The Sarasota Film Festival is getting ready to roll out its 7th annual slate of films, Janury 28 – February 6 in the Gulf Coast resort city of Sarasota, Florida.
The Van Wezel Performing Arts Center sets the stage for the opening weekend of the Sarasota Film Festival. Kicking-off the Festival is the Opening Night Film and Celebration. Peter Falk and Paul Reiser will be in town for the East Coast premiere of “The Thing About My Folks” (USA, East Coast Premiere) directed by Raymond De Felitta from Paul Reiser’s hilarious tour-de force script. Ben Kleinman (Paul Reiser) has a problem. A devoted husband and father living in New York City, his own father, Sam Kleinman (Peter Falk) arrives to announce that Ben’s mother Muriel (Olympia Dukakis) has walked out on their marriage. Ben decides to take Sam on a road trip, setting off a series of misadventures that brings the two together. Following the film, Opening Night patrons will celebrate into the wee hours at the world renowned Ringling Museum of Art.
The Sarasota Film Festival salutes the filmmakers and artists working outside the mainstream with a new series of movies and events called Independent Visions. Sunday, January 30- Tuesday, February 1,2005, the festival features a spotlight screening of a unique film, one that challenges the status quo and offers a fresh perspective on filmmaking. Immediately following each film, it’s time for the Independent Visions Celebration party, featuring some of the most important independent musicians working today. Experience the 2005 Sarasota Film Festival’s Independent Visions series and celebrate the true spirit of creativity.
Independent Visions Celebrations: In The Realms Of The Unreal (US) Academy-award winning Director Jessica Yu (Breathing Lessons) takes us directly into the world Henry Darger, who died alone in 1973 and left one of the most important collections of “outsider art” ever created. Using state of the art “After Effects” animation to bring Darger’s novel and paintings to life and bringing deep insight into the mind of one of the art world’s most enigmatic figures – the film will be followed by a wild night of music with the band Devotchka at the club KHROME; Prachya Pinkaew’s amazing Ong Bak: Thai Warrior (Thailand, Southeast Premiere) eschews the new conventions of the haute kung fu genre for some serious, old-school, kick-a*s action. With some of the most amazing Thai-fighting sequences ever filmed, Ong Bak: Thai Warrior is a return to form for the martial arts film – the film will be followed by a solo performance from Bob Mould (ex- Hüsker Dü, Sugar) at the Sarasota Municipal Auditorium; Jem Cohen’s debut Chain (US, Southeast Premiere), filmed on location around the world (including Florida), is a powerful meditation on issues of development, gentrification, and the rise of the “superlandscape”, all at the expense of regional community, culture, and intimacy between individuals – the film will be followed by dancing frenzy to Ted Leo and The Pharmacists at the Sarasota Municipal Auditorium.
The 2005 SFF Independent Visions Competition features a cash prize award of $5,000. In Brant Sersen’s Blackballed: The Bobby Dukes Story (USA), Bobby Dukes is a legend in the sport of paintball and like any legend, his story is a long, checkered tale of fame and infamy. This mockumentary is a hilarious story of competitive intrigue, featuring a great cast of characters that checker the side of Bobby’s road to paintball redemption; Director Robert Margolis wrote and stars in The Definition Of Insanity (USA, Southeast Premiere), a mockumentary exposé of the grinding life of Robert, an actor in search of work. As his career trudges steadily down the road to nowhere, the realities of supporting a wife and child and the increasing chance that his much deserved break will never come force Robert to confront his own dream of making it big; There is nothing simple about Josh Apter’s Delivery Method (USA, Southeast Premiere), a finely crafted tale of two people who somehow find a connection amongst the heartbreaks, troubles, and joys of living life on the economic fringes; Director James Westby (Anoosh of the Airwaves) returns to the Sarasota Film Festival with his latest comedy, Film Geek (USA, World Premiere). Scotty is a video store clerk with such an obsession for film he spends his days badgering the video store’s patrons with his opinions about which titles they should be renting or encouraging them to visit his film website. When Scotty meets Niko, his obsessions begin to change if profound ways; Barry Strugatz’s From Other Worlds (USA) is a quirky comedy about misfits trying to save the human race. From Other Worlds reveals a story more about family and our responsibility to our fellow man than about aliens and UFO’s and proves that you don’t have to be a hero to act heroically; Writer/Director Brett C. Leonard’s Jailbait (USA) is a story concerning the concepts of love and family set among cellmates Jake and Randy, the film craftily uses the confinement of the prison cell to intensify the emotional stakes between the prisoners and forces them to confront not only the ugly truths about themselves, but about each other; Director Anais Granofsky’s The Limb Salesman (Canada, US Premiere) creates an almost Victorian mood of dread and isolation that is the perfect compliment to the paranoid world of her fantastic story; Director Amanda Goodwin’s Living ‘Til The End (USA, Southeast Premiere) is a story of love between Jack, an agoraphobic who is told by a crystal ball reading psychic that he will die on his next birthday, and Audrey, the next door neighbor who shows him what life is all about; In his debut feature film, writer/director/star Rob Stefaniuk is Phil The Alien, a survivor of a UFO crash landing in the north of Ontario. After being kidnapped at gunpoint and forced to drink whiskey, Phil is released back into wilds where he befriends a super-intelligent talking beaver until he is chased by alien hunters from the Top Secret American UFO Base in Niagara Falls. Of course, Phil soon joins a Christian rock band before being convinced to try and find his way back home. Phil the Alien (Canada) is a fantastic comedy about the challenges of assimilating in an absurd cultural landscape.
