Tag Archives: Sarasota Film Festival

Sarasota Film Festival Announces 2017 Winners

(Sarasota, FL) After nine days of films, panels, roundtable discussions and community outreach, with organizations such as the Booker Film Academy, IMG and Boys & Girls Club, the 2017 Sarasota Film Festival (SFF) concluded at the historic Sarasota Opera House on Saturday.

SFF finished its 2017 edition with a stage filled with A-list talent including honoree Diane Lane, who took home an award for cinematic excellence, actors Stanley Tucci and Rosanna Arquette, filmmaker and TV personality Aisha Tyler and NBA Legend Kenny Anderson, among others. SFF announced this year’s jury and audience award winners the ceremony.

The Wound directed by John Trengove took home this year’s Narrative Feature Jury prize that came with a $5,000 cash prize from Sam Slater of Burn Later Productions. Last Men In Aleppo directed by Feras Fayyad was the Documentary Jury Prize winner.
Three special jury prizes were awarded; in the Narrative category for masterly use of comedy in a tragic milieu, One Week And A Day directed by Asaph Polonsky. For Documentary Feature Competition a Special Jury Prize was awarded to Dina directed by Dan Sickles and Antonio Santini for Honesty and Humanity and for Independent Visions the Special Jury prize for Narrative Innovation went to Fraud directed by Dean Fleischer-Camp.

The festival’s Independent Visions Award, which includes a distribution deal from FACTORY 25, went to California Dreams directed by Mike Ott.

The Terry Porter Visionary Award went to MENASHE directed by Joshua Z. Weinstein for its spirit of independence and experimentation.

This year’s Animated Shorts jury winner is Nutag-Homeland, directed by Alisi Telengut. The jury awarded The Silence, directed by Farnoosh Samadi and Ali Asgari best Narrative Short and the Documentary Short award winner is Little Potato, directed by Wes Hurley.

This year’s Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature was Like Crazydirected by Paolo Virzi.

The Audience Award for Best Documentary was presented to Abacus: Small Enough To Jail, director Steve James.

The Best In World Cinema Audience Award went to Last Men in Aleppo, director Feras Fayyad.

Bon Voyage, directed by Marc Wilkins won the Audience Award for Best Short Film.

“We are thrilled with the turnout of this year’s festival,” says President of the Sarasota Film Festival Mark Famiglio. “We strive to bring the best filmmakers, movies, talent, and programming to the Sarasota audience. With the support of our sponsors and the Sarasota Film Festival staff, we were able to serve the community with one of our best festivals yet and an experience they can be proud to remember.”

Congratulations to the 2017 winners of The Sarasota Film Festival Awards:
Narrative Feature Competition Winner
The Wound

Director – John Trengove
Narrative Feature Competition – Special Jury Prize
One Week And A Day
Director – Asaph Polonsky
Documentary Feature Competition
Last Men in Aleppo
Director – Feras Fayyad
Independent Vision Prize Winner
California Dreams
Director – Mike Ott
Animated Shorts Competition
Nutag-Homeland
Director – Alisi Telengut
Narrative Short Competition
The Silence
Directors – Farnoosh Samadi, Ali Asgari
Documentary Short Competition
Little Potato
Directors – Wes Hurley, Nathan M. Miller
Audience Awards
Best Narrative Feature
Like Crazy
Director – Paolo Virzi
Audience Award
Best Documentary Feature

Abacus: Small Enough To Jail
Director – Steve James
Audience Award
Best Short Film

Bon Voyage
Director – Marc Wilkins
Audience Award
Best In World Cinema

Last Men In Aleppo
Director – Feras Fayyad
Jury
Narrative

Jason Benjamin – Filmmaker, Suited
David Edelstein – Chief Film Critic, New York Magazine
Addie Morfoot – Entertainment Reporter, Variety, Crains
Documentary
Aaron Hillis – Manager of Film & Creative Outreach, Indiegogo
Amy Berg – Filmmaker, Deliver Us From Evil, Prophet’s Prey
Edward Douglas – Film Critic and Writer, Film Journal International
Independent Visions
Jeremy Gerard – Film Critic and Columnist, Deadline Hollywood
Matt Grady – Producer and Founder, Factory 25
Joel Potrykus – Writer and Director, Buzzard, Ape
Shorts Competition
Andrew Hevia – Producer, Moonlight
Saschka Unseld – Filmmaker, Blue Umbrella
Josh Braun – Co-President Submarine
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Sarasota Film Festival Review: Sarasota Half In Dream

