A year ago SFF director Tom Hall strolled up to me at our Selby Gardens press launch event and said, "I have a prediction for you: Christopher Plummer, Best Supporting Actor Oscar-win for Beginners in 2012." And if you watched the presentation on Sunday, you know he nailed it!
Christopher Plummer made a lasting impression at SFF with his wit and candor, his air of both old Hollywood and new. Most impressive of all was his stunningly heartfelt performance as a man who delivers two startling revelations to his son: first that he is dying of cancer and second that he is gay. The performance earned Mr. Plummer not only an Oscar, but also a Golden Globe and a BAFTA Award (the British Academy Award) as well as wins and nominations from a host of film critics awards, the Screen Actors Guild, the GLAAD Media Awards, the Independent Spirit Awards and so many more. Now you can see this movie again and even take it home. It is currently available on DVD, Blu-ray, Netflix, Amazon Instant Video and many other platforms!
Here is a special treat for you loyal readers. The complete video of Christopher Plummer's In Conversation With interview from SFF 2011!
2011 youthFEST favorite The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore also triumphed at the Academy Awards taking home the prize for Best Animated Short Feature! Huge props to filmmakers William Joyce (award-winning childrens book author and illustrator) and Brandon Oldenburg (who has worked on films such as Robots and Spy Kids
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Some of your favorite documentaries from SFF 2011 are now available on DVD, Blu-ray, Netflix and Amazon Instant Video (and other platforms). So what are you waiting for? Whether you saw these incredible releases at SFF or have heard about them from friends who attended, now's your chance to see them again and own them for yourself. Such a deal!
PAGE ONE: A YEAR INSIDE THE NEW YORK TIMES
Page One: A Year Inside the New York Times was last year's opening night film and it was a stunning and thoroughly arresting look at the changing nature of print journalism in the wake of social media and online journalism plus a piercing portrayal of legendary journalists like David Carr and Brian Stelter (who came to support the film and to participate in a riveting and fun Q&A afterward). If you love documentaries that give you inside access to institutions you might never glimpse otherwise, this is the movie for you!
Just some of the platforms available:
Magnolia Pictures VOD
Amazon Instant Video # DVD # Blu-ray # Netflix
Academy Awarding winning director Errol Morris brings us the strange, twisted and utterly fascinating story of Joyce McKinney, a former beauty queen who landed in the center of a Mormon missionary kidnapping case and later emerged as the owner of the world's first commercially cloned dog. (And both Joyce and her dog made a surprise appearance at SFF). Anyhoo, it's a tumultuous tabloid tale from the
Time to once again update you on all things wild, crazy and genre-related in indie cinema. How about some vampires? The end of the world by zombies, asteroid and robot domination? Ghosts? Time-travelers? And all with amazing casts? We’ve got it all!
ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE
Jim Jarmusch fans, guess what? He’s making a vampire movie! (Now, now, don’t worry, he’s no stranger to genre, he did Ghost Dog after all.) The really cool thing here is that one of the stars is Tilda Swinton from last year’s acclaimed I Am Love at SFF (her film Julia also played here at SFF). Also starring is Mia Wasikowska from SFF’s That Evening Sun and Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, plus the legendary John Hurt and up-and-coming superstar Tom Hiddleston (also known as Loki from Thor and The Avengers). You might also want to look for Hiddleston in the acclaimed Wallender series starring Kenneth Branagh and in Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris playing F. Scott Fitzgerald. (The guy has range!)
The Jarmusch film is titled Only Lovers Left Alive. It’s early days and this one isn’t even slated to shoot until later this year in Germany. And as we in the business know, “Nothin’s nothin’ until…” Meaning, a movie isn’t a movie until you’re out there shooting it for reals. But it sounds so darn cool I couldn’t help mentioning it. And I really, really doubt that anyone’s going to be all sparkly in this one.
SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED
Safety Not Guaranteed features SFF alum
SFF is dedicated to shining a light on the accomplishments of women in film. Over the coming months I'll be telling you about our many programs focusing on the achievements of women in the industry. Today we catch up with Patti Smith, Sarah Green, Greta Gerwig and more SFF alums!
