SARASOTA FILM FESTIVAL PRESENTATION of
FEBRUARY 1, 2003 at THE HOLLYWOOD 20 CINEMAS
REVIEW by DIANE OGDEN
The movie opens in the city of New Orleans with the looming face of Sonny, our lead character, (extraordinarily acted by James Franco), back from three years in the army and longing for a future radically different from his past and that of his family. Born into a history of prostitution, Sonny, a much sought-after male prostitute, longs for a "normal" life, away from his clinging and controlling mother, Jewel, played by Brenda Blethyn. Jewel, however, has plans for Sonny to pick up where he left off, and so introduces him to Carol, Jewel's newest "girl", beautifully portrayed by the young and charming Mena Suvari (American Beauty). Carol is young but world-weary, with big dreams of breaking away from her life and living a "normal" (if pretentious) life, with all that "normal" implies. If she has to fake it, she will, but she will get out.
Harry Dean Stanton, as mom's paramour (in reality, Sonny's father) gives a richly moving and compelling performance as a man who desperately wants his son to transcend his own life and failure, but is at a loss as to how to help him and still remain in Jewel's good graces.
Little by little, Sonny's opportunities to go "straight" slip through his fingers, and he ultimately falls back to his old way of life, with some tragic consequences. Seeing Sonny's anger come to a boil is expected but somehow scorchingly painful to watch.
Brenda Vacarro, as one of Sonny's "old" clients, gives a remarkably credible and affecting performance. Nicolas Cage in a short, but memorable, role is comical yet scary.
Watching Sonny desperately try to sustain his desire to go straight is heartbreakingly real, and in the end, despite overwhelming odds, it seems that some things are not impossible after all.
This is an amazing film and as Nicolas Cage's directorial debut, a stunner in this reviewer's opinion. See it....I know you'll agree.
SARASOTA FILM FESTIVAL PRESENTATION OF BOLLYWOOD/HOLLYWOOD
AT THE HOLLYWOOD 20 CINEMAS
REVIEW BY GLENNA PALM
As voiced by Deepa Mehta, the writer/director, her story, set in Toronto, is a Western/Eastern amalgamation looking at today’s East Indians living abroad.
Rahul Khanna, the handsome male lead, gives a sensitive, sensual performance as Rahul, an East Indian who, because of a promise to his dying father, is trying to balance his culturally correct familial role with his own needs and desires.
His family thanks their ‘Hindu Trinity’ when Rachel’s white lover, singing star Jessica Pare, playing herself, dies in an accident. Now Mamma-g and Grandma-g set the wheels in motion to marry Rahul off to an Indian girl before pregnant sister, Twinky-g is allowed to complete her wedding plans.
A hilarious bunch of ‘matches’ are paraded through the family’s extravagant estate as prospective brides for Rahul but alas, none suitable for our reluctant, broken-hearted bachelor.
Enter…. a strikingly beautiful brunette named Sue and played to the hilt by Lisa Ray. She picks Rahul up at a dance club and by the end of the evening Rahul hires Sue, believing her to be Spanish, to learn Indian customs and play the role of his Indian fiancée. Only Rocky-g, a drag queen by night and faithful family chauffeur by day knows their secret.
As the plot thickens, Sue ingratiates herself with the lovable but kooky family and so gets invited by Momma-g to come live with them until the wedding…
None of the members of the family are a match for our Sue, who is so charming and convincing in her role that they all ‘fall for her’, including cute, but shrewd little Grandma-g.
There is a delightful scene at Twinkie and Bobby’s bachelor/bachelorette party where they all break into a song/dance routine reminiscent of the Hollywood musicals. It’s an example of what Ms. Mehta does throughout the movie…an innovative and energetic joining of Bollywood and Hollywood.
When Rahul and Sue truly do fall in love, she confesses she really is Indian It all makes for the perfect ‘Pretty Woman’ type ending…and as the sub-title says, "Please to Bless the Happy Couple"
Our writer weaves the mix of East Indian traditions with, of all things, the North American Pop culture, and ‘please to bless a winner!’
