When I became a Snow Bird, I had no idea that Sarasota, Florida, is home to one of the largest film festivals in the country. Each April, the fest screens hundreds of films, many of which will be picked up by major distributors and play in a theater near you.
The genres available for viewing are diverse: fiction, documentary, narrative, shorts, and animation. The festival opened with an evening featuring cinematic great Sophia Loren followed by a snazzy party at the regal Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall. Other notable actors who participated in public forums included Matthew Modine, Rosie Perez, and Olympia Dukakis.
Friends here generally select 15-20 films to see during the ten-day run. My husband and I picked five as we are not the movie buffs some are. To date, we have seen two, which we found fun and hope to see distributed. On our first night, we were asked to stand on the red carpet to greet Rosie Perez. As is typical when I see famous people, I became apoplectic. She’s a doll.
Our first movie was a serious look at a man grieving over the sudden death of his wife as well as grappling with a curmudgeon of a mother-in-law who was never happy with her daughter’s choice of spouse. It’s entitled “Five Nights in Maine.” Then we saw a comedy set in the deep South which might have been aptly named “Southern Exposure”; it depicts a town full of characters without delving into caricature or stereotype. “Elbow Grease” was rollicking fun.
As engaging as the films are, the Q & A’s following each screening are worth sticking around for. Directors, producers, and actors are present to take questions from the audience, allowing for deeper insight to the productions.
In its 18th season, the Sarasota Film Festival works to engage conversation in a variety of subjects. I am headed out to my third film this afternoon. Whoopee!
The Sarasota Spectator
Our Sarasota Spectator is Betsy Miller, a retired high school teacher and college professor. Originally from Columbus, Betsy has fallen in love with the Gulf Coast of Florida, especially Sarasota. Blogging about the area has been a creative outlet for the writer, opening up an avenue of exploration. You may find the bon vivant enjoying happy hour at a tiki bar, shopping on historic Main Street, or seated at a concert or show at a local theater. Chances are you also might find her buried in a book on one of our beautiful beaches. Asked to give one word about her feelings for Sarasota, Betsy replied, “Smitten.”