(Sarasota, FL) When deciding which films I would like to review in this year’s Sarasota Film Festival, I was drawn immediately to the title in the festival’s catalog “Sarasota Half In Dream”. I’ve lived in Sarasota more than 20 years and seeing a film about my adopted hometown in our local festival appealed to my interest and curiosity. The blurb in the catalog described the film as an “experimental documentary”. That should have been a clue that what I thought the film was about was not exactly what I got to see.

The film begins with a montage of clips from old travel ads extolling the virtues of visiting Sarasota, many of which include Rick Defuria, a former circuit court judge who was also a part time actor and original anchor on Sarasota’s cable news channel SNN in the 1990’s. About two minutes in to that overly long montage segment, I knew this film was not going to be a love letter to Sarasota.

What follows is a series of segments on an abandoned golf course, factory, freight cars and highlighted (or lowlighted) by an exploration of the now defunct and decaying Colony Tennis Resort on Longboat Key. There is also an interview with someone named Elliot who spends about ten minutes criticizing Sarasota as a place filled with “the old, white and rich” that apparently don’t care about young people and that Sarasota will someday sink underwater. Elliott also complains there is nothing for young people to do in Sarasota and he and his school friends had to create their own “culture” in the woods near the school they attended.

Another long segment in the film explores a parking garage at night showing several high-schoolers using it for a skateboard park while the film’s dour narrator states Sarasota is becoming known for an abundance of garages.

In between all the decay, the film juxtaposes shots of insects, wasps, hornets and crabs on a Lido Key inlet bringing back memories of those science films shown in high school biology class.

The two filmmakers, who spoke to the audience after Sunday’s screening at the Hollywood 20 Theaters, grew up in Sarasota and said the film took more than 4 years to complete while both were going to school and working their regular jobs.

While the film is well crafted technically and uses music primarily written and performed by a local band called “Lung Cycles”, this documentary doesn’t shine Sarasota in a great light. True, all cities have sections of urban decay and run down buildings and Sarasota has its share of those, but if all you saw was this film and had never been here, you’d get the impression the whole town looked like the South Bronx in the 1970’s.

It is unclear if or how many of these films in the Sarasota Film Festival will get any kind of distribution nationally. Filmmakers hope a positive buzz from screenings will entice either distributors or television networks to buy their films. I would bet the Sarasota Convention and Visitors Bureau would not be pleased if “Sarasota Half In Dream” was ever seen by anyone outside of our fair city.

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Sarasota Film Festival To Present Sophia Loren With Legend Award





(Sarasota, FL) The Sarasota Film Festival today announced they will present Oscar winning actress Sophia Loren with the 2016 Legend Award, as part of the 2015/ 2016 Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall Season. “An Evening with Sophia Loren,” will take place Thursday, March 31st at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall in Sarasota, Florida.

Each year the Sarasota Film Festival recognizes an iconic performer, past recipients have included Kevin Bacon, Charlize Theron, Robert Altman, Felicity Huffman, Kevin Kline, Sidney Pollack, Stanley Tucci, Rachel Weisz, Jane Seymour, and many others. The Sarasota Film Festival will present Sophia Loren with the prestigious SFF Legend Award, followed by an intimate and rare on stage conversation between Sophia Loren and Entertainment Tonight Correspondent Bill Harris. The event will mark the kickoff of the 2016 Sarasota Film Festival, which celebrates opening night on April 1st and continues through April 10th.

