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wTodd Solondz, director of Dark Horse, our Centerpiece film, will be our Sunday IN CONVERSATION guest at NOON at Sarasota High School. Moderated by the legendary DAVID CARR (The New York Times; last year's PAGE ONE documentary). Two brilliant, wild, witty and outspoken take-no-prisoner geniuses in a one-on-one you won't want to miss!  CLICK HERE TO BUY TICKETS NOW!

(Photo courtesy of Becky Boletti)

If you are a fan of our in-depth Inside the Actors Studio-style discussions, then you must see this one. You will see it unfold live on stage before you and YOU will have the chance to ask questions of one of the most talented and controversial directors of our time! (Todd is also NYU Tisch faculty!) Dark Horse screened Friday at 7:30 PM at the Sarasota Opera House to a sold out crowd with Todd and star Jordan Gelber in attendance. CLICK THE GREEN BUTTON TO HEAR JORDAN SPEAK IN AN EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW AFTER THE SCREENING ABOUT HIS WORK WITH TODD SOLONDZ!


SFF proudly presents a retrospective of Todd's incredible movies, including Welcome to the Dollhouse, which launched him into international prominence. If you like your movies insightful, provacative and oftentimes very funny, then you are in for a treat. We have a video interview with the director and trailers for his best known films. Prepared to be enlightened and entertained!


Dark Horse tells the story of a surprising romance between an out-of-shape, avid toy collector (whose collection collects him, as the director points out below) and a beautiful woman who is the dark horse of her family. Also starring in Dark Horse are screen legends Christopher Walken (The Deer Hunter, Wedding Crashers) and Mia Farrow (Rosemary's Baby, Hannah and Her Sisters) plus Justin Bartha (The Hangover) and Zachary Booth (Damages, Nick and Nora's Infinite Playlist.) Solondz is known for films centering on outsiders colliding with a world that doesn't even attempt to understand them and Dark Horse is sad, sweet and funny. Mark your calandars now!

The following video presents the director speaking about the film and ends with a brief clip from the movie. Also on stage are stars Jordan Gelber (Boardwalk Empire) and Selma Blair (Cruel Intentions, Hellboy). Enjoy!


The film that catapulted Solondz into prominence is Welcome to the Dollhouse, the story of Dawn Wiener (Wienerdog to her tormentors) an unnatractive teen girl whose crush on the hot and seemingly unattainable Steve Rodgers leads her into a world of trouble. This instant classic from 1995 won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance and netted star Heather Matarazzo an Independent Spirit Award for Best Debut Performance. The story is both inciteful and cringe-worthy, filled with both truth and heart. Take a look at the trailer then rush to Video Renaissance on Bee Ridge or get the movie through Netflix or VOD. It's a gem! And speaking of gems involving teens, be sure to check out the latest with our youthFEST offerings!


The director's follow-up was the seeringly awkward Happiness starring Phillip Seymour Hoffman and a fantastic ensemble cast including Lara Flynn Boyle, Jon Lovitz, Jane Adams and more. As you watch Solodz's films, be on the lookout for mentions of Livingston, New Jersey, a locale that features in much of his work. You will find controversial subjects in his films, including abortion and child abuse, but the director treats every topic with honesty and the eye of an auteur. Here comes Happiness! (Oh, and some might say happiness is sponsoring or volunteering with the festival. Or maybe a membership. Just a thought!)


This is another provacative and fascinating study of dysfunctional people featuring Selma Blair. She is joined by Paul Giamatti, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Xander Berkley and others. Storytelling looks at the frustration of youths in high school and college and features gay themes. Issues of race, sex, celebrity and exploitation are painstakingly explored. Take a look!


Palindromes tells the story of a 12 year-old girl obsessed with motherhood and the strange journey of discovery on which she embarks. Featuring Jennifer Jason Leigh, Ellen Barkin and a stunning young cast. Ironically, though this is a film about children, it is not a film for children. (Parents, check this one out on your own first.)

And here's a cool inside SFF tidbit for you: Allison Koehler, our Director of Education, tells us, "For our See Jane Studio program (in partnership with the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media) I used Solondz's Palindromes as a model for our film prompt! The kids are creating stories about a main character that they are not assigning a gender to, and then each student in the group (both boys and girls) are playing the main character on screen!" Take a look here for more information about Allison's outstanding free education programs! Here's the trailer!  


From 2009, Life During Wartime is the dirrector's most recent film available for viewing. Starring Ciaran Hinds, Charlotte Rampling, Shirley Henderson, Allison Janney, Ally Sheedy and Sarasota's Paul Reubens (among other fine actors). Solondz explores weighty themes like forgiveness and starting over with deadpan humor and an eye for tender hearts beating beneath rough and damaged exteriors. Enjoy! 

The Insider

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Sarasota Film Festival
April 4-13, 2014

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