The 2005 Sarasota Film Festival Narrative Feature Competition features a cash award of $5,000. Pierre Salvadori’s delicious comedy of errors, Apres Vous (After You) (France, East Coast Premiere) is a buddy movie about two opposites thrown together by guilt and circumstance who inadvertently change each other’s lives and perspectives. Add the complication of a beautiful woman who is the object of desire for both men, and you have all the ingredients for a lively romp; An emotional rollercoaster filled fueled by a fierce intelligence, Arnaud Desplechin’s Rois et Reine (Kings and Queens) (France, Southeast Premiere) draws inspiration from mythology, Shakespearean forms, and the grand novels of the past, while presenting a thoroughly modern understanding of human relationships; Steve Suissa’s Le Grand Rôle (France, Southeast Premiere) takes a unique look at the things that inspire us to be great (community, faith, love) and shows that, sometimes, inspiration can be greatness in and of itself; This is not your everyday Danny Boyle (Trainspotting, 28 Days Later) film. Millions (UK, Southeast Premiere) is a warm comic story of two young brothers who find £250,000 on the eve of the currency’s conversion to the Euro, and must figure out how to get rid of it before it becomes worthless; Chan-wook Park’s Oldboy (South Korea, Southeast Premiere) is a visually stunning tale of violence, vengeance, and love. A deeply intense film, Park takes his audience to the dark side, where the price people pay to get the payback they so desperately desire is trumped only by the cost of love; Featuring Connie Nielson, Kelly Preston, Aidan Quinn and Timothy Daly, director Bille August’s (Pelle The Conquerer, Les Misérables) Return To Sender (USA/Canada, East Coast Premiere) examines love and redemption in this powerhouse tale of capital punishment and exploitation; In Damien O’Donnell’s Rory O’Shea Was Here (UK), the kinetic Rory, who has muscular dystrophy, is admitted to a care home for the disabled – and there develops a close friendship with Michael, who has cerebral palsy and finds it hard to make himself understood. Rory changes the life of the young man, encouraging him to experience life outside the confines of ‘the system’; With Sucker Free City (USA, US Premiere), director Spike Lee (Do The Right Thing, The 25th Hour) delivers a tour-de-force story, featuring Ben Crowley, Anthony Mackie and Ken Leung, about the perils of life among the street gangs of San Francisco.
The Best Documentary Feature Competition also features a cash award of $5,000. In an era when Dick, Jane, and discipline ruled America’s schools, Albert Cullum allowed Shakespeare, Sophocles, and Shaw to reign in his fifth grade public school classroom. Leslie Sullivan’s A Touch Of Greatness (USA, Southeast Premiere) creates a masterful portrait of a maverick teacher who transformed a generation of young people by enabling them to discover their own inner greatness; A stunning portrait of the impact of the Arab-Israeli conflict in the lives of everyday people, Joshua Faudem and Pavla Flesicher’s Blues By The Beach (USA-Israel) is the story of Jack Baxter, a freelance journalist and filmmaker, and his encounter with the reality of life in a conflict zone, made up of small victories, friendship, and the will to continue on in the face of great loss; What is it about some people that makes them so difficult? Alan Zweig (Vinyl) takes this question to heart in his hilarious examination of the grumpiest, orneriest people on the planet, I, Curmudgeon (Canada, East Coast Premiere). At once a biographical examination of his own curmudgeonly tendencies and an expose of some very famous curmudgeons (Andy Rooney, Harvey Pekar, Bruce LaBruce, and Fran Lebowitz all make appearances); As the 2004 election continues to resonate throughout the country, Stephen Vittoria’s One Bright Shining Moment-The Forgotten Summer Of George McGovern (USA, Southeast Premiere) examines the rise to prominence of Senator George McGovern, his upset victory in the 1972 Democratic primaries, and his failed campaign against Richard Nixon in the subsequent Presidential election. Beyond a simple chronology, though, the film also paints a unique and compelling portrait of a nation at the political crossroads; In 2003, The Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra partnered with over 250 at-risk students from various local public schools in order to create a ballet performance of Stravinsky’s Le Sacre du Printemps (The Rite of Spring). Thomas Grube and Enrique Sanchez Lansch’s Rhythm Is It! (Germany, East Coast Premiere is a celebration of the power of possibility, a hopeful reminder that art can truly transform young people’s lives; In Stolen (USA, World Premiere), Director Rebecca Dreyfus and cameraman Albert Maysles follow noted art detective Harold J. Smith on his quest to track down some of the most valuable paintings in the world, stolen in 1990 from the Isabella Stuart Gardner museum in Boston, and illuminating the idea that the value of the stolen works is less accurately values in dollars and cents, and more in the loss suffered from our not being able to experience them today; In the fall of 2001, San Francisco Giants outfielder Barry Bonds hit his 73rd homerun of the season that set the record for most homeruns hit in a single season. When the ball landed in the right field promenade, two different men, Alex Popov and Patrick Hayashi, claimed that they had caught the record setting ball, setting off a frenzy of legal battles and broken dreams. In his Up For Grabs (USA), Director Michael Wranovics explores the controversy surrounding the most famous homerun of all time, giving us a portrait of the lengths people will go to in order to come out on the top of the heap; A clear-eyed look into the artistic, religious and cultural phenomenon of the Christian rock music scene, Vickie Hunter and Heather Whinna’s Why Should The Devil Have All The Good Music? (USA, East Coast Premiere) takes us backstage at The Cornerstone Festival, a “lollapalooza” of Christian rock featuring the most popular bands in the genre.