It’s an entertaining, tongue-in-cheek cinematic farce that may have broad appeal.
THE SARASOTA FILM FESTIVAL PRESENTATION OF
AT THE HOLLYWOOD 20 CINEMAS
REVIEW BY GLENNA PALM
HEY, WE’RE ALL INVITED!!! LET’S GO TO A GARAGE SALE!!!!
Based on some real-life adventures of Randy Nargi, writer/director and his wife/writer/actor Jessi Badami, this original ‘mocumentary’ focuses on a bunch of totally wacky but strangely familiar characters whose compulsion in life is tracking down next weeks’ garage sales. Set in Bogwood, Oregon, purported to be the ‘G-sale capitol of the US’ -(each home boasting an average of 4.5 garages and growing) – our zany characters’ lives’ seductively begin to unfold.
There’s the hackneyed former actor, Dick, whose career could be summed up when his role in a 60’s TV sit-com as a 6’2 leprechaun ended and he became forever typecast! Now his search was on, along with the other bungling but lovable hunters, for the ‘Pot-o-Gold’ board game!
Jessi Badami was incredibly real as Angela, an obsessive researcher/wine imbiber relentlessly pursuing anything from the 70’s retro-modern; Ed, a placid computer programmer whose claim to fame is one cult game of "Caves & Beasts"; BJ and Helen, a couple of clownish, ill-matched antique store partners and other minor comical walk-ons…they all converge on our comic sensibilities as finally come together at the frenzied estate/G-sale of the Fenwick’s, a quirky husband and wife retiring to a condo in mmmm… (a little literary license maybe…. Sarasota?). As each uncover personal treasures, all scramble over the ‘Big Find’…an original ‘Pot-O-Gold’ board game…it finally ends up the hands of its rightful progenitor, Dick, who sells it to the Japanese for a small fortune. As it turns out, what seems the most chaotic G-sale for all our participants is a blessing in disguise. Dick used his ‘fortune’ to form a ‘Bogwood ‘Bogdance’ (cum Riverdance) Troop…The Fenwicks, in their electric blue matching jogging suits, are a picture of retirement ‘bliss’, Angela sold her complete retro-modern collection and is resolving to ‘kick the habit’, Ed ‘swore off’ after his wife sued for divorce, BJ formed an alliance in an internet business that brings ex-prisoners together…. and Helen left the retro-modern business to return to her first love, the Mex-Tex period antiques.
SARASOTA FILM FESTIVAL SCREENING OF
"THE BREAD, MY SWEET"
JAN. 28, 2003 AT HOLLYWOOD 20
REVIEW BY GLENNA PALM
In Italian, a good man is loosely interpreted as a ‘piece of bread and so always welcome’. Having said that, forget about the name and just enjoy! Its an absolute charmer……. and engages you from the beginning in the lives of three Italian brothers running their family bakery in the ‘strip’ district of Pittsburgh. Scott Baio plays Dominick Pyzola, (the bread), a lovable, loyal brother whose education moves him out of the Pyzola ‘Biscotti Bakery’ business into the corporate world, but his heart is in ‘bread’. Brother Pino, somewhat retarded, is an artist at pie-making and Eddie, a baker/cum/actor is the ladies man.
Then we meet Bella, an Italian immigrant neighbor, played brilliantly and comically by Rosemary Prinz, surrogate mother of the brothers, and Massimo, her husband who live in the upstairs flat next to the bakery.
Some of the most touching, funny and sensitive moments in the film are shared by Dom and Bella, as they interact and discuss her daughter, Lucca, who, after graduating law school, ran off to join the Peace Corps; the coffee cans on the shelf where Bella is hiding money for Lucca’s wedding, and scenes of real intimacy and realism created by the backdrop of a tenement rooftop garden. Some of the most delicious and beautiful moments in the film are the food scenes……..mmmm…..homemade Italian EVERYTHING – food and vino!! It was a feast for the eyes and salivary glands.