Oscar-nominated producer Sarah Green, winner of SFF 2011's Producer Award, is known for her many collaborations with filmmaking legend Terence Malick including the current Oscar nominee Tree of Life (nominated for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Cinematography). Sarah has another film out that is well worth your attention. Take Shelter was just released on Valentine's Day on DVD and Blu-ray. The film features a stunning performance by Michael Shannon (Boardwalk Empire, The Man of Steel) whom many critics believed would net him a best actor nod. It is a challenging and suspenseful story of a man who might be going mad-or might be seeing visions of an imminent and very real disaster from which he must protect his family. Check it out!
Sarah will re-team with Michael Shannon for the upcoming Mud also starring Reese Witherspoon, Matthew McConaughey and Ray McKinnon (That Evening Sun) and for further collaborations with Malick featuring Christian Bale, Natalie Portman, Cate Blanchett, Ryan Gosling and Rooney Mara.
No one has rocked our house in recent years like Patti Smith. Often called rock's poet laureate, Patti performed an astonishing set at our After Party, took
Photographs provided by Rod Millington
Beautiful Noise was one of the most popular films at last year's festival. The combination of a fantastic musical soundtrack, handsome production values, an engaging cast and an inspiring storyline made this locally produced feature a favorite for many. Now director Steve Tatone is tackling a thriller with Armand Assante titled Blind Pass and planning a return to the Beautiful Noise franchise. We caught up with him recently and this is what he had to say!
INSIDER: What has been happening with Beautiful Noise since it played at the festival?
STEVE TATONE: The film played exceptionally well at SFF and other film festivals. Because of the strong audience reactions at SFF and elsewhere, I decided (after consulting several colleagues in the industry) to pull back on Beautiful Noise and concentrate on the next film in the franchise, Serenade. The new movie focuses on events that took place before Beautiful Noise and will have a little better budget. The plan is then to focus on distributing Serenade either through traditional means or digitally following the Ed Burns model, and then releasing Beautiful Noise afterward so that the films play in chronological order.
INSIDER: What else can you tell us about the Beautiful Noise franchise?
STEVE TATONE: It's been a very interesting journey with the film. It's taught me a lot. The soundtrack album was a smash in regards of one out of four people who saw the movie bought the soundtrack (now
SFF's first Town Hall was held Wednesday, February 8 at the Selby Library. The turnout was amazing and we were thrilled by the passion and enthusiasm of all who attended. Thank you. A recap of the event follows. But first, if you have questions for the festival, send them to
Your questions will be answered here on our blog.
The evening began with a presentation by SFF Director Tom Hall detailing the history and current state of the festival on a number of fronts including our financial status. The importance of community and education was highly stressed, as was accessibility and our desire to hear your feedback. "We want to provide information that empowers you to make the most of your festival experience."
SFF's sterling reputation as a filmmaker-friendly showcase and high-ranking position among national and international festivals (not to mention reviews such as Variety calling us "the acme of regional film festivals") was also touched upon. "Artists who attend SFF send their work again because they want to come back." Tom attributed the response of filmmakers and national journalists who return time and again to you, our loyal audience and supporters, "a community filled with great supporters of the arts and of film".
Allison Koehler, Director of Education, discussed our wonderful array of free educational programs for students eighteen and under. These include our Young Filmmakers Showcase, Reel Life Studio, Kids VIP Trip, and the
News flash! Wild and provocative genre films are becoming a staple of film festivals worldwide and SFF is no exception. In recent years we've brought you Another Earth, Trollhunter, Don't Go in the Woods, The Oregonian, and others. SFF Sideways Cinema is here to give you the heads up on more edgy and cool titles — including one featuring this guy!
Number one at the box office this week is Chronicle, the teen superpowers movie written by Max Landis, son of SFF alum John Landis (director of The Blues Brothers, Animal House, Coming to America, Burke and Hare). Max has written for his dad in the past (Masters of Horror: The Deer Woman), so fingers-crossed he'll do it again and one day we can have 'em both at SFF. (Hey, I can dream...)
