Following at the heels of Tampa Bay’s Gasparilla International Film Festival is one of the highlights of Sarasota each year: The Sarasota Film Festival (SFF), which celebrates 25 years of offering some of the most compelling, independent films, documentaries, shorts and more.

Starting today (March 25 through April 2), an impressive roster of top notch productions will be offered for in-person viewing at various venues throughout Sarasota, and include a wide range of compelling themes – including the documentary ‘Unfiltered: The Truth about Oysters’ (the importance of oysters to our environment, and the vanishing of Florida oyster beds is a big concern) – to another Sundance favorite: Judy Blume Forever (telling the story of the woman whose trailblazing books changed the way millions of readers understand themselves, their sexuality, and what it means to grow up).

Sundance winners aside, there is a short film that is a “must see: “Spare Me” Reveals Sarasota’s History as a Sundown Town. Sundown towns, also known as sunset towns, gray towns, or sundowner towns, are all-white municipalities or neighborhoods in the United States that practice a form of racial segregation by excluding non-whites via some combination of discriminatory local laws, intimidation or violence. Local 26-year old junior year film student (Ringling College of Art & Design) Will Mauricette touches on the history of racism in Sarasota through a father-son relationship in his latest film that he directed. He was inspired to produce the short film after he found out none of his college professors knew the meaning of what is a sundown town. Will Mauricette knew his short film, Spare Me, could deliver a balance of education and entertainment.

If you love local history, you’ll enjoy the setting of the eight-minute Spare Me is Sarasota in 1931, and the story is centered around a father-son relationship and a flat tire.

Fast forward another week and your head will spin with the voluminous choices (SO MANY CHOICES, SO LITTLE TIME!) , so sit back and read about some of Sarasota Events Editor’s top picks. If you have all the time in the world to binge watch films, go for it. Viewing times vary every day and are scheduled both in the afternoons and evenings.

“I am thrilled to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Sarasota Film Festival this year with a robust slate of films from an internationally renowned group of artists,” said Mark Famiglio, SFF Chairman and Board President. “We at SFF feel so proud to commemorate a quarter of a century of bringing dynamic lineups of films to the beautiful Florida Gulf Coast and the arts-loving community that calls it home. In the years to come we hope to continue showcasing emerging young talent from this generation and beyond, especially through our wonderfully curated annual youth programs.”

Film Line Up

The Conspiracy – a documentary must see this season – is an animated film about the biggest lie ever told: Jews plotting to take over the world. Behind the torch-bearing chants of “Jews will not replace us” is an age-old myth, and as this myth is followed from the fringe to the mainstream, three Jewish families are made into scapegoats, their names forever linked to the notion that Jews are a monolithic group set on world domination. The film will screen on Friday, March 31 and will be immediately followed by a panel conversation featuring producer Caroline Hirsch and local leaders in the Jewish community.

SFF also announced Spotlight screenings of Andrew Durham’s FAIRYLAND, which premiered at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival and stars Emilia Jones and Scoot McNairy, and follows a young girl raised by her single gay father in San Francisco, set against the backdrop of the city’s vibrant cultural scene in the 1970s and ’80s.

Additional spotlight movies (not a complete list) include:

Tickets and passes for the 25th annual Sarasota Film Festival are available for purchase now online at
and at the festival’s in-person box office locations. The box office will be open at the Sarasota Municipal Auditorium now through March 27th from 10AM to 5PM, and from March 28th through April 2nd from 9AM to 8PM; at CMX CinéBistro Siesta Key from March 25thnthrough April 2nd from 5PM to 8PM; and at Burns Court Cinema from March 25th through April 2nd from 12PM to 7PM.

About Sarasota Film Festival
Held annually in Sarasota, Florida, the Sarasota Film Festival emphasizes the best in cinema alongside exciting programs and events, with hundreds of films screened each year including features, documentaries, shorts, and kid-friendly picks. SFF brings the best new and established independent filmmakers to the Festival with local programs that showcase its idyllic community. The Sarasota Film Festival is a 501©3 non-profit arts organization. It is the  largest film fest in the Southeast, one of the largest in North America, and draws over 50,000 ticket holders annually.
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