When Bella reveals to Dom, in secret, that she is dying of cancer, he faces his ‘moment of truth’, quits his corporate job, decides to bring Lucca home and convince her to marry him in order to give Bella her dream of ‘emptying the coffee cans’ for Lucca’s wedding.
So Dom and Lucca agree to marry for the sake of Bella and split after her death.
The planning of the wedding was funny and bittersweet but Bella didn’t survive til the big day.
And you can guess the ending…… yes, Dom and Lucca do fall in love.
In Dom’s words, "life is- (no not like chocolate)- like a cookie……fragile and sweet"……and it’s a ‘sweet’ and thoroughly enjoyable film.
SARASOTA FILM FESTIVAL SCREENING OF ‘FAR FROM HEAVEN’....SFF
JANUARY 25, 2003 AT REGAL HOLLYWOOD 20
REVIEW BY GLENNA PALM
One of the Critics Choice Awards’ top ten nominees for best independent films for 2002 was this evening’s presentation at downtown Hollywood 20. Far From Heaven is an emotionally perplexing film that eerily moves one back in time to the 50’s. Set in the upscale suburbs of Hartford, Connecticut, Todd Haynes, writer/director, captures the period beautifully with his intriguing and artistic use of color, shadows, lighting and sound without overwhelming the story itself.
Kathy Whittaker is the perfect ‘Stepford’ wife with the perfect marriage, home and of course two made to order boy-then-girl children .
Kathy, played by Julianne Moore, gives a touching portrait of a ‘role model’
Housewife and mother, hostess, and community leader with a social conscience but functioning within the accepted boundaries and taboos of her ‘Stepford’ environment. . Dennis Quaid in the role of Kathy’s husband, Frank, is a stereotypical type A handsome and charming executive for ‘THE’ major company in the town. Just as things seem too superficial to be interesting, Kathy catches Frank in his office in the arms of another ‘man’ and we then become involved in their emotional turmoil…..especially Kathy’s. Strangely, Frank seems to be ‘freed up’ with his confession… but Kathy, taking on and accepting Franks ‘secret’, seems even more imprisoned in her role. Then the issue of racial prejudice develops as Kathy forms a deep friendship with her black gardener, played powerfully by Dennis Haysbert. Ultimately, Frank divorces Kathy and moves in with his male lover. Raymond, Kathy’s black friend, suffers business losses and harassment because of his friendship with Kathy and leaves town.
The plot can move slowly at times but the enchanting, spiritual-like quality of the musical score by Elmer Bernstein moves along ‘behind the emotions of the story’ and keeps you totally involved. Plus the cinematography by Ed Larhman is captivating.
SARASOTA FILM FESTIVAL – OPENING NIGHT FILM PARTY – VAN WEZEL
REVIEW FOR" KISS THE BRIDE" SCREENING
BY GLENNA PALM
The first of the Sarasota Film Fests screenings, ‘Kiss the Bride’ was presented at Van Wetzel in a party atmosphere as the ‘grand opening’ of what is becoming an important national festival venue for ‘independent’ films.
This little low-budget, ‘family’ type production presents a dichotomy of a stereotypical but ‘severely’ dysfunctional Italian family in New England…from sweet, wacky grandma, loving, loyal mom, tough, stoic dad to four typically contrived screwed-up sisters. Danni, played by Amanda Detner as the ‘bride’ is the least psychotic of the sisters, engaged to Jeff, a ‘too-sweet-to-be real’ hunk played by Jonathan Schaech…..
The other three sisters who are reminiscent of a ‘Tennessee Williams’ homecoming are Nicky, the frustrated actress, Chrissie, the business woman/libber, and Toni, folk/rock singer/lesbian. …Something for everyone…
As they are reunited for the wedding, the life-long sibling rivalry and jealousies surface to make this a ‘knock-down-drag-out’ war of words. Some wonderful laughs and insights into ethnic Italian families, customs and yummy ‘food’ scenes…. and as independent films go, it was definitely off-beat and up-beat…but none- the- less, somewhat ‘contrived’ for my taste.
