Film buffs should start checking the Sarasota Film Festival line-up at sarasotafilmfestival.com soon, for the organizers of the 22nd annual event have announced the complete schedule for March 27 through April 5, with screenings, conversations and more going on around town.
The fest kicks off with Dream Horse, the true story of a Welsh cleaner and bartender who decides to breed and rear a racehorse. That takes opening night honors at Sarasota Municipal Auditorium. Stars Toni Collette and Damian Lewis won’t be in attendance, but the closing night film’s star, Emmy winner Richard Jenkins, will return to Sarasota for the screening of The Last Shift, a drama about an aging fast-food worker who find himself training his replacement. Prior to the film showing on April 4, the festival’s awards ceremony will honor actresses Connie Nielsen (Wonder Woman, Gladiator) and Wendie Malick (TV’s Frasier, Just Shoot Me and more) with the Impact Award and the TV Comedy Icon Award, respectively. Both actresses, along with Jenkins, will participate in the festival’s “In Conversation With...” series.
A Friday night street party April 3 will be hosted by musician Fred Schneider, founding member of The B-52s.
Academy Award nominees Bruce Dern and Lena Olin star in the festival’s Centerpiece Film, The Artist’s Wife, centering on Claire, a once promising painter living in the shadow of her husband’s career, and the discovery that he now has dementia.
In addition to films appearing in competition for awards in the Narrative Feature Competition, Independent Visions Competition, Documentary Feature Competition and Short Films competition, the festival will also host SFF Focus Panels, with African-American Spotlight, Focus on Florida, VR (Virtual Reality) and other Spotlight works. A special screening of the film Dark Waters, starring Mark Ruffalo and based on the true story of an environmental lawsuit against a chemical company, is also planned, with the lawyer in the case, Rob Bilott, a New College graduate, in attendance. And the documentary film A Way Out, directed by area residents Charles Clapsaddle, Durand Adams and Charles Williams, exploring how women get out of abusive relationships, will also have a community screening in partnership with Manatee Educational Television.
“Our slate brings new voices and vision to filmmaking and we are proud to have them as part of our lineup,” said Mark Famiglio, chair and president of the festival, in a press release.
Dozens more movies are set for the festival; tickets go on sale for members Tuesday, March 10, at noon and to the public Wednesday, March 11, at noon. In an effort to go green, a limited number of printed programs will be available; audiences are encouraged to use the digital guide available at sarasotafilmfestival.com.