Sophia Loren remains one of the most celebrated stars of our time, having received a Best Actress Academy Award in 1962 for her performance in LA CIOCIARA and an Honorary Academy Award in 1991 for her outstanding career. Some of her ground-breaking films include, IT STARTED IN NAPLES, MATRIMONIO ALL’ITALIANA and PRET-A-PORTER.
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“What an honor it is for the Sarasota Film Festival to bestow our Legend Award to the incredible, world -renowned talent, Sophia Loren,” said Mark Famiglio, President of the Sarasota Film Festival. “Sophia’s legacy and work is a true representation of the arts and culture that we strive to bring to this community year after year. As we enter our 18th festival, there is no better way to celebrate than to recognize the iconic Ms. Loren.”

More details including the full line-up for the Sarasota Film Festival will be announced in the coming weeks. For more detailed information or for tickets please visit: http://www.sarasotafilmfestival.com.

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17th Annual Sarasota Film Festival Releases Complete Film Schedule

(Sarasota, FL) The Sarasota Film Festival has released its full line-up, including its Narrative Feature Competition, Independent Visions Competition, Documentary Feature Competition, its Sundance/Gate Foundation Shorts, its Centerpiece and Spotlight films, and its Best of the Web Program.

Emmy Award and two-time Golden Globe Award-Winning British-American actress Jane Seymour (LIVE AND LET DIE, “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman”) will be in attendance to showcase Evangelos Giovanis and George Giovanis’ BEREAVE, which is one this year’s Narrative Spotlight films. Academy Award-Winning actress Cloris Leachman (“Mary Tyler Moore”) will also be in attendance to fete Ryan Jaffe’s THIS IS HAPPENING.

Seymour and Leachman will both be honored at this year’s Tribute Luncheon in support of SFF Women, which will be held on Friday, April 17th at 11:00am at the Sarasota Yacht Club, along with the Through Women’s Eyes collaboration and the Side by Side Symposium. The annual Luncheon marks the festival’s initiative to create a collaborative environment for women in the entertainment industry and to honor women who have made a significant contribution to the art of film.

“This luncheon is an important tradition, and I look forward to having Jane and Cloris at this year’s event,” said Mark Famiglio, President of the Sarasota Film Festival. “The presence of such iconic actresses, coupled with the rich and diverse line-up, assure a dynamic festival that will both stimulate and inspire our audiences.”

The Luncheon will host a silent auction with SFF handbags exclusively designed by Diana E Kelly, INC, which was founded 5 years ago in Sarasota and now sells its products throughout the US as well as internationally.

In addition, Academy Award-Winning Actress Rachel Weisz (THE CONSTANT GARDENER) will be in attendance at the Festival to honor up-and-coming Writer/Director Tom Browne with the Emerging World Cinema Auteur Award for their collaboration on RADIATOR, which is part of the Festival’s Narrative Feature Competition.

This section will boast some of the festival’s finest domestic and international films, including DIVINE ACCESS by Steven Chester Prince, ENTERTAINMENT by Rick Alverson, OBRA by Gregorio Graziosi, PHANTOM HALO by Antonia Bogdanovich, SLOW WEST by John Maclean, WHITE GOD by Kornél Mundruczó, and YOSEMITE by Gabrielle Demeestere.

The Documentary Feature Competition will showcase ALMOST THERE by Dan Rybicky and Aaron Wickenden, BENEATH THE OLIVE TREE by Stavroula Toska, HOLBROOK/TWAIN: AN AMERICAN ODYSSEY by Scott Teems, THE LAST MAN ON THE MOON by Mark Craig, SELECT(ED) by Kayla McCormick, STRAY DOG by Debra Granik, TYKE ELEPHANT OUTLAW by Susan Lambert and Stefan Moore, and WALKING UNDER WATER by Eliza Kubarska.

The Independent Visions Competition will feature BACKGAMMON by Francisco Orvañanos, DEVILTOWN by Harvey Mitkas, EEL by James Kaelan, LAKE LOS ANGELES by Mike Ott, LAMB by Ross Patridge, RUNOFF by Kimberly Levin, TIRED MOONLIGHT by Britni West, and UNCERTAIN TERMS by Nathan Silver.