For fans of last year's Another Earth, here's a visually stunning, mind-bending romance set on alternate earths starring Kirsten Dunst (fresh off Lars von Trier's Melancholia) and Jim Sturgess (Across the Universe). It's called Upside Down and it's a Romeo and Juliet-style SF-action-romance that has to be seen to be believed. So take a look!
So, you didn't get enough William S. Burroughs when we had both the documentary about his life and a staged reading of Queer performed here by an all-star cast? Well, John Dies at the End isn't Boroughs, but the influence of Boroughs and Phillip K. Dick sure can be felt in this tale of a drug with the street name soy sauce that promotes out of body experiences.
One of the craziest things about John Dies
SFF is proud to have shown "Windfall" the riveting and powerful documentary by Laura Israel from First Run Features, a film that tackles the complex issue of wind power as alternative energy and its dangerous impact on communities. The film is now available on Snagfilms VOD through many Comcast and Verizon providers and it opens today at New York's Quad Cinema and at Facets in Chicago (among others). Take a look at the trailer for this incredible documentary and be sure to seek it out on VOD.
"Chilling!" -- The New York Times
"Fascinating, insightful." -- Huffington Post
"Gripping." -- Salon.com
"Could take the sails out of wind power." -- Wall Street Journal
Winner Grand Prize DOC NYC
Today we continue getting you up to speed on the big screen, big budget happenings with some of your favorite SFF alums—including this guy, who's about to be seen as Caesar Flickerman in "Hunger Games". Sounds like a fairy tale come true, don't ya think?
Speaking of fairy tales, when you think of Hansel and Gretel, should you think A) 'trail of bread crumbs', B) 'uh, let's pass on desert, evil witch', or C) 'Sarasota Film Festival'? The answer is C, of course! But wait, how do we leap from SFF to a big screen version of a classic fairy tale? Sound like an impossible mission (hint, hint)? The answers await you in this installment of Six Degrees of SFF!
Ever since a little film called "Alice in Wonderland 3D" by Tim Burton made one beeeelion dollars (no lie, that was it's worldwide gross) movie studios have been scrambling to develop big-budgeted lavishly-produced high-concept renderings or re-imaginings of classic fairy tales. And many of them star or feature SFF alums. Starting with...
"Jack the Giant Killer". Yup, that's right, beanstalk and all, I kid you not. And featured in the film is SFF alum (and Oscar nominee) Stanley Tucci as Lord Roderick. Playing Jack is Nicholas Hoult from BBC's "Skins," Tom Ford's "A Single Man," and "X-Men: First Class" where he got blue and furry as Beast... another fairy tale reference! Ewan McGregor (from SFF's "Beginners"), Bill Nighy and Ian McShane help round out the cast under the direction of Bryan Singer ("The Usual Suspects",
Want to know what some of SFF's most amazing alums are up to these days? Read on for updates about Kevin Kline, the fabulous Duplass Brothers, and SFF Independent Visions Award Winners Lena Dunham and Calvin Reader!
First up, Hollywood loves a good shaggy dog story (no, I'm not talking about Scoobie and the van, Shaggy was the... oh, nevermind.) Anyhoo, one particular shaggy dog story caught the attention of SFF's very own Kevin Kline. It's called "Darling Companion" and it tells the story of Beth Winter (played by Diane Keaton) a lonely woman whose husband (that Kline fellow) barely gives her the time of day. Her situation changes when she adopts a rescue dog that fills her heart with love—until her self-involved husband loses it. The film's examines the relationships of everyone searching for the missing dog, including Mad Men's Elizabeth Moss, Sam Shepard, Diane Wiest and actor/producer Mark Duplass (a name that should be very familiar to regular SFF attendees! More on him and his brother Jay in just a bit.
