SFF's 2019 poster.

Film lovers get excited each spring about the brand-new movies—plus the filmmakers—turning up in the Sarasota Film Festival (April 5-14 this year). But while those 10 days pack in plenty, they’re not all there is to the festival.

SFF staffers are busy year-round bringing education and entertainment to all ages. Moonlight Movies offer free public screenings of recent movies in spots like Siesta Key Beach or Nathan Benderson Park. Film classes, workshops and summer camps teach students 7-18 (and some adults, too) the techniques of the trade. The Reel Talk Student Film Festival, a competition for Sarasota County middle and high school students, teaches participants about creating public service announcements, culminating in a $10,000 prize package. SFF’s outreach even includes a partnership that helps local students raise funds to build schools in impoverished parts of the world, including Africa and Nepal.

And, new this past year, Cinematheque brings film fans together to watch classic American and foreign films in a renovated warehouse setting on Tallevast Road. Each film is preceded by an introduction from a film historian and followed by a Q&A, deepening viewers’ appreciation.

The outreach aspects of SFF continue during the April event, with a 20 Hour Film Contest giving aspiring filmmakers the chance to show what they can do making a short film that’s then played on the big screen. VIP Trips bring more than 2,000 students to the Regal Hollywood 11 Cinemas on film-screening field trips, free of charge. The Hollywood Nights Young Filmmaker Showcase spotlights student-made short films and gives students a taste of Hollywood glitz and glamour with a red carpet and awards ceremony. The fest also screens a new historical documentary produced by Booker High and hosts an evening of awards for the Riverview High film program.

And let’s not forget another partnership, with the Through Women’s Eyes International Film Festival, screening domestic and international movies directed and/or produced by women. That also takes place during the April festival.

So now you know what goes on behind the scenes. Are you ready for parties, popcorn and movies, movies, movies this month? Visit sarasotafilmfestival.com for the latest updates on screenings and special events.

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