Sarasota, FL (March 14, 2023) – The Sarasota Film Festival (SFF) announced today the full slate of programming for the 25th anniversary edition of the festival, taking place in-person across Sarasota March 25 through April 2, 2023, with complementary virtual programming to open March 24.
The festival is set to open on Saturday, March 25 with a screening of Dawn Porter’s CIRQUE DU SOLEIL: WITHOUT A NET at The Circus Arts Conservatory in Sarasota with a reception to follow. The film offers a behind-the-scenes look into “O”, Cirque’s flagship production, on its journey back after the COVID-19 pandemic. The world famous production will also celebrate its grand 25th anniversary later this year, solidifying the show’s remarkable success.
“I am thrilled to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Sarasota Film Festival this year with a robust slate of films from an internationally renowned group of artists,” said Mark Famiglio, SFF Chairman and Board President. “We at SFF feel so proud to commemorate a quarter of a century of bringing dynamic lineups of films to the beautiful Florida Gulf Coast and the arts-loving community that calls it home. In the years to come we hope to continue showcasing emerging young talent from this generation and beyond, especially through our wonderfully curated annual youth programs.”
As part of the festival lineup, newly announced Documentary Centerpiece titles include BEING MARY TYLER MOORE from director James Adolphus, a revealing look at the trailblazing career and private life of actress Mary Tyler Moore; Bethann Hardison and Frédéric Tcheng’s INVISIBLE BEAUTY, which follows Hardison, fashion revolutionary and model turned agent and activist while she reflects on her personal journey and the cost of being a pioneer; Barbara Kopple’s GUMBO COALITION, a film chronicling the work of national social justice leaders Marc Morial of National Urban League and Janet Murguía of Unidos as they join forces to fight structural racism amid a troubling resurgence of white supremacy; and Davina Pardo and Leah Wolchok’s JUDY BLUME FOREVER, a Prime Video release which profiles trailblazing author Judy Blume’s radical honesty and the way it changed how millions of adolescent readers understood themselves, their sexuality, and what it meant to grow up. Additional Documentary Centerpiece film includes the previously announced IT’S ONLY LIFE AFTER ALL, directed by Alexandria Bombach.
Maxim Pozdorovkin’s THE CONSPIRACY will also screen as a Documentary Centerpiece selection. The documentary is an animated film about the biggest lie ever told: Jews plotting to take over the world. Behind the torch-bearing chants of “Jews will not replace us” is an age-old myth, and as this myth is followed from the fringe to the mainstream, three Jewish families are made into scapegoats, their names forever linked to the notion that Jews are a monolithic group set on world domination. The film will screen on Friday, March 31 and will be immediately followed by a panel conversation featuring producer Caroline Hirsch and local leaders in the Jewish community.
SFF also announced Spotlight screenings of Andrew Durham’s FAIRYLAND, which premiered at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival and stars Emilia Jones and Scoot McNairy, and follows a young girl raised by her single gay father in San Francisco, set against the backdrop of the city’s vibrant cultural scene in the 1970s and ’80s; A24’s SHOWING UP, directed by Kelly Reichardt and starring Michelle Williams and Hong Chau, which is focused on a sculptor preparing to open a new show who must balance her creative life with the daily dramas of family and friends; Daniel Goldhaber’s heist film, HOW TO BLOW UP A PIPELINE, distributed by NEON and following a crew of environmental activists who plot a daring plan to disrupt an oil pipeline; Magnolia Pictures’ MASTER GARDENER from director Paul Schrader, a crime thriller about a meticulous horticulturist devoted to tending the grounds of a beautiful estate owned by a wealthy dowager; and Sophie Barthes’ THE POD GENERATION, starring Emilia Clarke and Chiwetel Ejiofo, which follows a couple living in a not-so-distant future where technology provides ever-more convenient living.
The Narrative Feature Competition will showcase BRIDGE TO THE OTHER SIDE, directed by KT Curran; GODLAND, directed by Hlynur Pálmason; OTHER PEOPLE’S CHILDREN, directed by Rebecca Zlotowski; and THE UNKNOWN COUNTRY, directed by Morrisa Maltz.
The Documentary Feature Competition will include AUM: THE CULT AT THE END OF THE WORLD, directed by Ben Braun & Chiaki Yanagimoto; HUMANITY STOKED directed by Michael Ien Cohen; INVISIBLE BEAUTY, directed by Bethann Hardison & Frédéric Tcheng; and THE CONSPIRACY, directed by Maxim Pozdorovkin.
The festival will also screen LATE BLOOMERS directed by Lisa Steen; PERFECTLY GOOD MOMENT directed by Lauren Greenhall; SHUDDERBUGS directed by Johanna Putnam; THE OTHER WIDOW directed by Ma’ayan Rypp as part of the Independent Visions Feature Competition.