The creative and vibrant personality of writer/director/co-producer/actor Vanessa Parisi was evident as she addressed the crowd after the screening. Along with Co-Producer Jordan Gertner and actor Johathan Schaech, there was a lively question/answer session that seemed to be reflect a very positive connection with the audience.
After the screening, a huge crowd of first nighters moved into the Van Wezel lounge and outdoor tent to hob-nob with the celibs and enjoy super music from two bands (take your pick), dancing and fantastic fare.
SARASOTA FILM FESTIVAL
January 24 – February 2, 2003
Richard Dreyfuss, Rita Moreno Elmer Bernstein, Todd Haynes, Jeff Goldblum, Andrew McCarthy, Deepa Mehta, Reno, Ally Sheedy, and Olympia Dukakis are just a few of the folks flying in to Sarasota to participate in, and help celebrate, the 5th Annual SARASOTA FILM FESTIVAL. The newly expanded 10-day event will take place in the Gulf Coast resort city of Sarasota, Florida January 24 thru February 2, 2003.
The SARASOTA FILM FESTIVAL (SFF) is dedicated to exploring and presenting unique and high quality cinema in a festival atmosphere for the purpose of educating, stimulating and entertaining our audience. The festival environment supports and encourages the filmmaker by supplying essential networking opportunities and open dialogue with intelligent, creative and inquisitive consumers of film. For our 5th Anniversary outing, SFF will present an extraordinary line-up of International & US independent features, shorts, documentaries, student films and special events celebrating special guests and their contributions to the art of filmmaking.
The spectacular Van Wezel Performing Arts Center perfectly sets the stage for the thrilling opening weekend of the Sarasota Film Festival. Kicking-off the Festival is our Opening Night Film and Celebration. Join us for a splendid night of nuptials with the Award-winning Kiss The Bride directed by and starring Vanessa Parise along with Alyssa Milano, Johnathon Schaech, Talia Shire, and Burt Young and followed by a festive party with the ‘wedding party’ in the Van Wezel’s elegant Grand Foyer.
The following evening, Saturday, January 25, the Festival partners with the Florida West Coast Symphony to present a spectacular concert celebrating music and the movies. Academy Award© winning composer Elmer Bernstein will conduct the Symphony in an evening of his well known film scores including The Magnificent Seven, The Ten Commandments, The Great Escape, Thoroughly Modern Millie and the current critically acclaimed Far From Heaven for which Mr. Bernstein is already garnering numerous awards and hot Oscar© speculation. Far From Heaven will be screened that afternoon, and the film’s director Todd Haynes will be in town to support Mr. Bernstein (both gents have been nominated for a Golden Globe Award) and join him in a post-screening panel. (Todd Haynes will also participate in the In Focus discussion on “Storytelling and Screenwriting”). The after-concert party will be held at the Beatrice Friedman Symphony Center, a short walk from the Van Wezel with entertainment from Sarasota’s own Jennifer and the Venturas.
Sunday, January 26, the Festival will present Women’s Voices a selection of films from around the world by and about women. Among the films screened will be Reno: Rebel Without a Pause based on the stage play that has performance artist Reno reflecting on the events in her World Trade Center neighborhood on September 11. Reno will be in town and will perform at McCurdy’s Comedy Club on January 27. Two other films highlighted here will be Expecting, directed by Deborah Day, Starring Valerie Buhagiar, Angela Gei, Debra McGrath, Barbara Radecki, Colin Mochrie and Tom Melissis, is all about birth, rebirth, and all the contractions in between. Manfast, directed by Tara Judelle, Starring Lala Sloatman, Jeremy Sisto, Klea Scott, Annabelle Gurwitch, Eve Plumb, Lin Shaye and Bruce Davison. The story follows four hard-partying, post-feminist, self-labelled "manaholics" who live in the affectionately-named "House of Babes" in Tallahasseee and publish a struggling zine titled Biotch.