The film is directed by Lawrence Kasdan, he of "The Big Chill," "Body Heat," and "Silverado" fame. (He also wrote the script for some little-seen indie flick called "The Empire Strikes Back." I think it had something to do with ticked off cereal manufacturers...) This is Kline's sixth collaboration with Kasdan so expect their usual magic. And remember, Kasdan directed Geena Davis, who graced SFF 2011 with her charm, wit and brilliance, to an Oscar win for "The
If you're reading these words, then you've seen the stunningly beautiful original art adorning our brand spanking new website. This image will also serve as the visual centerpiece of SFF 2012's marketing campaign. We chatted — via these here interwebs — with amazing artist Vince Fraser from his home in J.O.E. (that would be Jolly Ole England) about his inspiration for this incredible work.
"Vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others," Vince tells us. "In keeping with this year's festival theme [See Things Differently], I wanted to create something instantly recognizable and memorable but also very different from last year's campaign. I feel I have achieved another visually stunning piece which celebrates the art of filmmaking."
When asked to tell us more about his process for creating this outstanding piece, he replies, "When I was approached to create an image for this year's festival I knew exactly which direction to take. I wanted to create an image that was softer, more fluid and ethereal than the past images. For the color palette I took inspiration from the brilliance of Sarasota, the blues of the beautiful clear waters, combined with the drama of sunsets. Once I had the basic composition and color palette I then started to add elements evocative of the artistry of film. I wanted the final piece to mimic film's mystical ability to spirit the viewer away on a flight of imagination and fantasy... To where? That depends on the individual."
And how do
Isn't it wonderful? Over the last few months we've worked hard to review, reorganize and refresh our entire online presence, bringing you the streamlined version you see here. We sincerely hope you will find it easy to use, navigate and engage wtih us. Click around and explore, or read on for more about the functionality.
Overall, we really wanted to simplify both the site's look and its architecture. Thus the basic black and white with SFF-themed accent colors setting off the really important stuff: our films, events and outreach programs.
Check out the new navigation at the top of the page, too. To the far left you'll find general info under the "About SFF" drop-down menu. Want to know more about this year's Festival including the films and events to be featured? Chose the "2012 Festival" drop-down for lots of options related to our annual festivites in April. The "Outreach" menu has info on our education department and community partners and the "News" tab holds info for press as well as the link to our in-house blog, a great source of constant updates on all things SFF. If you want to donate to, volunteer for, or sponsor The SFF, you'll find all those options under the "Support SFF" tab. Feel free to contact us to learn more about anything if browsing the site still leaves you wanting more.
In addition to the new design and navigation setup, our web solutions team, Destiny Group, built our new site using a content management solution called Joomla that gives us the
We certainly think you could be. To know for sure, we need you to come one, come all to our inaugural Town Hall from 5:30 to 7:30pm. on Wed., Feb. 8 at the Selby Public Library (1331 First St., downtown Sarasota). Let your voice be heard. If you have a question about SFF, ask it! If you've got an opinion, raise it! Heck, if you've got some rabble, rouse it!
Prepare to be enlightened and invigorated by a fun and fast-paced presentation about upcoming programs and as we drop the beat on a sizzling selection of tantalizing tidbits about how the festival is put together. Scheduled to appear are Tom Hall, our dedicated Director, Magida Diouri, our powerhouse Programmer, Veronica Pastore, our amazing Associate Director of Marketing, a cast of thousands, and at least 542 elephants. (Well, maybe just more wonderful staff from the festival.)
Afterward you'll have your chance to get all your burning questions answered, your opinions and ideas truly heard.
The buzzword behind the scenes at SFF 2012 is "inclusively". (See? Your friendly neighborhood Insider is always there to help you peak behind the curtain.) What does that mean? Veronica Pastore explains, "We want to include our entire community and are providing not only this forum but also new tools and media with which they can connect to us."
Speaking of which, I was privileged to attend our sensational launch event at the sumptuous Half Shell Oyster House on Main Street, just down the street from the Regal Hollywood
We’re happy to announce today that Tom Hall, who has served the festival as Director of Programming (2004-2009) and Artistic Director (2009-2011), has been named Director of The Sarasota Film Festival. Effective December 1, 2011, Hall will take on an expanded role in the management and financial development of The SFF, reporting directly to The Chairman of the Board. In addition to his managerial duties, Hall will continue to work on the festival’s film and artistic programs.