Narrative Features: Told entirely without dialogue and shot in luminous black and white, Yasuaki Nakajima’s After The Apocalypse (USA) is a commanding statement about the power of the human will to survive; In Autumn (Automne) directed by Ra’up McGee a troubled hit-man (Laurent Lucas) is pulled into a web of intrigue in the French underworld as he falls in love with an unpredictable woman from his past (Irène Jacob) who thinks she’s found her big score after discovering a mysterious stolen briefcase; Featuring Joseph Lyle Taylor, Paula Devicq, Regis Philbin, Edward Burns and Sarita Chodhury, Vincent Rubino’s The Breakup Artist (USA, Southeast Premiere) is a light-hearted, delightfully funny story of one man’s quest to overcome his own ability to commit, told from an unapologetically male point of view; Brooklyn Bound (USA – Southeast Premiere) is Director Rich Devaney’s story of drugs, crime, power and corruption in the projects of Brooklyn, NY; In David Abbott’s Charlie’s War (USA), Olympia Dukakis stars as Charlotte Lewis, a woman who is experiencing serious emotional and mental turmoil brought about by nightmares of increasing intensity. The film features Dukakis, Diane Ladd and Lynn Redgrave in a story of redemption and conquering your personal demons; Phillippe Martinez’s Citizen Verdict (USA, US Premiere) is a satire on American reality-television, featuring Roy Scheider, Armand Assante and casting Jerry Springer as the producer of a new crime series in which real-life murder suspects are tried on live TV. If voted guilty by viewers, the killers are executed on cable TV for which subscribers must pay $19.99. Shot on location in the Tampa/St. Petersberg area, Citizen Verdict is a serious, steady-handed indictment of not only the politics of the death penalty, but media complicity in exploiting the justice system for capital gain; Fathers And Sons (USA, East Coast Premiere) revolves around the intertwined tales of three families who grow up on the same street, focusing on the relationship of fathers and sons. The first section, directed by Rob Spera, features Bradley Whitford and Samantha Mathis, the second story, helmed by Rodrigo Garcia, features John Mahoney, Kathy Baker, Clea DuVall and Ron Eldard, The final chapter, with Jared Rappaport at the helm, features Gale Harold, Barbara Barrie, Vinessa Shaw, Joe Bologna and Lisa Edelstein, Louis Bélanger’s Gaz Bar Blues (Canada, US Premiere) is a snapshot of an extended family facing the crisis of progress, change, and the dreams of the men who inhabit it; Watching Asia Argento’s unflinching adaptation of J.T. LeRoy’s powerful novel The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things (USA, East Coast Premiere) is not an easy experience. The story of Jeremiah, the son of an abusive punk rocker named Sarah (Argento) who wins custody of her son only to return him to a life of constant abuse and neglect features terrific performances by Argento, Peter Fonda, Winona Ryder, Michael Pitt, Marilyn Manson and as Jeremiah, Jimmy Bennett and Dylan and Cole Sprouse; In Michael Goorjian’s touching film Illusion (USA – Southeast Premiere), Kirk Douglas returns to the screen as Donal Banks, a former film director whose life is coming to an end. After falling asleep, Donal is visited by Christopher (Goorjian), his former editor who begins to show Donal movies about the son from whom he has been long estranged. Donal watches as his son’s life unfolds before him and his longing and regrets come to the fore; Dave McKean’s MirrorMask (UK, East Coast Premiere) centers on 15 year old Helena whose mother falls quite ill and Helena is convinced that it is all her fault. On the eve of her mother’s major surgery, she dreams that she is in a strange world with two opposing queens, bizarre creatures, and masked inhabitants. All is not well in this new world – the white queen has fallen ill and can only be restored by the MirrorMask, and it’s up to Helena to find it; Savi Gavison’s emotionally charged Nina’s Tragedies (Israel, Southeast Premiere) is a touching portrait of a family in transition and a son, wise beyond his years who struggles to find happiness and reconciliation in his own life; Tim McCann’s Nowhere Man (USA, Southeast Premiere) is a brutally dark comedy that probes and cauterizes the preposterousness of love and revenge. It is both a nasty little film noir and a black-humored treatise on the ever-shifting balance of power in human relationships; Or is the hard-working daughter of Ruthie, a Tel Aviv prostitute who can’t escape her life on the streets. Keren Yedaya, who won the Camera D’Or at this year’s Cannes Film Festival for her powerful and austere direction on Or (Israel/France, Southeast Premiere) creates a spare and