The official closing night ceremonies of the 19th annual Sarasota Film Festival took place Saturday, April 8, at the Sarasota Opera House, with award winners in several categories being announced and an award for cinematic excellence presented to actress Diane Lane (prior to the screening of the movie Paris Can Wait, in which she stars).
There were winners in both audience and juried fields, and you can read more about each at sarasotafilmfestival.com. Taking home the Jury Prize for Best Narrative was director John Trengrove’s The Wound, centered on a lonely factory worker in Africa who joins the men of his camp to initiate a group of teenage boys in a painful rite of passage.
The documentary Jury Prize went to Last Men in Aleppo, which follows three founding members of the White Helmets, the Nobel Peace Prize-nominated volunteer rescue organization at the front lines of the conflict in Syria. California Dreams, which focuses on five aspiring artist in Hollywood, won the Independent Visions Award.
Other jury awards went to Fraud, One Week and a Day, and Menashe; audience awards went to the comedy Like Crazy; the documentary Abacus: Small Enough to Jail; and Bon Voyage (short).
Lane accepted her award for cinematic excellence from fellow actress Rosanna Arquette, who recalled how she couldn’t take her eyes off a young Lane in the movie A Little Romance. “She continues to mesmerize us,” she added. “She’s my favorite actress.”
Lane took the stage to enthusiastic applause, saying that the award, like “every award I ever receive, is for my dad [drama coach Burton Eugene Lane]. I take this as a call to continue doing what I’m doing.”
Then she demonstrated her talent in the narrative directorial and screenwriting debut film by Eleanor Coppola (wife of Francis Ford Coppola and herself a documentary filmmaker), Paris Can Wait. It’s a charming tale that sets Lane’s character, the wife of a successful film producer (Alec Baldwin), on a road trip with his business partner (Arnaud Viard), in a storyline that’s at least somewhat autobiographical for Coppola.
As the two travel from Cannes to Paris via a very indirect route, Lane’s character absorbs some of her French traveling companion’s approach to life, while traversing beautiful countryside, dining on wonderful French food, and drinking great French wine. It could almost turn into a travelogue if it weren’t for skilled writing by Coppola, a heartfelt performance by Lane as her character comes to make some personal discoveries, and a winning one by Viard, who probably isn’t well-known to American audiences but hits just the right notes to make our initial wariness of him turn to affection.
For some reminiscences from Lane, and her fellow festival “In Conversation with…” stars Rosanna Arquette and Stanley Tucci, read here .