The Opening weekend also finds the SFF Outreach and Education programs getting underway. The mission of our educational programming is simple: to encourage an understanding of media through seminars, filmmaker interactions, community events and multi-cultural and innovative programming.
The Tropicana KidsFest has grown from a morning program of youth oriented films to a two-weekend series of films, programs, workshops and interactive experiences highlighted by screenings of the all-time, all-age favorites The Wizard of Oz and Disney’s Beauty and the Beast the only animated film ever nominated for Best Picture. This interactive presentation of Beauty will feature a demonstration on the use of props, costume contests, sing-a-long, and a special curtain call, performance and reception with the actress Paige O’Hara, who gives us the voice of Belle in the film.
Other KidFest and Family fare films include A Beautiful Secret (Un Secreto De Esperanza), Mexico, directed by- Leopoldo Laborde, and starring Katy Jurado, Imanol and Jamie Aymerich. It's 1984, and Jorge a rebellious 12-year-old starts to understand that there is a lot more to life than he thinks. A Passage To Ottawa, Canada, directed by Gaurav Seth and starring Nabil Mehta, Jim Codrington, and Amy Sobol. Omi is an eight-year-old boy who is sent to live with his cousin in Ottawa because of his mother's illness back home, and Omi believes that he is on a mission to find a hero who will save her. In Ali & Danny, UK & Iran, directed by Vahid Nikkhah Azad, the language of international brotherhood and understanding comes to the fore. Minoes, The Netherlands, directed by Vincent Bal and starring Carice van Houten, Theo Maassen and Sarah Bannier. Tibbe, a junior journalist, is about to be fired when he meets the extraordinary Miss Minoes, who claims she used to be a cat, in a story where a happier ending is inconceivable. Saint Monica, (Narrative Competition), Canada, directed by Terrance Odette and starring Genevieve Buechner, Clare Coulter, Maurizio Terrazzano, Krista Bridges, Brigitte Bako is the story of Monica, age ten, who wants to be an angel, and Mary, a homeless woman who believes she is the Virgin Mary. Spellbound, USA, directed by Jeff Blitz, presents the intense, true-life experience of the National Spelling Bee as seen through the eyes of eight driven, young spellers. Two Summers, Canada, directed by Bruce Lapointe, and starring Matthew Harbour, Frank Fontaine, Chip Chuipka and Robert Crooks. When eight-year-old Lewis Poppy's curiousity leads him to discover a mannequin that immensely resembles his deceased mother, his long and difficult journey toward finding true companionship really begins.
This year will mark the premier of the Kids Critics program. A Jury of young critics will announce their top ‘flick picks’ for the festival. A discussion will follow moderated by Billy Norris the 15 year-old film critic for the Xpress segment of The St. Petersburg Times. In the Filmmakers In The Classroom program, area teens will meet with visiting filmmakers and will participate in a variety of discussions in classrooms around the area. This educational program engenders appreciation of film, and teaches the importance of creativity and ingenuity, and will give students the chance to develop new career paths and options. The Kids Trip Short Films Program presents high quality, nationally and internationally renowned films for area students. These short adventures bring the curriculum, which corresponds to programs in the Sarasota County schools curriculum, to life. Also included in Kids Trip is a Behind-the-Scenes Tour of the workings of the Festival.
The education and outreach program will also feature workshops, the popular Filmmakers Breakfasts, and In Focus discussions on topics such as The Festival Experience, Storytelling and Screenwriting, The Musical Score, Women in Film, Financing and Marketing Your Film, Playing the Hollywood Game, a Florida Filmmaking and Digital Forum and Why Does Foreign Film Feel So Foreign?
As part of the 2003 Sarasota Film Festival’s education and community outreach program, the Fest will team up with First Step, an organization whose mission is to prevent and treat alcohol/drug addictions and associated disorders to promote fully functioning, productive individuals whose lives are positive, to present a screening of the IFC film Manic followed by a panel discussion. Manic, a Jordan Melamed film starring Don Cheadle and Joseph Gordon-Levitt from “Third Rock from the Sun” is a riveting movie about the rage of a seventeen-year old boy and how he is forced to deal with his anger after being committed to a juvenile psychiatric ward in lieu of criminal prosecution.
