The Sarasota Film Festival debuted this weekend with the opening feature, “Bull Street,” a stirring and emotional drama Directed by Lynn Dow, in tribute to her grandmother. Based on a real story, the film features a small-town African American female lawyer who faces local politics that centers around a battle when her estranged father’s family tries to evict her and her grandmother from the only house she has ever known in South Carolina.

I’ll be binge watching films for the next week, and hopefully film lovers will too, as the selection of over 200 films screened, including feature films, shorts, documentaries, and kid-friendly picks.

The Sarasota Film Festival has a rich history spanning over 25 years. Here are the key details about the festival’s history: The Sarasota Film Festival was founded in 1998 with the goal of bringing independent and artistic films to the Sarasota community. In its early years, the festival grew steadily until the recession hit in 2008. Around this time, Mark Famiglio was brought in to take over leadership of the festival.  Famiglio’s first major decision was to adapt the festival to the changing film industry landscape after the financial collapse. He enlisted the help of a director from the Cannes Film Festival to brainstorm ideas to keep the Sarasota Film Festival alive. Despite the challenges, the festival stayed true to its original mission of showcasing independent films in Sarasota’s ideal setting. Famiglio and his team kept costs down and relied on a dedicated group of volunteers to provide the festival’s foundation. The festival continued to thrive, even during the COVID-19 pandemic, by pivoting to include more online options and utilizing outdoor locations for screenings and events.  The Sarasota Film Festival has become a beloved institution in the community.  It has maintained a high level of programming quality and continues to provide opportunities for filmmakers to interact with the engaged, film-loving Sarasota audience.

The SFF runs through April 14 with showings  during the day and also into the evening at Hollywood Regal and Cinebistro. See a listing here for all movies and to purchase tickets.

Don’t miss…..

Steve Buscemi: 9/11 Hero | Snopes.comCLOSING NIGHT FILM
Florida Premiere
dir. Steve Buscemi (USA), 2022
In this stirring testament to the power of empathy, Tessa Thompson (in
a masterful performance) plays a crisis hotline worker enduring the
pressures of her job in this new film from director Steve Buscemi.

~ Andrea Mastrocinque Martone

Andrea Mastrocinque-Martone is Sarasota Event Calendar’s Chief Editor. She is the former A & E Editor for Sarasota Observer Newspapers and is currently a public relations consultant.