It’s official: The 21st annual Sarasota Film Festival is set to begin in April.
While tidbits of information about the festival, taking place April 5-14, had been released earlier, organizers revealed the full line-up of films, in narrative, documentary and short film categories, along with special events and screenings, at a kickoff party Tuesday, March 19, at the new Sarasota Modern hotel, to a gathering of media and sponsors.
Some highlights: a red carpet screening of the documentary Mike Wallace is Here, about the longtime TV newsman, April 5 at the Municipal Auditorium; the closing night film (and world premiere) Phil, by first-time director (and star) Greg Kinnear, who will be in attendance April 13 at the Sarasota Opera House; and Conversations with Kinnear, Blythe Danner and Anne Heche, to take place at Florida Studio Theatre. (Danner and Heche will receive awards during the closing night ceremony.)
There are also parties, of course, with the booming Rosemary District a focal point for socializing. The opening night party is set for The Modern; Cinema Tropicale at The Overton restaurant; and the closing night celebration at the newly opened Sage, with its rooftop bar on First Street.
In between there’s a host of other special screenings involving partnerships with the community, such as the documentary Into the Storm, relating the story of student athletes at Booker High who fought to bring home a state title and save their school from closing in the days when schools were first integrating here; Trafficking Solution, dealing with the impact of human trafficking in our area; the 20th annual Through Women’s Eyes International Film Festival, spotlighting films from around the world directed and/or produced by women; and a first-time sponsorship of a movie by the Fine Arts Society of Sarasota with the arts documentary The Price of Everything, about the white-hot contemporary art market.
There’s much more, including the Centerpiece film The Tomorrow Man, starring Danner and John Lithgow as a pair of lovable eccentrics; the Spotlight movie All There Is—A Circus Story, featuring interviews with many Sarasota circus performers; competitions in various film making categories; and a plethora of shorts, whether animated, documentary, narrative or Florida Showcase films. Films throughout the festival deal with social issues in the Sunshine State; delve into the African-American experience with movies about musician Miles Davis and author Toni Morrison; focus on the LGBTQ community with features like Making Montgomery Clift and The Unicorn; and highlight the world of fashion with movies such as Halston and In Fabric.
Tickets go on sale Thursday, March 21, for members and cinephiles and Saturday, March 23, to the public. For tickets and a complete schedule, visit sarasotafilmfestival.com.