claustrophobic story about a young woman’s descent into the life she has worked so diligently to leave behind; Featuring Dennis Hopper, Gina Gershon, Dominique Swain and Jim Cater, Jevon O’Neill’s stylish Out Of Season (USA, Southeast Premiere) is a neo-noir so full of twists and turns, it resembles the abandoned rollercoaster that serves as the central metaphor of the film; Andy Fickman’s Reefer Madness (USA, East Coast Premiere), a delicious, über-camp adaptation of the off-Broadway musical hit, takes the cautionary tale insanity of the original Tell Your Children (a.k.a Reefer Madness, 1938) and sets it against wonderful song and dance numbers. The musical numbers are big, silly, and full of spunky turns by all of the stars involved (Alan C*****g, Steven Weber, Christian Campbell, Kristen Bell, Neve Campbell), and there is as much drug use, sex, cannibalism (?) and other ‘immoral’ behavior on display as there is in the original film; Karen Shakhnazarov’s A Rider Named Death (Russia, East Coast Premiere) is a powerful exploration of the origins of political terrorism in our time. Based on “Pale Horse”, a novel written by real-life pre-Soviet terrorist Boris Savinkov; The rules of the game of love, that long-standing battle between the sexes, is at the heart of Oliver Ussing’s unpredictable romantic comedy, Rule No. 1 (Denmark, Southeast Premiere); In David van Eyssen’s Slipstream (USA, US Festival Premiere) featuring Sean Astin, a scientist plots a bank robbery based around his newest invention — a time travel gadget that will send its user 10 minutes into the past; Speak (USA) the feature debut of director/co-writer Jessica Sharzer is a tragicomic story of a smart, spirited high school freshman who has been stunned into silence by an unspeakable event; Laura Colella’s Stay Until Tomorrow (USA) is an emotionally rich film-within-a-film that celebrates beauty, unpredictability, absurdity, and the potential richness of experience; In Jeff Burr’s Straight Into Darkness (USA, Southeast Premiere) two soldiers, en route to military jail for going AWOL in the waning days of WWII, are suddenly freed when their military vehicle accidentally hits a landmine. Forced by circumstance to work together to avoid capture, the soldiers brave the bitter cold of the winter and the ever-present enemy in their quest to stay alive; Set in contemporary rural Louisiana, Kyle Schickner’s Strange Fruit (USA) explores the tribulations of William Boyals, a successful New York lawyer and gay African-American who comes home to the town in which he grew up to investigate the lynching of his childhood friend, Kelvin, in the parking lot of a gay nightclub; After a near death experience, five Boys, all devoted AC/DC fans, make a pact to bury their best friend next to the grave of Bon Scott. 12 years later, having gone their different ways, they come together to fulfill the promise in Darren Ashton’s Thunderstruck (Australia, US Premiere); Debra Kirschner’s The Tollbooth (USA, Southeast Premiere), featuring Marla Sokolov, Liz Stauber, Idina Menzel and Ronald Guttman, is a comic exploration of inter-faith love and interpersonal relationships among a family that struggles to define the happy medium between tradition, change, and personal happiness; In the sexy comedy Torremolinos ’73 (Spain, East Coast Premiere), Pablo Berger’s note-perfect recreation of 1970’s Spain, Javier Cámara plays Alfredo a struggling encyclopedia salesman who, in order to save his job, accepts an offer from his boss to make “educational” adult films with his patient wife Carmen (Candela Peña). When Alfredo’s dedication to the craft of filmmaking (along with his adoration of Ingmar Bergman) turns him into an aspiring legitimate filmmaker, the couple’s movies begin to take off and Carmen becomes an international sex symbol; Three misfit roommates, Stéphanie, a pre-operative transsexual, Djamel, an Arab hustler, and Mikhail a Russian immigrant, travel to northern France to attend to Stéphanie’s dying mother. Sébastien Lifshitz’s unconventional Wild Side (France, Southeast Premiere) refuses to trade in stereotypes and instead illuminates the friendship of the three characters through healthy doses of memory and conversation; Jia Zhangke’s (Unknown Pleasures, Platform) latest masterpiece, The World (China, Southeast Premiere), is his first film that has earned state sanctioning in China, but that doesn’t prevent him from delivering a powerful indictment of cultural isolationism and a disillusioned perspective on the Westernization of Chinese culture; Tom DeGrezia’s Xtacy (USA, World Premiere) is a drug-laced, sex-fueled joy ride into the mind of a seriously deranged artist whose best work is inspired by his own loss of control and need to kill.