Monday night, January 27, will find Academy Awardã winner Olympia Dukakis on hand for the Celebrity Symposium. The symposium includes a screening of a film featuring Ms. Dukakis followed by an in-depth dialogue with the audience that will explore the actress’s career and the art and technique of acting. The film to be screen is The Intended, UK, directed by Kristian Levring and starring Janet McTeer, Olympia Dukakis and Brenda Fricker. In a small trading outpost in the far Eastern jungle, back in the 1920s, a young British surveyor heads to the site with his intended to carve a road to nearby Batang. Events begin to conspire against them and trapped by greed, Sarah finds herself increasingly at the mercy of others.
Tuesday is the Festival’s Salute to the Independents with screenings from many acclaimed US independent filmmakers. Among the films highlighted here as well as on screens throughout the 10-day event in catagories such as Industry Spotlight, Independent Spirit, Crossing Borders and No Boundries are Ball In The House, directed by Tanya Wexler and starring Jonathan Tucker, Jennifer Tilly and David Strathairn. It’s the story of 17-year-old JJ, newly sober and struggling to keep an even keel in the emotionally turbulent world of real feelings. From deep in the east village of New York City comes The Adulterer, directed by Douglas Morse and starring Chris Diamantopoulos, Alice Ripley, Jeremy Kushnier and Lainie Ventura, a sensitive portrayal of a marriage in crisis with pitch black comedic overtones. Blind Spot, directed by Stephen Woloszczuk and starring James Franco and Shawn Montgomery. Danny, a lonely prep-school runaway, plans a road trip with a charismatic drifter named Darcy. In the odd and frightening events that ensue, three strangers steal their way from Death Valley to San Francisco, developing an unexpected bond that changes their lives forever. Dick Baby, directed by Mike Brand and starring Jhon Doria, Dan Rockett, Heather Carnduff, Brett Hershey. The fantastic tragedy of the so-called Dick Babies, the generation born during the Nixon administration. A visionary depiction of Americana and the gypsy culture that flooded the roadways at the end of the 20th century. Five Years, directed by Brett Wagner and starring Kris Carr, Timothy Altmeyer, Todd Swenson, Michael Buscemi, Cathy Doe. Renee Unger is living the life she always hoped for when her brother-in-law is released from juvenile prison, Renee's cozy life begins to change and she quickly decides that sharing her home with a murderer is her worst nightmare come true. G-Sale, directed by Randy Nargi and starring Jessi Badami, Scott Burns and Tracey Conway. When retirees Doris & Clayton Fenwick decide to empty their nest of retro-modern antiques, they set the wheels in motion for a frenzied “g-sale” involving Bogwood’s most avid garage sale junkies. Last Ball, directed by Peter Callahan and starring Charlie Hofheimer, Laurel Holloman, Leo Fitzpatrick. Ever wondered what you were going to do when you grew up? Or if you even wanted to grow up. Man Of The Year, directed by Straw Weisman and starring John Ritter, Lin Shaye, Leeza Gibbons and Heidi Mark. Meet Stuart, a wealthy industrialist, brash, smooth, charming and the perfect host for a most unusual party. Meet Bill, the guest of honor, the “Man of the Year.” Join them, their wives, their lovers, their friends, and their enemies for a night they’ll (and you'll) never forget. Martin & Orloff, directed by Lawrence Blume and starring Matt Walsh, Ian Roberts, David Cross, Amy Poehler, Jon Benjamin, Kim Raver, Matt Besser, Andy Richter, Janeane Garofalo. When Martin seeks therapy to treat his habitual depression, he hooks up with Dr. Orloff, a shrink with dubious credentials and an even more malleable notion of sanity. Mary / Mary, directed by Joseph H. Biancaniello and starring Jon Bernthal, Amy Drown, Sean Carrigan, Susan McMahon. The morning after a one night stand, Manny, a hypochondriac deathly afraid of contracting an STD, scrambles his way home. Manny soon meets a new girl, Mary and struggles to salvage intimacy with his new love. Monkey Love, directed by Mark Stratton and starring Amy Stewart, Jeremey Renner, Seamus Dever, Bianco Min, Neala Cohen, William Sanderson. Amy yearns for a better life. So she decides to dump it all and find new friends, new lovers and even new parents. But you can't very well dump your