Lights, Camera, Action

SFF Announces the Lineup for the 2024 Film Festival

Actor-director Steve Buscemi will attend in person and Sarasota native Austin Abrams will receive the festival's Rising Star Award. Here's what else you need to know.

By Megan McDonald March 21, 2024

Steve Buscemi
Steve Buscemi

Drumroll, please: The Sarasota Film Festival (SFF) has announced the programming for its 26th annual festival, which will take place April 5-April 15 and feature in-person screenings and a number of events. The film lineup includes 64 features, with four world premieres, one North American premiere, seven East Coast premieres and 81 short films. 

Loretta Devine in <em>Bull Street</em>.
Loretta Devine in Bull Street.

The festival will open with Lynn Down's Bull Street, a drama set in small-town South Carolina that centers around a small-town lawyer whose estranged father's family tries to evict her from the only home she's ever known. The film stars Loretta Devine and Amy Madigan, who, along with other cast members, will attend the festival in-person and participate in a post-screen talkback.

During the festival’s opening weekend, SFF will also host a showcase of all five Live Action Short Film nominees from the 96th Academy Awards, which include Misan Harriman’s The After, Vincent René-Lortie’s Invincible, Lasse Lyskjær Noer’s Knight of Fortune, Nazrin Choudhury’s Red, White and Blue and Wes Anderson's The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar, which took home the Oscar. On April 12, the festival will also screen short film The Last Repair Shop, the winner of this year's Academy Award for Best Documentary Short Film; editor Nick Garnham Wright will attend and participate in a post-screening Q&A.

Tessa Thompson in Steve Buscemi's <em>The Listener</em>.
Tessa Thompson in Steve Buscemi's The Listener.

On Saturday, April 13, the festival will close with a presentation of Steve Buscemi’s The Listener, which follows a crisis hotline worker (Tessa Thompson) as she endures the pressures of her job. Buscemi will also be in attendance and will participate in a Q&A session immediately following the screening.

This year’s Spotlight presentations include screenings of Natalie Rae and Angela Patton’s Daughters, a documentary distributed by Netflix that follows four young girls as they prepare for a special daddy-daughter dance with their incarcerated fathers; Jeff Zimbalist’s How to Come Alive With Norman Mailer, a documentary about Mailer and his life and career; Dheeraj Akolkar’s Liv Ullman: The Road Less Traveled, a portrait of Ullman featuring intimate memories and profound reflections on the actress's hopes, fears, grief, rejections and lessons learned; Dawn Porter’s Luther: Never Too Much, a celebration of Luther Vandross and his music; Stephen Soucy’s Merchant Ivory, the story behind the longest-running partnership in the history of cinema; Amei Wallach’s Taking Venice, the true story behind the rumors that, at the height of the Cold War, the U.S. government rigged the Venice Biennale, so that its chosen artist, Robert Rauschenberg, could win the festival’s Grand Prize; and Noah Pritzker’s feature comedy Ex-Husbands, the story of a middle-aged man overwhelmed by his pending divorce and the declining health of his father, which stars Griffin Dunne and Roseanne Arquette.

Sarasota native Austin Abrams stars in the thriller <em>The Line</em> and will attend the festival.
Sarasota native Austin Abrams stars in the thriller The Line and will attend the festival.

Additionally, Sarasota native Austin Abrams—who stars in the thriller The Line—will attend the festival and receive SFF’s Rising Star Award. Abrams is a series regular in HBO's popular Euphoria and can be seen opposite Camila Mendes and Maya Hawke in Netflix's Do Revenge. Later this year, he'll star in the psychological thriller Wolves with George Clooney and Brad Pitt.

“I could not be more thrilled with the depth and quality of the films that make up the lineup for our 26th annual edition,” Sarasota Film Festival chairman and board president Mark Famiglio said in a press release. “It is incredibly special that we also have the opportunity to honor a young talent in Austin Abrams—whose work has spanned prestige television to independent film—and to welcome him back to the community that helped launch his passion for the arts. We are proud to continue supporting film education, and to help spur creative output and tourism in the greater Sarasota area."

For more information, and to see the entire slate of films plus schedules and events, click here.

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