James Ponsoldt will attend to present the festival’s Narrative Centerpiece, his Sundance hit THE END OF THE TOUR starring Jesse Eisenberg and Jason Segel. Ondi Timoner will attend to present the festival’s Documentary Centerpiece, her SXSW opener Brand: A SECOND COMING, about comedian and social activist Russell Brand. Narrative Spotlight films include Evangelos and George Giovanis’ BEREAVE (Malcolm McDowell, Jane Seymour), Bill Pohlad’s LOVE AND MERCY (John Cusack, Paul Giamatti), Olivier Assayas’ CLOUDS OF SILS MARIA (Juliette Binoche, Kristen Stewart), and Andrew Bujalski’s RESULTS (Guy Pearce, Cobie Smulders). Documentary Spotlight films include Matthew Heineman’s CARTEL LAND, Bryan Carberry and J. Clay Tweel’s FINDERS KEEPERS, Barbara Kopple’s HOT TYPE, and Albert Maysles’ IRIS.
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The festival will also honor the late documentary master Albert Maysles, showing a newly restored print of his classic GREY GARDENS, and also having a special screening of his penultimate film IRIS, capping a daylong program of “The Most Fashionable Films Ever” in honor of that film’s subject. In addition, during the Closing Night Awards ceremony the festival will premiere a short documentary tribute to Maysles produced by Morgan Spurlock and Ondi Timoner and directed by the festival’s Creative Producer Michael Dunaway.

The Sundance Institute Short Film Challenge, a partnership between the Sundance Institute and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to spark conversations about solutions to global challenges, will showcase 175 Grams (India) by Bharat Mirle, Dropping In (South Africa) by Willem Van Den Heever, Isabelle’s Garden (U.S.A.) by Jeffrey Palmer, Man in the Maze (U.S.A.) by Phil Buccellato and Jesse Ash, A Will of Iron (Nigeria) by Seyi Fabunmi and Mobolaji Adeolu , Melody (Chile) by Marialy Rivas, The Visible Hand (Argentina) by Gael García Bernal, The World is as Big or as Small As You Make It (U.S.A.) by Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady, and Nana (Mexico) by Diego Luna. (****** Should we say “This will be the only screening of this program outside Sundance.”?)

The Festival’s Best of the Web program, which represents a diverse sampling of comedic web series that were released online this past year or are premiering at the festival before being launched online, includes Convos With My 4-Year-Old by Matthew Clarke, David Milchard, Driving Arizona by Dylan Tanous, Joe Ahern, Anthony Pucillo, Drug Deals by Mike Fitzgerald, Matt Carrier, Adam Bial, Mike Stone: Actor by Renata Green-Gaber, David Harper, My Mom On Movies by Joshua Seftel, Understudies by Daniel Shea Zimbler, Elisabeth Gray, Wiener Vs. Brain by Almog Avidan Antonir, Tom Assam-Miller, Heston Horwin, Chase Cargill and Written It Down by Matt Saraceni, Dave Zwolenski.

The Festival announced its first year partnership with the prestigious Screenwriters Colony, founded in 2002 by John Johnson, co-founder of BuzzFeed and Henry Crown Fellow at the Aspen Institute. Its purpose is to provide an outlet for a select group of emerging screenwriters to engage with peers, and receive guidance from industry professionals. Past mentorships have included Cary Fukanaga (True Detective), Frank Pugliese (House of Cards), Henry Bean (Internal Affairs), among others. During the partnership’s inaugural year, the colony will be presenting a Television Writing Intensive Workshop at the Sarasota Film Festival to help these individuals hone their craft and create an extended curriculum for future years.

The Festival also previously announced that Director Oren Moverman’s TIME OUT OF MIND, starring Richard Gere, Jena Malone, and Ben Vereen, will open its 17th annual installment, with Moverman in attendance to receive the Hearts and Minds of Independent Film Award. Director Brett Haley’s I’LL SEE YOU IN MY DREAMS, starring Blythe Danner, Martin Starr and Sam Elliott, will screen as the Closing Night film. Haley will be in attendance along with Danner, who will receive the festival’s Impact Award.

For tickets and a complete schedule of films and events, visit http://www.sarasotafilmfestival.com.