best friends, so she decides to sleep with both of them because (as we all know) you can dump your lover. New Suit, directed by François Velle and starring Jordan Bridges, Marisa Coughlan, Dan Hedaya, Heather Donahue. Just to see how gullible his "pals" really are, Kevin, a ‘Hollywood Assistant,’ invents a hot new script from a fictitious hot new writer, which is getting tremendous interest from his boss and other industry executives. A fortune awaits him if he can just bring himself to see his lie through to the end. Postcards From Paradise Park, directed by Curt Crane and starring Conrad Karlson, Bill Weeden, Shawn K. Curran, Karen Scioli, is a story about finding redemption and truth in, of all places, a trailer park. Roper & Goodie, directed by Jenny Wingfield. Roper Wylie (Mark Collie) is a broken-down, over-the-hill ex-rodeo cowboy. When he kidnaps wealthy socialite (Coley McCabe) and holds her for ransom, he has just one problem - her uptown husband doesn't want her back. What else can Roper do, but fall in love? The Bread, My Sweet, directed by Melissa Martin and starring Scott Baio, Kristin Minter, Rosemary Prinz and Shuler Hensley is a story of a corporate executive torn between his love for his biscotti bakery and climbing the corporate ladder. Welcome To The Neighborhood, directed by Gay Walch and starring Anthony Michael Jones, Alicia Coppola, Tim DeKay, Tia Texada, Michael Cudlitz. If you think your neighborhood is quirky, you haven't seen anything yet. In this movie of four cleverly interwoven stories, the filmmakers bring us a frightfully odd dinner guest, a relentlessly barking dog, and an incredibly paranoid boyfriend. Oh, yeah, and a neighborhood porn star. Fatal Fallout, directed by Gary Null. This documentary feature film examines a devastating but realistic what-if scenario, centered on the current controversy of emergency evacuation measures around nuclear sites. While featuring chilling, formerly classified archival footage shot at government nuclear test sites, the film makes clear that the fatal legacy of nuclear power, post-9/11, is no longer relegated to B&W newsreel or a child's nightmare's. A Tale Of Two Buds, directed by Carl Goldstein and starring Danny Smith, Brandon Quinn, Kevin Jubinville, Joris Jarsky, Panou. Benji and Richie, best friends since childhood, need a master plan to get them out of the rut of small town Englewood, Florida. The only thing that keeps the two friends going is their unshakable belief in their invention, Soda-Plops, until disaster strikes. The Backyard, directed by Paul Hough and starring Rob Van Dam, The Lizard, Sic, Heartless and Scar. Those who chose not to follow the traditional path to becoming a professional wrestler, live out their dreams in their backyards, using weapons such as barbed wire, cheese graters, staple guns, glass and mousetraps. On Six Mile Pond, directed by Wes Justice, Mamie McCall. Deep within the woods on the outskirts of Tallahassee, Florida lies Six-Mile Pond, where for generations now the unofficial sport of “Mudbogging” has been a unique pastime of some outdoor-loving southerners. Hell House, directed by George Ratliff. At first glance a souped-up Halloween haunted house, Hell Houses are modern-day fire-and-brimstone sermons replete with hundreds of actors, truckloads of lights, and full audio-visual tech crews. With full access to the behind-the-scenes action, Hell House follows the process from the first script meeting until the last of the 13,000 visitors passes through the Hell House doors. Last Dance, directed by Mirra Bank and starring Maurice Sendak, The Night Kitchen Theater, Pilobolus Dance Theatre, goes behind the scenes on a stormy collaboration between the iconoclastic dance company, Pilobolus, and legendary author-illustrator Maurice Sendak (Where the Wild Things Are). Over months of improv work in the studio, they transform a haunting holocaust legacy into a stunning, disturbing dance-theater piece. The Robert Cake, directed by Anthony Stella and starring Jeremy Gardner, Adam Wekarski, Natalie Saunders, Chris Frommeyer. Robert died. Robert had a will. Robert's last request was for his best friend to eat his cremated remains. Soon after the last bite, strange visions and overnight physical changes start to plague Brett. Not before long, Robert starts to take control of his body from the inside, leading to an unbelievable conclusion.
