New College hosts Sarasota Film Festival highlight
Jake Ilardi doing a skating demonstration before the showing.

New College hosts Sarasota Film Festival highlight

All photos taken by Chloe Rusek

On April 14, New College hosted an electrifying event as the prestigious Sarasota Film Festival screened one of its latest documentary offerings, showcasing the life and achievements of Sarasota skateboarding prodigy Jake Ilardi. The documentary, titled Into the Spotlight: The Jake Ilardi Story,’ drew crowds of eager fans and curious attendees to the scenic bayfront campus.

Ilardi, a native of Sarasota, has long been a household name in the skateboarding community. Rising from the streets of his hometown, Ilardi’s talent and determination have propelled him to the upper echelons of the sport. His journey from a young skateboarder with big dreams to an internationally recognized athlete is the focus of the documentary directed by Liam Jordan. The film offers viewers an intimate look into his life, struggles and triumphs as he made his journey to the top.

Film screening at sunset.

The film’s central idea is Ilardi’s remarkable achievements while learning to skateboard.  With an impressive array of tricks and maneuvers under his belt, including the coveted 360 flip, Ilardi has earned a reputation as one of the most innovative and daring skaters of his generation. His fearless approach to the sport has not only earned him countless accolades but has also inspired a new wave of skateboarders around the world.

The showing of Into the Spotlight: The Jake Ilardi Story marked a momentous occasion for both the Sarasota Film Festival and New College. As the first educational institution to host the screening, New College demonstrated its push for community involvement. The event served as a platform for students and members of the public alike to celebrate the achievements of a local hero and gain insight into the world of professional skateboarding.

Grandma Wan’s food truck at the showing.

Adding to the excitement of the evening was the offering of complimentary food and drinks. Attendees were treated to a spread of food trucks, pizza and beverages, courtesy of New College. Third year Safari Swanson expressed his enthusiasm for both the documentary and the college’s initiative to host such events. 

“Great crowd and a fire event,” he remarked to a Catalyst reporter. “Great crowd, I am really happy this guy [Ilardi] came out.” He continued talking about how the event was one of, if not the best, of the whole year. “Free food and free drinks, everyone is having a good time. This is a real banger and could be on top of the pack for this semester.”

Community members enjoy food and beverages at the bayfront.

The screening was preceded by a skating demonstration by Illardi and other attendees. Students filled the newly constructed Robertson Park, food and drink in hand, as they watched the film on a giant, blow-up projector screen. The showing was held just after sunset so the audience was able to enjoy the classic bayfront view. Beforehand, Ilardi gave a brief introduction to the film and thanked attendees for their participation and support.

As the sun set and the credits rolled, the showing of Into the Spotlight: The Jake Ilardi Story left a lasting impression on all who attended. For Ilardi, it was a testament to his indomitable spirit and unwavering dedication to his craft. For New College and the Sarasota Film Festival, it was a shining example of the power of collaboration and community engagement in celebrating local talent and culture.

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