Sarasota Film Festival features the best of independent film

SFF by Caitlyn and Sydney
Advertisements for the festival are spread throughout Downtown Sarasota.


The 17th annual Sarasota Film Festival, held from April 10-19, has established itself as a local tradition. A high-profile event, the festival attracts its fair share of popular actors and actresses, directors and other film aficionados each year, broadcasting some of the most respected independent movies from around the world.

This year’s festival opened at the Sarasota Opera House with the film “Time Out of Mind,” a story about a homeless man rekindling his relationship with his daughter, which was followed by the opening night party. Other events included lunch with Jane Seymour at Sarasota Yacht Club and “Cinema Tropicale,” a noteworthy occasion held at Michael’s On East that combines film, food and fashion. “I’ll See You In My Dreams,” a comedic tale of a woman who, years after the loss of her partner, experiences romantic feelings for two men, closed the festival, an event complete with a red carpet and an awards show. The “1137 Unwrap Party” at The Starlight Room followed the film.

“The turnout is good, a lot of the shows are selling out,” Sarasota Film Festival volunteer of many years Ellen Nicholson said of the 2015 festival. “I do recommend going to the end conversations with the movie stars. It’s really fun. You get to meet them, you get to know so much more about them, and it’s like being in a little setting intimately with them.”

A handful of films were highlighted at the festival. Some were documentaries, such as “Brand: A Second Coming,” about comedian Russell Brand’s rise to fame through mischievous, headline-grabbing antics and substance abuse; “Cartel Land,” about Mexican drug cartels; “Newtown at 100: A Glimpse Through Our Eyes,” about the history and future of Booker T. High School from the students’ own perspectives; and “Hot Type: 150 Years of the Nation,” about the perilous journey to publishing a magazine on a weekly basis. Others were narratives, such as “Clouds of Sils Maria,” about the rivalry between an experienced and a new actress; “The End of the Tour,” a biographical drama about David Foster Wallace, starring Jesse Eisenberg and Jason Segal; “Love and Mercy,” about songwriter/musician Brian Wilson’s rise and fall from success; and “Results,” about two personal trainers and a new, wealthy client. Conversations were held with actress Cloris Leachman, writer/director Tom Browne and writer/director Oren Moverman. Films on Florida and homelessness were featured, and a separate sub-festival called “Through Women’s Eyes,” which showed films written, directed and produced by women, was presented for the 16th year.

“It’s a very worthwhile experience to learn all about independent film,” Nicholson said.

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