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Sarasota Film Festival Announces Opening and Closing Night Films

(Sarasota, FL) The Sarasota Film Festival announced today that Director Oren Moverman’s “Time Out of Mind”, starring Richard Gere, Jena Malone, and Ben Vereen, will open its 17th annual installment with a screening on Friday, April 10th at 6:30PM at the Sarasota Opera House. Moverman will attend the festival and receive the Hearts and Minds of Independent Film Award.

Director Brett Haley’s “I’ll See You In My Dreams”, starring Blythe Danner, Martin Starr and Sam Elliott, will screen as the Closing Night film on Saturday, April 18th at 7:00PM at the Sarasota Opera House. Haley will be in attendance along with Danner, who will receive the festival’s Impact Award.

“We’re excited to have these two films to open and close our 17th installment,” said Mark Famiglio, President of the Sarasota Film Festival. “Opening with a very dramatic performance by Richard Gere and closing with the elegant and clever Blythe Danner, the festival will have both touching and inspiring moments for all.”

“I’m thrilled to be able to showcase these two significant films for my first year at the festival,” said Michael Dunaway, Director of Programming. “They place the Sarasota Film Festival in a competitive spotlight and tastefully frame our diverse lineup.”

“Time Out of Mind”, produced by Richard Gere, Lawrence Inglee, Caroline Kaplan, Edward Watson, Miranda Bailey and Bill Pohlad, and directed by Oren Moverman, follows a seemingly normal homeless man (Gere) on the streets of New York as he struggles to find stability and restore his relationship with his estranged daughter (Malone). IFC Films will be releasing “Time Out of Mind” in September.

Closing night film “I’ll See You In My Dreams”, directed by Brett Haley, stars Ms. Danner as a widow who’s settled into her life and her age, until a series of events propel her into a renewed engagement with the people and the world around her. The film also stars Martin Starr, Sam Elliott, Malin Akerman, June Squibb, Rhea Perlman, and Mary Kay Place. The film was written by Brett Haley and Marc Basch and produced by Rebecca Green, Laura D. Smith and Brett Haley. Bleecker Street will be releasing “I’ll See You In My Dreams” in May.

The Sarasota Film Festival will announce its full line up next week, including its Narrative Feature Competition, Documentary Feature Competition and Sundance & Gates Foundation shorts.

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Sarasota Film Festival Announces New Programming Team for 2015 Edition

(Sarasota, FL) The Sarasota Film Festival is pleased to announce new programmers will join its staff ahead of the 17th Annual Festival this spring. Michael Dunaway will serve as Director of Programming along with programmers Maggie MacKay, Derek Horne and Caley Fagerstrom; Nadine Zylberberg will serve as the new social media manager.

“The Sarasota Film Festival is thrilled to welcome this outstanding creative team,” said President Mark Famiglio. “This talented group with varied backgrounds will allow the Festival to present the hearts and minds of independent films to our ever-expanding audience.”

Director of Programming, Michael Dunaway currently is the Editor of the Film Section of Paste Magazine, and the Founding Partner of Gasoline Films and of Poitier & Dunaway Motion Pictures.

Programmer, Maggie MacKay has over fourteen years experience as a festival programmer, including working at Sundance and AFI Fest, and most recently serving as Senior Programmer of LA Film Festival and Director of Nominations for the Indie Spirit Awards.

Programmer, Derek Horne has returned to his hometown of Sarasota after spending the last 11 years mentoring film students at Chapman University’s film school in California and prior to that working in film acquisitions in New York City. He has 20 years of experience working for various films festivals, including Sundance, Anaheim International Film Festival, Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival, Newport Beach Film Festival and Santa Fe Independent Film Festival.

Programmer, Caley Fagerstrom, has previously worked at the Sarasota Film Festival in Programming, as well as serving as a Production Apprentice at the Telluride Film Festival.
Nadine Zylberberg currently serves as Social Media Manager for both the festival and The New Yorker Magazine.

The 17th Annual Sarasota Film Festival will take place April 10-19, 2015. Submissions for SFF’s Young Filmmaker Showcase are open until February 27, 2015.

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