Documentary (Feature)

A sneak preview of FIORETTA

Sarasota Film Festival 2023

Sneak Preview of Fioretta – With a Conversation with Randy Schoenberg. Randy Schoenberg (grandson of the famous composer) and his 18-year-old son Joey journey through Europe and the centuries to reclaim 500 years of family history. Along the way, they encounter kings, mystics, and a false messiah, as well as the long-forgotten ordinary people who witnessed Europe’s distant and recent past: the expulsions, the Holocaust, Communism, and, most recently, the refugee crisis precipitated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Randy is renowned for recovering Nazi-looted art, but his greatest achievement might just be reuniting the fractured and scattered shards of his own family.

An Evening with Randy Schoenberg featuring a sneak preview screening of Matthew Mishory’s FIORETTA. In Attendance: Matthew Mishory, Director; Randy Schoenberg, Subject.

La Claridad

Sarasota Film Festival 2023

A recent restoration of a 1924 Spanish Revival house reveals an amazing history of Palm Beach and the wider South Florida region. La Claridad tells the story of a 1924 landmarked house. The film covers the recent restoration of La Claridad, and a compelling history of the region emerges as we discover the amazing history of the 1924 Spanish Revival house and the neighborhood in which it sits. In the 1920s The Everglades Club, Worth Avenue, and Golfview Road represented the avant-garde of architecture and design, and the look and feel of this neighborhood would help define Palm Beach for the next hundred years. Former residents, historians, architects, and tradesman join current owners Betsy and Paul Shiverick in an ensemble cast to tell a thought-provoking and amusing story of the house, the town of Palm Beach, and the wider South Florida region.

Humanity Stoked

Sarasota Film Festival 2023

Featuring world-famous skateboarders, scientists, artists, musicians, activists and educators, all of whom are skateboarders. The iconic cast, respected as leaders in their fields, reveal their unique experiences and insights on being human. Their perspectives on issues that affect humanity’s ability to move forward together are shaped by their own backgrounds, and often inspired by their love of skateboarding. The conversations focus on understanding fear, depression, addiction, education, activism, philanthropy, racism, sexism, homophobia, and the environment. The film’s purpose is to inspire deeper thinking, more empathic perspectives, and open conversations about human issues.

Live Q&A with Producer/Director Michael Ien Cohen and cast member Chris Dyer.

King Coal

Sarasota Film Festival 2023

Central Appalachia is a place of mountains and myth. Director Elaine McMillion Sheldon knows this well, calling those mountains home. Coal has had a profound influence on this community’s identity, but Sheldon dares to consider what future stories might look like out of the shadow of coal, now that relationships to coal are changing. She takes us on an alluring cinematic journey through the past, present, and future of Appalachia. Sheldon’s distinct vision remixes present-day moments of life in a coal-mining town with archival footage and atmospheric invocations of the land to alchemize something new — a rare, nuanced depiction of this community. A young girl learning the story of coal anchors the journey while Sheldon’s poetic voiceover guides us through the experience and an expressive score differentiates the reality of coal from a more imaginative world. The hybrid approach allows Sheldon to explore the act of storytelling itself and is a magical reclamation of the power of stories to shape how a region sees itself. The end of one story welcomes the beginning of another.

Lost Angel: The Genius of Judee Sill

Sarasota Film Festival 2023

Lost Angel is an intimate portrait of a musical artist, largely, told by Judee herself. Through recorded interviews, concert intros and entries in her personal journal the film provides deep access to the source of her unique musical creativity and to the darker recesses of her struggles with addiction. Additional interviews with friends and contemporaries, including Graham Nash, Linda Ronstadt, Jackson Browne and David Geffen give a first-hand experience of Judee’s personality, talents and struggles. Ultimately, it is a story of redemption. While not finding a large audience in her lifetime, Judee’s music has been rediscovered inspiring some of top musicians today. Here the film features Adrienne Lenker (Big Thief), Natalie Mering (Weyes Blood) and Shawn Colvin to help bring to life Judee’s core belief that you could “save someone through music.”

In Attendance: Andrew Brown, Co-Director

Riders on the Storm

Sarasota Film Festival 2023

Riders on the Storm captures a pivotal moment in Afghan history and offers a rare and visceral look at a ruthless sports culture where champions become marked men. Khaiber Akbarzada is on the verge of being hailed as Afghanistan’s best player of Buzkashi, the ancient national sport where horsemen battle for control of a headless goat. To many, the violence and opportunism on display in the arena are a metaphor for the country’s anything-goes politics – and the line between war and sport is starting to blur. As US forces begin their withdrawal, ending the longest war in American history, the Taliban is gaining ground. Twenty-five-year-old Khaiber achieves his goal of winning the national tournament and being named top rider in the land, but soon learns that fame is both a gift and a curse. As militants take over the country, they are targeting influential figures, forcing Khaiber to go into hiding to avoid the same fate as his uncle, a legendary buzkashi star who was assassinated during the civil war. Ultimately, Khaiber must make a choice that will alter the course of his life.

