location in Venice and Sarasota and featured local residents as extras. Because of the Gaffney/Brockman family’s strong ties to the region, the Sarasota Film Festival was their first choice for the world premiere of their film.
After selling out two screenings earlier in the week, the film was one of the few to earn the honor of a third showing on the final day of the festival. As The Perfect Wedding gains attention, and hopefully a distributor, on this summer’s film festival circuit, we can all be proud of the big part our region played in their film. Nothing is worse than seeing a film set in Southwest Florida, which was clearly shot somewhere else – usually somewhere else with mountains in the background!
|Jessie Sage, co-writer and star, with Datev Gallagher, writer and director, of locally filmed short, In The Grove.|
Scott Ciencin, The Sarasota Film Festival Insider tells us, “This has been the biggest and boldest year of programming and events in the festival’s history and we look forward to meeting the challenge of topping ourselves next year. To become an SFF Insider yourself, come to our home page, subscribe to our blog, and sign up for MySFF updates for breaking news and big announcements on the 2013 festival!”
|Ashley Bell, Star of WWE's Studio's first feature film, The Day. Bell is best known for her starring roll in The Last Exorcism.|
Dominic Monaghan, Star of WWE Studios' first feature film, The Day. Monaghan has also starred in The Lord of the Rings Movie Trilogy and TV's Lost.
|Onur Turkel, Writer, Director and Star of Sarasota Film Festival award winning film, Richard's Wedding.|
|Rogers Knopik and Bella Main, Booker Middle School youthFEST Contributors|
|Jeremy Bailer, Producer, Sarasota Film Festival hits, Frank and Robot and Arcadia|
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