In the features lineup, the festival will host the World Premiere of PERFECTLY GOOD MOMENT and the East Coast Premieres of LATE BLOOMERS and HILMA. In the documentary lineup, the festival will screen the World Premieres of HIDDEN MASTER: THE LEGACY OF GEORGE PLATT LYNES, LOSING GRIP and UNFILTERED: THE TRUTH ABOUT OYSTERS; and the East Coast premieres of AUM: THE CULT AT THE END OF THE WORLD, FAIRYLAND, IT’S ONLY LIFE AFTER ALL, KAREN CARPENTER: STARVING FOR PERFECTION, LOVE TO LOVE YOU, DONNA SUMMER, PIANOFORTE, RIDERS ON THE STORM, and A STILL SMALL VOICE.
Narrative films in the 2023 slate also include: François Ozon’s EVERYTHING WENT FINE, Lasse Hallström’s HILMA, Emanuele Crialese’s L’IMMENSITA, Lola Quivoron’s RODEO, Ray Romano’s SOMEWHERE IN QUEENS, and a restoration screening of Carl Theodor Dreyer’s 1928 film PASSION OF JOAN OF ARC.
Documentary films in the 2023 slate also include: Luke Lorentzen’s A STILL SMALL VOICE, Lisa Cortés’ LITTLE RICHARD: I AM EVERYTHING, Sam Shahid’s HIDDEN MASTER: THE LEGACY OF GEORGE PLATT LYNES, Matthew Mishory’s IT AIN’T OVER, Randy Martin’s KAREN CARPENTER: STARVING FOR PERFECTION, Lynn Marvin Dingfelder LA GACETA: 100 YEARS AND 3 GENERATIONS BEHIND AMERICA’S ONLY TRILINGUAL NEWSPAPER, Steven Nye’s LOSING GRIP, Brian Lindstrom and Andy Brown’s LOST ANGEL: THE GENIUS JUDEE SILL, Jakub Piqtek’s PIANOFORTE, Jason Motlagh and Mark Oltmanns’ RIDERS ON THE STORM, Michael Rainin’s RUN, RAVEN, RUN, Hassan Amini’s STARTING FROM ZERO, Alejandro Alcala’s THE NEIGHBORHOOD STORYTELLER, Durand Adams & Charles Clapsaddle THROUGH THE TUNNEL, Deborah Kaufman & Alan Snitow’s TOWN DESTROYER, and Mystysalv Chernov’s 20 DAYS IN MARIUPOL.
In addition to the previously announced Music Focus Sidebar, SFF will also program an African American Focus Sidebar, an LGBTQ Focus Sidebar, a Jewish Focus Sidebar, and a sidebar on films Directed by Women. Additional programs announced include SFF Focus: Environment, SFF Focus: Architecture, and SFF Focus: Education. The festival also unveiled this year’s short film programs, including Narrative Competition Shorts, International Narrative Competition Shorts, Documentary Competition Shorts, Comedy Shorts, Coming Together Shorts, Family Connections Shorts, Nature/Environment Shorts, Late Night Shorts, LGBTQ Shorts, and Sarasota and Florida Shorts.
The theme for this year’s poster is The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same. The poster art was created by Bulgarian artist Maria Elena Diaz of Sofia Design Studio. The official poster for the 25th annual Sarasota Film Festival can be viewed HERE.
The festival is also proud to announce the lineup for this year’s Narrative and Documentary Juries. The Narrative Jury includes Mayor of Sarasota Kyle Battie, IndieWire’s Executive Managing Editor Christian Blauvelt and director and acclaimed documentary filmmaker Alexandria Bombach. The Documentary Jury includes entertainment lawyer and partner at Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz Victoria Cook, Hamptons International Film Festival Executive Director Anne Chaisson, and veteran Public Relations Executive Katie Martin Kelley.
As previously announced, the festival will honor members of the Grammy Award-winning folk rock duo Amy Ray and Emily Saliers with the Sarasota Maestro Award, as well as Emmy-nominated Actress-Producer Roma Downey, who will attend with Closing Night’s ON A WING AND A PRAYER and receive the Sarasota Film Festival Lifetime Achievement Award. During the festival Downey will also participate in events including a book signing and a luncheon conversation on Saturday, April 1.
The 25th annual Sarasota Film Festival, which will take place from March 24th through April 2 with in-person events across Sarasota and complementary virtual programming, greatly appreciates the support of its personal and corporate sponsors, including the Famiglio Family Foundation, Sack Family Foundation, Wallack Family Fund, CMX CinéBistro, BMW of Sarasota, SRQ Airport, METV, Tito’s Handmade Vodka, Stella Artois, Sarasota Chamber of Commerce, Hotel Indigo, Westin, Netwurx, Sarasota Magazine, SRQ Magazine, Sarasota Film Society, Sarasota Out, Visit Sarasota County, Michael’s on East, National Awards, Scene Magazine, Bookstore 1, Sande Caplin & Associates, The Observer Media Group, Sage Restaurant, Art Avenue, Senior Blue Book, Family Beautiful Magazine, Intermedia Studios, Ft. Myers Magazine, The Jazz Club of Sarasota, Westcoast Woman, Venice Art Center, WSLR, and iHeartMedia, Molinari Models & Talent, Gurley & Associates, LJ Event Production, The Realm Restaurant Group, Bijou Garden Cafe, Rosemary & Thyme, Tamiami Tap, Sarasota Orchestra, Siesta Sand, 530 Burns Gallery and others. The festival is sponsored in part by the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs, Florida Council on Arts and Culture, Sarasota County Tourism Development Tax Revenues as well as the Community Foundation of Sarasota.