Town Destroyer

Sarasota Film Festival 2023

TOWN DESTROYER explores the ways we look at art and history at a time of racial reckoning. The story focuses on a dispute over historic murals depicting the life of George Washington: slaveowner, general, land speculator, President, and a man Seneca leaders called “Town Destroyer” after he ordered their villages destroyed during the Revolutionary War. The murals, at San Francisco’s George Washington High School, were painted in 1936 by left-wing artist Victor Arnautoff, a student of Diego Rivera. The murals both praise Washington and–rare for the time—critically depict him overseeing his slaves and directing the bloody seizure of Native lands. Most controversial is a provocative image of a dead Indian–life-size, eye-level, and at the center of the school. Opponents of the murals–led by Native American parents–demand the School Board order them painted over. For them, the murals’ graphic depictions of slavery and genocide are racist and harm students, Native students in particular. Defenders of the murals warn of the dangers of censoring priceless works of art, and urge the Board to ‘teach the murals.’ Heated debates spill into the community and make national headlines.

Karen Carpenter: Starving for Perfection

Sarasota Film Festival 2023

She was the first in a long line of celebrities to suffer from an eating disorder during an era when the vastly misunderstood phenomenon brought shame and public humiliation. For the first time, we hear Karen Carpenter’s personal struggle in her own voice through never-before released recordings and through the legendary voices of those who knew her and were inspired by her music. As the #1 American musical act of the 1970s, the Carpenters were on top of the world, producing a string of pop masterpieces, including “Close to You,” “We’ve Only Just Begun,” and “Rainy Days and Mondays.” But behind closed doors, Karen’s quest for perfection resulted in low self esteem, a disheartening love life, and a public battle with anorexia nervosa, which ended with her untimely death at the age of only 32. Forty years after her death comes KAREN CARPENTER: STARVING FOR PERFECTION, a captivating, revealing, and unvarnished documentary providing astounding new insight into the singer’s tragically short life and enduring musical legacy.

The Conspiracy

Sarasota Film Festival 2023

Narrated by Mayim Bialik and directed by Maxim Pozdorovkin, THE CONSPIRACY is an animated documentary that shows how a centuries-old myth has moved from the fringe to the mainstream, becoming a pillar of modern anti- Semitism. To tell this story, the film uses the first-hand accounts of three prominent Jewish families. We follow the Dreyfuses, Warburgs, and Bronsteins as the conspiracy develops and the lives of these families are woven further into its net. Alternating between the stories of a French soldier, a German banker, and a Russian revolutionary, the film spans centuries to show the recurrence of the same conspiracy theory. This conspiracy that ravages the lives of our characters is set against the backdrop of a larger story about the Jewish people. From Simonini’s letter blaming the French Revolution on a Jewish conspiracy to the poisonous Protocols of the Elders of Zion, conmen and forgers spin an elaborate web of lies blaming Jews for the ills of the world. Disaffected citizens conjure up alternative explanations for democratic progress, and delusional nationalists pin the failures of their country on Jewish residents. Antisemites attempt to justify their hate with pseudo-scientific race theory. All the way up to the present day. The Conspiracy ends by returning to Robert Bowers in his Pittsburgh apartment. Convinced that an aid society, with ties to the Warburg family, is conspiring to replace the white race by bringing in refugees, Bowers commits mass murder at the Tree of Life Synagogue.

Radioactive: The Women of Three Mile Island

Sarasota Film Festival 2023

A feature documentary about the 1979 Three Mile Island meltdown–the worst commercial nuclear accident in U.S. history. RADIOACTIVE covers the never-before-told stories of four intrepid homemakers, two lawyers who took the local community’s case all the way to the Supreme Court, and a young female journalist who was caught in the radioactive crossfire. RADIOACTIVE features activist and actor Jane Fonda–whose film, CHINA SYNDROME (a fictional account of a nuclear meltdown), opened 12 days before the real disaster in Pennsylvania. RADIOACTIVE also breaks the story of a radical new health study (in process) that may finally expose the truth of the meltdown. For over forty years, the nuclear industry has done all in their power to cover up their criminal actions, claiming, as they always do, “No one was harmed and nothing significant happened.” In this thrilling feminist documentary, indomitable women fight back against the nuclear industry Goliath to expose one of the worst cover-ups in U.S. history.

Hidden Master: The Legacy of George Platt Lynes

Sarasota Film Festival 2023

George Platt Lynes began his career photographing celebrities, and it’s those portraits along with his extravagant fashion work that he’s best remembered for today. However, George’s heart, his passion, and his greatest talent lay elsewhere, in his work with the male nude. This work, sensuous and radically explicit for its time, has only recently begun being fully discovered and appreciated for the revolution that it represents – a man capturing his fantasies as a gift, a window to a future his camera saw coming before anyone else. From visionary art director Sam Shahid, HIDDEN MASTER features a stunning collection of photography from the 1930s-50s, uncovering the life of Lynes less known: his gifted eye for the male form, his long term friendships with Gertrude Stein and Alfred Kinsey, and his lasting influence as one of the first openly gay American artists.

In Attendance:Sam Shahid, Director.

20 Days In Mariupol

Sarasota Film Festival 2023

A team of Ukrainian journalists from the Associated Press (AP) trapped in the besieged city of Mariupol struggle to continue their work documenting atrocities of the Russian invasion. As the only international reporters who remain in the city, they capture what later become defining images of the war: dying children, mass graves, the bombing of a maternity hospital, and more. After nearly a decade covering international conflicts, including the Russia-Ukraine war for theAP,20 DAYS IN MARIUPOL is Mstyslav Chernov’s first feature length film. Drawing on Chernov’s daily news dispatches and personal footage of his own country at war, 20 DAYS INMARIUPOL is a vivid, harrowing account of civilians caught in the siege, as well as a window into what it’s like to report from a conflict zone, and the impact of such journalism around the globe

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