Documentary Features: Georg Misch’s Calling Hedy Lamarr (Austria, Southeast Premiere) is a loving look at the life of the one-time “most beautiful girl in the world,” the incomparable Hedy Lamarr. At once an actress (whose first film Ecstasy caused a global scandal for its extensive nudity), inventor (who patented several inventions), mother, and recluse (who spent the final years of her life communicating almost exclusively by telephone), Hedy Lamarr’s life was as enigmatic as her work on the screen; Director’s Janet Baus, Dan Hunt, John Scagliotti and Reid Williams’ Dangerous Living: Coming Out In The Developing World (USA) documents the lives of gay men and women in the developing world who, through the courage of their convictions, seek acceptance and inclusion from their fellow citizens. Dangerous Living provides a glimpse into the depth of political repression that is much closer to home than we may believe; Imaginary Witness: Hollywood and the Holocaust (USA, Southeast Premiere), is Daniel Anker’s outstanding examination of the way in which the Holocaust has been represented on the big screen, and examines the power of cinema in shaping not only our perceptions of the past, but our understanding of history and our capacity for empathy; .Director Ruth Leitman’s Lipstick and Dynamite (USA), a touching portrait of women who lived hard, and fought even harder look into the lives of the women who made their living on the professional wrestling circuit of the ‘40s & ‘50s like The Fabulous Moolah and Johnnie Mae Young; Full of rich insights into the loss that occurs when a creative voice is suddenly silenced by tragedy, Bill Rose’s The Loss of Nameless Things (USA) is the haunting story of Oakley Hall III, a promising playwright on the verge of national recognition whose life was interrupted and violently transformed by a mysterious fall from a bridge; In Jonathan Nossiter’s exceptional documentary Mondovino (Argentina/Italy/France, Southeast Premiere), the world of wine making, with its big money and even bigger egos, is laid bare like never before. Already the subject of countless controversies (and lawsuits) among the wine making set, the film is an exploration of the globalization of the wine business; Henry Alex Rubin and Dana Adam Shapiro’s Murderball (USA, East Coast Premiere) is the story of a sport like no other, played by tough, driven, and highly competitive quadriplegics in “Mad-Max style” wheelchairs. Quad rugby players have suffered injuries that have left them with limited function in all four limbs. In their struggle to overcome these constraints, they have taken up ‘Murderball,’ aka wheelchair rugby. Watching these athletes in action both on-court and off reverses every preconception one has ever had about the handicapped, but it also redefines what it is to be a man, what it is to live a full life, and what it means to be a winner. One of the featured players in the film is Joe Soares, now coach of the Tampa Generals Quad Rugby team; Ken Heckmann’s Power, Passion & Glory: The Real Story Of Texas Football Madness (USA, East Coast Premiere) is a behind-the-scenes look at the winningest team in the history of Texas High School football, the Celina Bobcats, and a town’s passion for their football team; In a world teetering on the edge of self destruction, filmmaker Velcrow Ripper sets out on a unique pilgrimage. Visiting the `Ground Zeros’ of the planet, he asks if it’s possible to find hope in the darkest moments of human history, and in each place, unearths unforgettable stories of survival, ritual, and recovery. ScaredSacred (Canada, East Coast Premiere) deftly weaves together haunting and luminous footage with words, memories, and an evocative soundscape to create an exquisite portrait of a search for meaning in times of turmoil; A powerful film, one that shows a commitment not only to surviving, but to breaking the silence Searching for Angela Shelton (USA), filmmaker Angela Shelton journeys across the United States to meet other Angela Sheltons in an effort to survey American women in the early 21st Century. At the outset of her journey, a curious pattern begins to emerge, as 24 out of 40 Angela Sheltons reveal that they have survived rape, child abuse or molestation, much like the Director herself; Femke Wolting’s Sneakers (Netherlands, Southeast Premiere) deals with the rise of a modern icon: the athletic shoe, or ‘sneaker’. Sneakers is more than a film about shoes, taking an inside look at the rise of the counter culture of the early 1960’s, to 1970’s punks, and of course the RUN-D.M.C. inspired hip-hop B-boys of the 1980’s, up to the rise of Nike and Air Jordan’s in the late 1980’s and 1990’s; Chris Sautter’s So Glad I Made It (USA, Southeast Premiere) is the story of singer songwriter Roger Salloom, a former 1960s San Francisco psychedelic rocker and 1970s Nashville songwriter, who attempts to jump-start his career as 50-something