Susan Feniger: Forked

Sarasota Film Festival 2024

Florida Premiere. When celebrity chef Susan Feniger decides to open her own restaurant without her longtime business partner Mary Sue Milliken, the task is daunting. With no support from their co-owned restaurant kitchens and staff, Feniger must use her home to test brand new recipes, figure out design and construction, gather the team, and basically start over like a “newbie.” Her dream is to open a new Los Angeles restaurant serving global street food: Susan Feniger’s STREET. Emmy Award-winning filmmaker and Feniger’s spouse Liz Lachman, a constant companion on her journey, follows Feniger across the globe tasting street food and bonding with the street stand owners, and all the way back home where she tackles the logistics of the opening. In this wildly entertaining film, Lachman covers Feniger’s passions and struggles in a business where often it’s not about IF one fails…but HOW.

Lady Like

Sarasota Film Festival 2024

London-born, ballet-trained, San Francisco-based Rex Wheeler, known to the world as drag queen Lady Camden, is catapulted into the spotlight when he becomes a contestant on season 14 of RuPual’s Drag Race. As Rex/Lady struggles to manage the demands of newfound fame, he must come to terms with a traumatic childhood in Camden that drove him to seek joy, fantasy, and escape through the performing arts. Tracing the journey from local San Francisco queen to international celebrity, this inventive and heartfelt film explores how Lady Camden helped Rex deal with his past traumas and embrace the joys of life.

Highlighting the art of drag as a tool for hope, purpose and healing for so many in the queer community, Lady Like is a fitting celebration of an artist who, no matter how hard the fall, they’ll always pick themselves back up.

Left Alone Rhapsody – The Musical Memoir of Pianist John Bayless

Sarasota Film Festival 2024

Florida Premiere. At 25, Leonard Bernstein protégé John Bayless debuted at Carnegie Hall, performing “Rhapsody in Blue” with full orchestra, initiating a 30-year-long concert and recording career as a solo pianist, composer, and improvisor. At 54, a left-brain stroke immobilized his right side.The music stopped. John’s magical ‘first act’ disappeared. Left Alone Rhapsody – The Musical Memoir of Pianist John Bayless chronicles John’s rise from four-year-old Texas musical prodigy to international star; his fall post-stroke and struggle to transcend paralysis; and his determination to reinvent himself as a one-handed musician and storyteller. The question is: With just his left hand alone, how far will he go? This is John’s musical story.

In Attendance: John Bayless, Stewart M. Schulman, Director

No One Asked You

Sarasota Film Festival 2024

Florida Premiere. No One Asked You follows reproductive rights organization Abortion Access Front over five years at the frontlines of the escalating war over Roe Vs. Wade. Led by The Daily Show co-creator, comedian, and disruptor-extraordinaire Lizz Winstead, the intrepid team of activists and comics battles misogyny with comedy on their “Habitat for Humanity Meets USO Tour” to connect communities, eradicate abortion stigma and protect choice for all. Winstead and her merry band of activists take us to the very front lines, risking their own safety by coming face-to-face with clinic protestors by day and performing and raising awareness by night. An urgent and humorous account of the serious work that this audacious group is doing to battle misogyny and fight for reproductive rights in a divided country.

In Attendance: Andrea Raby, Producer

Pet Shop Days

Sarasota Film Festival 2024

Florida Premiere. In an act of desperation, impulsive black sheep Alejandro (Dario Yazbek Bernal) flees his home in Mexico. On the run from his unforgiving father, he ends up in New York City. There, he meets Jack, a pet store worker whose own, similarly wealthy family life is fracturing after his father (Willem Dafoe) betrays his mother (Emmanuelle Seigner). Together, the two young men enter a whirlwind romance, sending them into a dead-end world of passion, drugs, and depravity.With Pet Shop Days, first-time feature director Olmo Schnabel, son of artist and filmmaker Julian Schnabel, has crafted a gritty throwback to American independent cinema. (No wonder Martin Scorsese signed on as an executive producer.) Imbued with raw emotion and propulsive pacing and led by an explosive performance by Bernal (Gael’s half-brother) as the wild and wounded Alejandro, Pet Shop Days is a riveting portrait of lost young men in search of connection.

A House Is Not a Disco

Sarasota Film Festival 2024

Florida Premiere. A House Is Not A Disco documents a year-in-the-life in the world’s most iconic “homo-normative” community: Fire Island Pines. Situated fifty miles from New York City, this storied queer beach town finds itself in the midst of a renaissance as a new generation of millennial homeowners reimagine The Pines for a new, more inclusive era. A large cast of unforgettable eccentrics, activists, drifters old-timers and first-timers reflect on the legacy of The Pines while preparing their beloved village for the biggest challenge it has faced since the AIDS crisis: rising seas caused by climate change. Directed by veteran queer actor Brian J. Smith (Sense8, Matrix Revolutions) in an enchanting documentary debut.

In Attendance: Brian J. Smith

Merchant Ivory

Sarasota Film Festival 2024

Oscar winner James Ivory began his storied career making documentaries in India. While screening one at India’s Consulate in New York City, he met his life and business partner, Ismail Merchant. Merchant Ivory is the first definitive feature documentary to lend new and compelling perspectives on the partnership, both professional and personal, and their primary associates, writer Ruth Prawer Jhabvala and composer Richard Robbins. Footage from more than fifty interviews – including fresh takes from Vanessa Redgrave, Emma Thompson, Helena Bonham Carter, and of course the spry 95-year-old Ivory himself – give voice to the family of actors and technicians who helped define Merchant Ivory’s Academy Award-winning work of consummate quality and intelligence. With six Oscar winners among the notable artists participating, these close and often long-term collaborators intimately detail the transformational cinematic creativity and personal and professional drama of the wandering company that left an indelible impact on film culture.

In Attendance: Steven Soucy, Director

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.

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.

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