Tickets and passes for the 25th annual Sarasota Film Festival are available for purchase now online at https://www.sarasotafilmfestival.com and at the festival’s in-person box office locations. The box office will be open at the Sarasota Municipal Auditorium from March 14th through March 27th from 10AM to 5PM, and from March 28th through April 2nd from 9AM to 8PM; at CMX CinéBistro Siesta Key from March 25th through April 2nd from 5PM to 8PM; and at Burns Court Cinema from March 25th through April 2nd from 12PM to 7PM.
Visit https://www.sarasotafilmfestival.com for further information on the 25th annual Sarasota Film Festival and all SFF year-round programming.
2023 Sarasota Film Festival Lineup
OPENING NIGHT FILM
CIRQUE DU SOLEIL: WITHOUT A NET
dir. Dawn Porter (USA), 2022
When the world shut down, its greatest Circus went into freefall. Within 48 hours Cirque du Soleil closed all its 44 shows; within a week it let 95% of its workforce go. Now, more than a year later, a group of world-class artists, athletes and crew at “O”, Cirque’s flagship production, face uncertainty as they prepare to bring their show back to life. With unprecedented access, this film documents their extraordinary journey as they attempt a return to stage after one of the world’s greatest crises.
*Please note the film is also screening in the Directed by Women Feature
CLOSING NIGHT FILM
ON A WING AND A PRAYER
dir. Sean McNamara (USA), 2023
In this extraordinary true story of faith and survival,On a Wing and a Prayer follows passenger
Doug White’s (Dennis Quaid) harrowing journey to safely land a plane and save his entire family
from insurmountable danger, after their pilot dies unexpectedly mid-flight.
DOCUMENTARY CENTERPIECE FILMS
dir. Barbara Kopple (USA), 2022
GUMBO COALITION takes us on an intimate – and sometimes humorous – journey into Marc Morial, NUL, and Janet Murguia, UnidosUS, lives, homes and the family histories that motivate their mission to achieve a more just and equitable country.
*Please note this film is also screening in the African American Focus Sidebar and the Directed by Women Sidebar
BEING MARY TYLER MOORE
dir. James Adolphus (USA), 2023
With unprecedented access to Mary Tyler Moore’s vast archive, BEING MARY TYLER MOORE chronicles
the screen icon whose storied career spanned sixty years. Weaving Moore’s personal narrative with the
beats of her professional accomplishments, the film highlights her groundbreaking roles and the indelible
impact she had on generations of women who came after her.
dir. Bethann Hardison & Frédéric Tcheng (USA), 2023
Fashion revolutionary and model turned agent and activist Bethann Hardison knew that Black is beautiful well before the fashion industry acknowledged the truth. From walking runway shows alongside Iman to discovering supermodels like Tyson Beckford and mentoring icons like Naomi Campbell, Hardison has been at the epicenter of major representational shifts in fashion. Catalyzing change requires continuous championing, and as the next generation takes the reins, Hardison reflects on her personal journey and the cost of being a pioneer.
*Please note this film is also screening as a Documentary Feature Competition selection, and in the African American Focus Sidebar and the Directed by Women Sidebar
IT’S ONLY LIFE AFTER ALL
East Coast Premiere
dir. Alexandria Bombach (USA), 2023
Blending 40 years of home movies, raw film archive, and intimate present-day verité, a poignant reflection from Amy Ray & Emily Saliers of Indigo Girls – the iconic folk rock duo. A timely look into the obstacles, activism, and life lessons of two queer friends who never expected to make it big.
*Please note this film is also screening in the Music Focus Sidebar, the Directed by Women Sidebar, and the LGBTQ Focus Sidebar
JUDY BLUME FOREVER
dir. Davina Pardo & Leah Wolchok (USA), 2023
Generations of readers have found themselves in a Judy Blume book. Her name alone unleashes a flood of memories for anyone who’s gripped one of her many paperbacks. For decades, Blume’s radical honesty has comforted and captivated readers — and landed her at the center of controversy for her frankness about puberty and sex. Now the beloved American author candidly shares her own coming-of-age story.
*Please note the film is also screening in the Directed by Women Sidebar
dir. Maxim Pozdorovkin (USA), 2022
An animated film about the biggest lie ever told: Jews are plotting to take over the world. Behind the torch-bearing chants of “Jews will not replace us” is an age-old myth. As we follow this myth from the fringe to the mainstream, three Jewish families are made into scapegoats, their names forever linked to the notion that Jews are a monolithic group set on world domination.
*Please note this film is also screening in the Documentary Feature Competition and in the Jewish Focus Sidebar
East Coast Premiere
dir. Andrew Durham (USA), 2023