Sarasota Film Festival reveals lineup

Diane Lane

From The Orlando Weekly, March 13, 2017

The 19th annual Sarasota Film Festival, scheduled for March 31 – April 9, announced its lineup of films and celebrity guests today. The festival will screen 79 features and 130 shorts at the Regal Hollywood 20 Theater and Sarasota Opera House (both in downtown Sarasota), with Diane Lane, Rory Kennedy, Barbara Kopple, Aisha Tyler and former NBA star Kenny Anderson attending.

The documentary Take Every Wave: The Life of Laird Hamilton, directed by Kennedy, will open the festival, while Paris Can Wait, directed by Eleanor Coppola (the wife of Francis), will close it. The latter film is Coppola’s narrative directorial and screenwriting debut, and Lane (the movie’s star) will be in attendance, although the festival announcement makes no mention of whether co-star Alec Baldwin will make an appearance. (Lane will be presented with the Sarasota Film Festival Award for Cinematic Excellence.)

For the first time in more than a decade, the festival will not overlap the Florida Film Festival, which is slated for April 21-30. Though the Sarasota festival is not Oscar-accredited like its Orlando cousin, it does include more films and theaters, and it draws about 50,000 patrons (roughly twice the attendance of the Florida Film Festival). The two festivals are widely considered the two best in the state.

Aisha Tyler

The Sarasota Film Festival is known for highlighting social issues and celebrating female filmmakers. For instance, the “Environment, Science and Sustainability Focus” will include Matt Tyrnauer’s Citizen Jane: Battle for the City, Mila Aung-Thwin and Van Royko’s Let There Be Light, David Fairhead’s Mission Control: The Unsung Heroes of Apollo, David McIlvride and Roger Williams’s Riverblue: Can Fashion Save the Planet?, Derek Murphy’s Sarasota Half in Dream, Sam Wainwright Douglas’s Through the Repellent Fence: A Land Art Film, Matt Rutherford’s The University, plus several shorts. The festival will also include Anderson’s Mr. Chibbs as part of its “Sports in Cinema” focus and Kopple’s This is Everything: Gigi Gorgeous as one of its LGBT-themed films.

Narrative features will include Beach Rats (written and directed by Eliza Hittman), Clash (directed by Mohamed Diab), Graduation (written and directed by Cristian Mungiu), Katie Says Goodbye (written and directed by Wayne Roberts), One Week and a Day (written and directed by Asaph Polonsky) and The Wound (directed by John Trengove).

Among the documentary features will be The Challenge (directed by Yuri Ancarani), The Cinema Travellers (directed by Shirley Abraham and Amit Madheshiya), Dina (directed by Dan Sickles and Antonio Santini), The Force (directed by Peter Nicks), Last Men in Aleppo (by Firas Fayyad and Steen Johannessen) and Nowhere to Hide (directed by Zaradasht Ahmed).

Narrative Spotlight films will include Brett Haley’s The Hero, Ken Loach’s I, Daniel Blake, Joshua Z Weinstein’s Menashe, Amber Tamblyn’s Paint It Black and Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne’s The Unknown Girl. The Independent Visions competition will feature Aisha Tyler’s Axis and Mike Ott’s California Dreams, among others.

Tickets go on sale March 17 and cost $15 for the general public. For more information, visit

© 2017 Orlando Weekly / MeierMovies, LLC