nearly twenty years after he gave up on the music business; Mark Wexler’s Tell Them Who You Are (USA, Southeast Premiere) is a cinematic blend of biography and autobiography that centers on his relationship with his father, the legendary filmmaker and cinematographer Haskell Wexler (Medium Cool). While Mark interviews such luminaries as Ron Howard, Jane Fonda, Michael Douglas, and Julia Roberts, it is Haskell who is always trying to steal the show; A personal story of survival, Yaron Zilberman’s Watermarks (France/Israel/USA) is a resonant look at Hakoah, the historic Jewish athletic club in Vienna that housed one of the most legendary sports teams in swimming history, the Hakoah Women’s Swimming Team, which in the 1930’s dominated the international competitive swimming circuit until the terrible political events of that decade cast a long shadow over their dreams of gold and glory. Watermarks stands as a testament to the strength and fortitude of these outstanding athletes who fought valiantly to preserve not only their heritage, but their own lives; Carolyn Travis’s Wildwood Days (USA), is the pop culture history of a quirky rock ‘n roll resort town of Wildwood, NJ, a town full of neon-lit doo-wop motels being threatened by the wrecking ball – as told by Bruce Willis, Dick Clark, Chubby Checker, Bobby Rydell, and others who made the beach and boardwalk scene; Xan Cassavetes’ Z Channel: A Magnificent Obsession (USA), is a tale of the groundbreaking and controversial film channel of the 1970s and 1980s. Z Channel was a vehicle that gave a voice to filmmakers of the day, influenced contemporary cinema and was a predecessor to moderncable. Z Channel also became synonymous withJerry Harvey, the troubled visionary who was responsible for the revolutionary programming that made Z Channel a Hollywood habit for serious filmmakers and film fans alike. Those sharing their thoughts and memories include Robert Altman, Jacqueline Bisset, James Woods, Quentin Tarantino, Jim Jarmusch, Alexander Payne, Paul Verhoeven, Theresa Russell, Penelope Spheeris, Henry Jaglom, Alan Rudolph, as well as critics F.X. Feeney and Kevin Thomas.
Special Screenings and Presentations:
The Story of Movies is an innovative interdisciplinary curriculum introducing students to classic cinema and the cultural, historical and artistic significance of film. Created by the Film Foundation, in partnership with IBM and Turner Classic Movies, The Story of Movies helps students think contextually about the role of film and expression in American culture and helps foster creativity. The Film Festival will screen the Gregory Peck classic To Kill a Mockingbird and present The Story of Movies’ coinciding curriculum through a teacher’s workshop.
2005 Sarasota Film Festival Shorts Packages
1. COMING OF AGE – This set of films take an unflinching look at what it is to ‘come of age’ in contemporary America.
The Trial of Jack, Directed by Shari Berman, (USA) this motion picture is a ‘just-so’ story about a Jack-in-the-box in which a doll named Jack believes his stardom puts him above the law; Ben and Holl, Directed by Kurt Haas (USA, World Premiere), when his girlfriend is left home alone for the summer, a sixteen year-old boy discovers the unexpected complexities of love and intimacy; Dead Kitty, Directed by Rachel Max (USA, Florida Premiere); Heartbreaking animated musical tale of a pet cat; Cat’s Bad Hair Day, Directed by Debby Wolfe, (USA, Florida Premiere), Thirteen is not an easy age for shy Alicia. Belittled, traumatized, and ignored, she is becoming a woman whether she likes it or not; Flutter Kick, Directed by Gil Kruger (USA), It is the last day of high school swim class, and scrawny Eric Rudbart may finally remove his T-shirt; Yellow Bike, Directed by Rachel Max (USA, Florida Premiere), Heartbreaking animated musical tale of a stolen bike in NYC; the passage of mrs. calabash, Directed by Scott Tuft (USA, North America Premiere), On an overnight train journey, a troubled young woman and a retired professor exchange the guarded secrets that can only be shared with a stranger.
2. HAVING IT MY WAY – Journeys of the heart and mind are full of surprises.
Focus Group, Directed by Douglas Bost (USA),A dark comedy in which six strangers participate in a market research group run by a menacing moderator; Long Story Short, Directed by Simbiat Hall (USA), a comedy about the strangely impossible task of a black girl trying to get her hair done; Betty’s Treats, Directed by Kaye Kittrell (USA, World Premiere), a comic love tale with a twist, set in 1957, Riverdale, USA; Something for Henry, Directed by Nina Tsai (USA),Thirty-six years old, still at his first job, and living with his parents, Henry is shopping for a change; Maestro, Directed by Doug Stradley (USA), the story of a bowling alley attendant who dreams of being a conductor, and of a piece of music that has destroyed every conductor who ever attempted it.
