Main Slate

The Wild Goose Lake

2020 Sarasota Film Festival

Chinese director Diao Yinan’s much anticipated follow-up to his breakthrough noir Black Coal, Thin Ice is an altogether more colorful crime drama. A formalist gangster thriller drenched in reds and blues, though imbued with a melancholic tone that speaks to contemporary China’s vast economic disparities, the elegantly down-and-dirty The Wild Goose Lake, set in the nooks and crannies of densely populated Wuhan, follows the desperate attempts of small-time mob boss Zhou Zenong (the charismatic Hu Ge) to stay alive after he mistakenly kills a cop and a dead-or-alive reward is put on his head. The filmmaker proves his action bona fides in a series of stylized set pieces and violent shocks—including a showstopper on a stolen motorbike—simultaneously devising a romance between Zhou and a mysterious young woman (Gwei Lun-mei) who’s out to either help or betray him. Diao deftly keeps multiple characters and chronologies spinning, all the while creating an atmosphere thick with eroticism and danger. A Film Movement release.

The Woman Who Loves Giraffes

2020 Sarasota Film Festival

In 1956, four years before Jane Goodall ventured into the world of chimpanzees and seven years before Dian Fossey left to work with mountain gorillas, 23-year-old biologist Anne Innis Dagg made an unprecedented solo journey to South Africa to study giraffes in the wild. In THE WOMAN WHO LOVES GIRAFFES Anne (now 86) retraces her steps, and with letters and stunning, original 16mm film footage offers an intimate window into her life as a young woman, juxtaposed with a first hand look at the devastating reality that giraffes are facing today. Both the world’s first ‘giraffologist’, whose research findings ultimately became the foundation for many scientists following in her footsteps, and the species she loves have each experienced triumphs as well as setbacks. THE WOMAN WHO LOVES GIRAFFES gives us a moving perspective on both.

The War and Peace of Tim O'Brien

2020 Sarasota Film Festival

Tim O’Brien has been called “the best American writer of his generation,” and “our poet laureate of war.” A Vietnam veteran, and National Book Award-winner, O’Brien is one of the great voices in modern American literature. The Library of Congress recently named his groundbreaking novel about the Vietnam War, “The Things They Carried,” one of the 65 most influential books in American history. Entire cities come together to read O’Brien’s books, which have sold more than 6 million copies. It’s practically a cliché in the military – the book everyone carries is “The Things They Carried.”

But O’Brien hasn’t put pen to paper in nearly two decades. He swore off making sentences when, at a late age, he had his first of two children. Plus, the nation was waging new wars in Afghanistan and Iraq that he couldn’t wrap his head around – wars that both reconfirmed and upended the notions of war, soldiers, and society that animated his books.

Now, Tim O’Brien is trying to write again. He thinks the country is past due for a conversation about war’s impact. He thinks we’re running out of time. And, at age 70, that he is too.

“The War and Peace of Tim O’Brien” follows O’Brien on his journey writing his next and last book. What makes wars worth fighting? How do we write about war? What are the obligations of citizens with respect to war? What are the after-effects of war on individuals and families? This intimate film about the struggles of a world-renowned war writer illuminates the everyday ties between duty, art, family, and the trauma of war.

The Reason I Jump

2020 Sarasota Film Festival

An immersive cinematic experience of nonspeaking autistic people across the world, The Reason I Jump is based on a book written by Naoki Higashida when he was just 13. The film follows a young Japanese boy on a journey through an epic landscape. As a maelstrom of thoughts, feelings, impulses, and memories affects his every action, he gradually discovers what his autism means to him, how his perception of the world differs from others’, and why he acts the way he does—the reason he jumps.

Fusing Higashida’s revelatory insights with intimate portraits of five remarkable young people, the film opens a door to a magnificent constellation of divergent ways of experiencing reality. Impactful moments in the lives of the characters are woven together with passages from Higashida’s writing, creating a sensually rich tapestry.

Award-winning filmmaker Jerry Rothwell utilizes the potential of cinema to evoke these intense sensory worlds, illustrating Higashida’s core message: not being able to speak does not mean there is nothing to say. With this glorious film, Rothwell speaks volumes.

The Dog Doc

2020 Sarasota Film Festival

A founding father of integrative veterinary medicine, Dr. Marty Goldstein and his colleagues in South Salem, NY have created a mecca for holistic care, offering hope to scores of previously hopeless animals (and their owners). Combining conventional medical training with cutting edge alternative therapies, Dr. Marty’s deeply empathetic philosophy offers a vital example of how improving overall health rather than merely treating disease is transformative for all living things.

As Goldstein and his staff interact with animals, the stakes are high and it is often touch and go as we watch the owners, some who have traveled great distances, struggle with the reality of whether or not their pets will live to see another day.

