Get ready, it’s almost time for the Sarasota Film Festival once more.
The 10-day festival of movies, parties, conversations with filmmakers and more (the 12th annual) takes place April 9-18, and details were provided at a kick-off event at the Longboat Key Club’s Tennis Gardens on Monday evening.
There’s significant star power lined up, as Oscar winner Kevin Kline will be on hand for the opening night film, The Extra Man, in which he stars as a male escort for wealthy older ladies who trains a younger man to follow in his footsteps. That film will be shown at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, and a dessert reception there will also be followed by a Late Night After Party at Ceviche restaurant.
Other stars slated to be in attendance include Patricia Clarkson, Ben Foster (here last year with the film The Messenger), Vincent D’Onofrio, Stanley Tucci and Steve Buscemi. Buscemi will also direct a staged reading of a work in progress, an adaptation of Williams S. Burroughs’ Queer written by The Messenger’s Oren Moverman. Clarkson, Kline, D’Onofrio and Disney Feature Animation’s Don Hahn will also participate in the festival’s Conversation Series, taking place this year at Florida Studio Theatre’s Gompertz Theatre downtown, a change from last year’s venue.
Other hot news from the Monday announcement: Director John Landis (Animal House, The Blues Brothers, Michael Jackson’s Thriller) will be honored with a tribute Saturday, April 17 at the Sarasota Opera House that will include a multimedia retrospective of his work. Landis will also participate in an in-depth conversation about his career. And the festival’s closing night film, Saturday Night by James Franco, gives us a glimpse into the workings behind the scenes of the Saturday Night Live television show; a few of the stars of that show may be here for the screening, although their names were not yet announced.
In addition to stars and the films above, the festival is partnering with Through Women’s Eyes (GCC UNIFEM) to present movies by women filmmakers and will also shine a light on Florida filmmakers with Views from the Sunshine State: Sarasota & Florida Filmmakers and on films tracing the Jewish experience with Cinema Diaspora: International Perspectives on Jewish Identity.
A new program launched this year is the festival’s Investors Lab, designed to help bring together established movie makers and potential investors to foster the development of independent films. The Lab takes place April 16-18 at the Longboat Key Club and Resort, but it is not open to the public at large.
In all, 168 films (including shorts) from 30 countries will be screened during the festival. There will be much more information posted on the festival’s Web site, sarasotafilmfestival.com, by Friday, March 19, which is when tickets for individual films go on sale. Also, the festival’s box office this year is located at 1990 Main St. in the Synovus Bank building, directly across from the Regal Cinemas Hollywood 20, where all movies but the opening night film will be shown. You can also call (941) 366-6200 for more information.