3. THE UNREASONABLE HEART – A compendium of human experience exploring the vagaries of attraction.
Piss Hat, Directed by Mo Perkins (USA),Loopy Lucy tries to find peace of mind; Boutique, Directed by Steven Schardt (USA),A man wakes up to find his lover has left him, but he discovers that the mysterious new store across the street can help him recover what he has lost; Wow and Flutter, Directed by Gary Lundgren (USA, Florida Premiere) Fourteen-year old David makes a mixed tape for his first crush, Amber, an unattainable high school senior; 3 Body Problem, Directed by Tamara Malone (USA), Three people. With one problem. Love. The 3 Body Problem, a story about love and the ironies of live; Frijolito, Go!, Directed by Tony Mosher (USA, World Premiere), Quincy’s rap-sheet catches up with him when he’s convicted for drunk and disorderly and sentenced to be a party clown for a low-income housing project in Queens, NY.
4. WOMEN’S VOICES – Women filmmakers bring their unique perspectives to stories of friendship, love, and tragedy.
Trip in a Summer Dress, Directed by Janine Turner (USA, Florida Premiere), A rich, complicated, story about a mother and a daughter who are divided by a family secret; Liminality, Directed by Jessica Manafort (USA, World Premiere), Liminality is a coming of age drama that explores the dynamics of a best friendship between two girls who are both struggling in their own ways with the insecurities of teenage life in New York City; The Vision, Directed by Jacqueline Lesko (USA, Florida Premiere), Hell hath no fury like a woman locked inside her cheating boyfriend’s apartment!; Final Sale, Directed by Julie Hermelin (USA, World Premiere), A comedy about two best friends who get into a fight at a trendy clothing store sale, which devolves into a kung-fu showdown; Push, Directed by Tricia Nolan (USA),A father has only one last favor to ask of his daughter–but it’s a doozie.
5. VISIONS OF THE SOUTH – It’s not all ‘sunny’ in the American Southland. Watch out for the “odor of mendacity,” danger, decay and violence beneath the charm.
99 Scents, Directed by Keir Serrie (USA),A short film about a perfume salesman who stinks; Fight of the Fly, Directed by Jason ‘Shoe’ Schuster (USA),A tale of karmic retribution; Gay By Dawn, Directed by Jonathon London (USA), In the deep, dark woods, four rednecks tell ghost stories around an open fire. Gay By Dawn: a journey from fear to queer…; Scattered Smothered Covered, Directed by Matthew Serrins (USA), It’s been a Southern fried phenomenon since 1955, but what makes Waffle House such a unique institution; The Way of Dale, Directed by Andrew Shearer (USA),Somewhere in the rolling plains of the South, a reckless redneck named Dale is making all the wrong choices; Clean, Directed by Glen Owen (USA),A cab ride across town to buy drugs takes Lola on a journey that will change her forever.
6. MID-DAY MADNESS – Our version of midnight madness, only in the middle of the day! For those who tastes run towards the dark side…
Herbie! Directed by Drew Barnhardt (USA), Meet Herbie Duck. He’s nice. Well meaning. But he has a problem. A big one. Herbie meets Rosie. She might be his last chance. Or his next victim; Black Wedding, Directed by Scott Peters (USA), A psychological horror about a doctor who can’t bear to part with his patient, even after her death; Fault, Directed by Justin Swibel (USA),A poignant, disturbing, and darkly funny short film about a rich American boy who attacks his tennis instructor; The Hunter, Directed by Hitoshi Hirano (Russian Federation), A lone female hunter’s life is abruptly altered when she accidentally acquires a dildo. Thus begins her journey towards love and happiness.
7. COOL CANADIAN SHORTS – Innovative and visually compelling films brought to us by our neighbors to the North.
Judgement Call, Directed by Robert Budreau, As three Major League Baseball umpires prepare for the first day of spring training, they debate their roles and the value of ‘America’s Past-time’ in our post 9/11 world.; Sombra Dolorossa, Directed by Guy Maddin, This “Maxi-Mexi-Melancolour” short features a widow wrestling El Muerto for the ghost of her dead husband, a race against an eclipse, and an attempted suicide; Shadow Pleasures: The Cinnamon Peeler, Directed by Veronican Tennant, Michael Ondaatje’s reading of his poem THE CINNAMON PEELER is accompanied by the movement of two dancers; Sharkboy, Directed by Pat Kiely, Francis has just arrived at a new school…it’s your standard new kid in town story. There’s just one difference – Francis is half shark; Hired Heroes, Directed by Ryan Leigh, Documentary of a now defunct super-hero legion; Right Hook: A Tall Tale, Directed by Peter Rowe, A strange and funny moment in the life of a fly-fisherman; Prix Fixe, Directed by Nobu Adilman, The Bonnie and Clyde of the dine and dash take a cities’ restaurants by storm. Food ‘Noir’ at it’s best; Luv Junket, Directed by Alexandre Franchi, An exploration of the physical yearning of a woman as she desperately tries to stir passion in her disinterested lover.
8. DOCUMENTARY SHORTS – Passionate people are the common thread that runs through this diverse and entertaining documentary package.