THE DOG DOC poses a serious question about whether we are over medicating our pets, our children, and ourselves, while offering an immersive view into a seldom seen world to paint a complete picture of the dedication and joy of being a veterinarian.

Dark Waters

2020 Sarasota Film Festival

Corporate environmental defense attorney Rob Bilott (Academy Award®-nominee Mark Ruffalo) has just made partner at his prestigious Cincinnati law firm in large part due to his work defending Big Chem companies. He finds himself conflicted after he’s contacted by two West Virginia farmers who believe that the local DuPont plant is dumping toxic waste in the area landfill that is destroying their fields and killing their cattle. Hoping to learn the truth about just what is happening, Bilott, with help from his supervising partner in the firm, Tom Terp (Academy Award®-winner Tim Robbins), files a complaint that marks the beginning of an epic 15-year fight—one that will not only test his relationship with his wife, Sarah (Academy Award®-winner Anne Hathaway) but also his reputation, his health and his livelihood.

Microplastic Madness

2020 Sarasota Film Festival

“​Microplastic Madness – Brooklyn kids take on plastic pollution” is an inspirational and optimistic take on the local and global plastic pollution crisis as told through a refreshing urban youth point of view with a powerful take action message.

Fifth graders from PS 15 in Red Hook, Brooklyn – a community on the frontline of Climate Change that was severely impacted by Superstorm Sandy- spent 2 years investigating plastic pollution. Taking on the roles of citizen scientists, community leaders, and advocates, these 10-11 year olds collect local data, lead community outreach, and use their impressive data to inform policy, testifying and rallying at City Hall. They take the deep dive into the root causes of plastic pollution, bridging the connection between plastic, climate change, and environmental justice before turning their focus back to school. There they take action to rid their cafeteria of all single-use plastic, driving forward city-wide action and a scalable, youth-led plastic-free movement.

With stop-motion animation, heartfelt kid commentary, and interviews of experts and renowned scientists who are engaged in the most cutting edge research on the harmful effects of microplastics, this alarming, yet charming narrative, conveys an urgent message in user-friendly terms with a take action message to spark youth-led plastic free action in schools everywhere.

I'll Meet You There

2020 Sarasota Film Festival

Majeed Khawar is the painted picture of the American dream – he moved, alone to a foreign land at 17 and through resourcefulness and determination he made a good life for himself. On the outside, at 43, he has done well, is respected at work and after the early death of his wife, has been a single father to a confident, rebellious seventeen year old daughter DUA. But within himself, Majeed struggles to connect both with his Islamic community and the community of police officers he has dutifully served with, for decades. Dua , a lead performer for Devon’s dance team in Chicago’s bustling South Asian bubble, lives for dancing. It has become a salve to heal the wounds of her deceased mother. Majeed and Dua plod through their lives, waiting until Dua is headed to college, when Majeed’s orthodox and ailing father, BABA arrives from Pakistan, without notice and for treatment. Perhaps the source of Majeed’s inability to connect with his community, Baba introduces his conservative morality to Dua, a move that rubs salt on old wounds for Majeed. Majeed, Dua and Baba dance uneasily around old feelings, new worries and the conflicts that arise through generational differences. With the arrival of Baba, Majeed and Dua’s internal discord is heightened. Majeed is further tested when he is asked to work undercover at the local mosque that now, his father frequents. Initially offended at the discriminatory undertones of this investigation, Majeed decides it is best to be the man on the ground to protect the interests of the Muslim community. While undercover, Majeed re-discovers his connection to his faith and a secret about his father that cracks the ground beneath his feet. Both Majeed and Dua have to face the crossroads of being true to themselves and their individual identities against the expectation of tradition and the influence of Baba.

God The Worm

2020 Sarasota Film Festival

God The Worm is a raw, human, darkly funny exploration of a woman’s attempt to find meaning in a life that has suddenly ceased to hold any for her. Samantha Miller is a very talented singer-songwriter. She had a semi-hit indi record early in her career but never had a second one released. As talented as anyone, the cards just didn’t fall for her. But that didn’t stop her from doing what she loved for the past 25 years. Making music. Her devoted following have kept her inspired… until now.

Suddenly at 52 years-old, she’s faced with a questioning of her life’s meaning. Choices in life, love, family, career are all magnified and her previous zeal for life and music is gone.

The complicated relationship with her lovably quirky hoarding father is the closest in her life. The specter of her fractured relationship with her dead mother haunts her. Considering taking her life, she asks the universe for some kind of sign, a reason to live. The universe obliges and sends her on a week long journey through New York’s colorful streets.

The eccentric characters she encounters act as angels, each more interesting, diverse and illuminating than the next. They help clear away the clutter in her heart and mind and reveal hope. This story is funny, albeit with a gallows humor at times. It’s human to the core and deeply relatable to those who are passionate about the gifts of this life, great and small, but at some point have felt confused and frightened by which path to take.

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