In addition, Magida Diouri was appointed Programmer and Veronica Pastore was appointed Associate Director of Marketing for the 2012 Festival. Diouri has worked with the SFF for five years and brings experience as a film booker, festival programmer and distribution professional to her new role as Programmer. Pastore joins The SFF after running her own company for the last year, managing social media and event marketing for local entertainment-based businesses in addition to being a regular contributor to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Day to day operations will fall under the purview of Kathy Jordan who returns as the Managing Director.
Former SFF Director of Programming Holly Herrick will remain with the SFF as Director of SFF Women, a program designed to promote independent filmmaking, collaboration, awareness and film education among women and girls of all ages.
“I think it is important that The Sarasota Film Festival continue to thrive. We are committed to serving our core mission of
It was a huge night for Sarasota Film Festival alumni at the IFP Gotham Awards in New York City! Artistic Director Tom Hall was on hand to see SFF 2011 Closing Night Film BEGINNERS win Best Ensemble Performance (with 2011 Tributee Christopher Plummer accepting) and tie TREE OF LIFE (produced by 2011 Producer’s Award Honoree Sarah Green) for Best Picture plus BETTER THIS WORLD, winner of the 2011 Best Documentary Feature Competition, win Best Documentary!
Congrats to all of our winning 2011 alums — Mike Mills, Christopher Plummer, Sarah Green, Katie Galloway, Kelly Duane de la Vega, Julie Goldman — and all of our nominated alumni on your great success this year! Here’s a full list:
GOTHAM AWARDS — Winners
GOTHAM AWARDS — Nominees
SFF honoree Christopher Plummer at last night's Gotham Awards, photo The Daily Mail/Splas
And congratulations to Sarasota Film
THE OREGONIAN is a harrowing and challenging film filled with hypnotic and disturbing imagery sure to haunt audience members for a good long time after viewing. I had the pleasure of chatting with director Calvin Lee Reeder twice at our Filmmakers Tribute event, first in the courtyard before the ceremony, then after his big win. (Fun aside, loved being part of a chat between the directors of HOW TO DIE IN OREGON and THE OREGONIAN. Only at SFF!
Calvin’s film won the Special Jury Prize Independent Visions Award at SFF 2011. Listen up for a chat with this young and very talented director!
Photo by Becky Boletti
I am–THE INSIDER—wanted by motion picture executives for revealing industry secrets to a public with the Right to Know, “The Insider” has spent over 15 years working behind the scenes in almost every aspect of “The Biz” developing a secret network of contacts, spies, moles, and highly trained counter-intelligence operatives and movie ninjas whose only goal is to inform and entertain you—and help you make this the best year of the Sarasota Film Festival ever!
So many people contribute in so many ways to our festival that it is impossible to thank them all. I had the great pleasure of speaking with just a few of the amazing individuals who have meant such a great deal to SFF 2011. Fingers crossed that I will have more follow-ups and thank yous soon!
This year SFF was graced with the presence of a stunningly elegant fleet of vehicles from Wilde Lexus of Sarasota. All of our VIP guests were truly transported in style and we are ever so grateful to Wilde for their generosity and support. Listen in as our Wilde man on the scene, David Trimble, talks about his 2011 festival experience. Robert Smithson of Trinity Graphic USA sits on our Executive Committee of the Board of Directors and his impact on SFF can literally be seen everywhere you look. Trinity Graphic USA has placed SFF’s creative on everything from Tervis Tumblers to our amazing commemorative posters and banners (not to mention our spiffy cars decked out from bumper to bumper with SFF logos and Vince Fraser’s incredible art) and much more! Listen up as he tells us what the festival means to him!
James Neumerski, Manager of the Brasserie Belge at 1990 Main Street, also chatted with me! Brasserie Belge provided our Filmmaker Lounge and we are so grateful. Our filmmakers have dined on exquisite entrees and sipped amazing drinks (including Stella Artois). We’ve all been made to feel incredibly welcome in an environment that your friendly neighborhood Insider plans to
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