Legacy Builder, Directed by Chris Bryant & Austin Lee Smoak (FSU), A brief history of John and Mable Ringling in Sarasota; Caught in Paint, Directed by Rita Blitt (USA), captures painter/sculptor Rita Blitt painting on transparent surfaces while the David Parsons Dance Co. dance in mid-air thru the painting imitating Blitt’s paint strokes; Each One Teach One, Directed by Lila Place (USA),While in prison Jason “Compa” Treas discovered his own talent as an artist and how art could be used as a powerful tool for transformation and empowerment. Bertha Alyce, Directed by Gay Block (USA), Gay Block began photographing her mother, Bertha Alyce, in 1973 and continued until Bertha Alyce’s death resulting from a stroke in 1991; Pigeon Men, Directed by Daniel Murray & Peter Russotti (USA), The filmmakers take us on an intimate look at the ill-respected bird and the men who love them; Viva Morrissey, Directed by Jonathan Miertschin & Jessica Hundley (USA),An unexpected phenomenon is thriving Southern California’s Latino communities; Matisyahu, Directed by David Baugnon (USA), follows Matisyahu, a Hasidic Reggae/Beat Box/Rapper, as he performs in New York City;
9. INTERNATIONAL SHORTS – Masterful Movie-making from around the world.
Lift, Directed by Hugues Dalton (USA), How far would you go to win the woman of your dreams? You’re a lift operator. She’s afraid of elevators; El Cochero, Directed by Miles Merritt (Mexico), ‘El Cochero’ is a touching tale about loss and isolation – but also about ultimately finding the strength to carry on; Nie Solo Sein (Never even), Directed by Jan Schomburg (Germany), One morning Max finds himself in a world in which time runs in the opposite direction; Of Burning Hills, Directed by Jason White (Canada), This experimental film combines live-action footage with multiple animation techniques to depict the diverse range of ideas and emotions in this post-modern poem narrated by Dan Aykroyd; Hochbetrieb (Nuts ands Bolts), Directed by Andreas Krein (Germany), High up on the steel supporters of a construction site: an apprentice, his frog, the site foreman, and a lunch break that never was…; Las Viandes (Viands), Directed by José-Antonio Bonet (Spain), In a restaurant lost in the mountains, a new host comes in. Papandreu, the Chef, will make him enjoy his best dishes.
10. FLORIDA STATE UNIVERSITY SHOWCASE – These films are in competition for the Emerging Filmmaker Award.
Lamia, Written and Directed Katerina Slantcheva; Sky is Falling, Written and Directed by Adam J. Kreps; Coochie, Written & Directed by NajaaYoung; Moondance, Written & Directed by Will Bigham.
11. UNIVERSITY SHOWCASE – These films are in competition for the Emerging Filmmaker Award. Cut, Directed by Erin Solari, (Manatee Community College); The Domestication of the Incredible LMNO Robot, Directed by Benjamin Piety, (University of Central Florida); Harry the Hamster, Directed by Tucker Marolf, (Chapman University); Spin, Directed by David Marmor, (University of Southern California); Choked, Directed by Brad Barnes, (New York University Tisch School of the Arts); Miracle Mile, Directed by Dong Hyeuk Hwang, (University of Southern California).
12. IMAGININGS – A showcase of short family films which illustrate the importance of imagination and following your dreams.
Moon Man, Directed by Paul Morstad (Canada), A stereoscopic, musical, animated short based on the Stompin’ Tom Conners’ song, “Moonman Newfie” about Codfish Dan from Newfoundland; The Magic Lion, Directed by Charles Githinj (Canada), the story of an African boy on a quest to save the life of his gravely ill grandfather; Garpenfargle, Directed by Bill Kersey and Edward Kim, (USA), The story of a dog and what happens when he is left alone with only one rule to follow -“Stay out of the trash!”; Sing-a-long with Roosevelt, Directed by Cliff Muelle, (USA), Sing-a-long with a walrus, clams, and barnacles in this joyous and humorous musical interlude; Flyaway, Directed by Out of Our Minds Animation Studio (USA), Every dream worthwhile is worth sacrifice. A little wooden plane, despite the price it must pay, does the impossible and joins a world of which it could previously only dream; Hello, Directed by Jonathon Nix, (Australia), A lonely tape player looks to win the heart of the beautiful CD player down the hall, in this whimsical hand-drawn animated film from Australia; Mindy, Directed by Chor Ai Lene (USA), Shy, 9year-old Mindy, who has no friends at school or at the Chinese restaurant where she helps her mother, tries to befriend a quiet 11 year-old boy who is kind to her one day on the school bus; Pen Pals, Directed by Art Curry (Canada), The animated story of a late night duel between a pencil and a technically superior graphic pen fighting to win the affections of a female pencil; The Long and Short of It, Directed by Sean Astin (USA), A bedraggled painter is in way over his head. Then… as chance would have it, two strangers, very different in size but equally benevolent in heart, wander his way; Lorenzo, Directed by Mike Gabriel (USA), In this brand new hilarious and colorful addition to the vast library of great animated Disney shorts, a dance-loving fat cat must deal with its own possessed tail.
For more info, visit the Sarasota Film Festival website.