This 5th Anniversary year also inaugurates a new Competition Award to be presented to a new US independent film. Joining us in Sarasota as members of the Jury will be Producer Christine Vachon of Killer Films, IDP VP of Marketing RJ Millard, Executive VP of Acquisitions and Distribution at First Run Features Marc Mauceri, Award-winning Producer Reneè Valente, Sundance Channel’s Alan Baldachin and screenwriter Robert Hamilton. Narrative Competition films include The Last Place On Earth, USA, directed by James Slocum, and starring Tisha Campbell-Martin, Dana Ashbrook, Phyllis Diller, Billy Dee Williams, Brock Peters and Mitchell Anderson. Rob Baskin's mother passes away, and he must journey to the Sierra Nevada Mountains to scatter her ashes and learns what exactly is important to life and happiness. Zelimo, USA, directed by Aleks Rosenberg, and starring Eugene Mekinulov, Henry Lopez, Tatyana Zbirovskaya, and Emily Donahoe. A Jewish farm boy, Zelimo must find his place in America after his father and brother are killed in the family's desperate struggle to emigrate to freedom in the U.S. Manfast (see Women’s Voices). Saint Monica (see KidFest and Family Fare). The Documentary Competition films are Lenny Live, USA, director Mark Seliger’s look into the passions and reality of Rock Superstar Lenny Kravitz (who is trying to attend). Gigantic (A Tale Of Two Johns), USA, director AJ Schnack welcomes us to the surreal and poetic planet of Grammy-Award winners They Might Be Giants, the Brooklyn-based musical duo of John Flansburgh and John Linnell, who have spent the past twenty years crafting their singular alt-pop style - cerebral, dark, and humorous. Deconstructing The Myth Of Aids, USA, directed by Gary Null. Since 1984, we've accepted that HIV is the cause of AIDS. Dr. Null takes on the CDC and Prevention, the NIH, and the FDA by presenting the findings of Nobel Prize-winning scientists and leading virologists that call into question the research and findings of these institutions. The Hole In The Wall, India, directed by Rory O'Conner. A revolution in information technology is redefining poverty, as how much you know is becoming just as important as how much you own.
Wednesday, January 29th brings us the World Cinema Celebration and International Night. Films from countries such as Israel, Mexico, Iran, UK, India, Denmark, France and Cuba will be among the presentations shown throughout the 10-day event. The Festival’s World Cinema screenings will be celebrated in a lively street party at one of the City’s hippest evening destinations – Morton’s at Southside Village. Sarasota’s best restaurants serve up international fare amidst eclectic cultural entertainment, with dancers, Circus Sarasota performers and musical acts on hand to add to the festivity. Among the International films highlighted are Bollywood/Hollywood, Canada, directed by Deepa Mehta (who will be in town), and starring Rahul Khanna, Lisa Ray, Moushumi Chatterjee and Jessica Pare. Rahul, an attractive and wealthy Indian man, has broken a deathbed promise to his father: he has become engaged to a white pop star. When Rahul’s fiancée dies in an accident, he decides to bring home a girl his family will approve of and employs a mysterious woman named Sue to play the part of his Indian fiancée. Divine Intervention, Israel, directed by Elia Suleiman, starring Elia Suleiman, Manal Khader, Nayef Fahoum Daher, Amer Daher, Jamel Daher, George Ibrahim. The film tells the story of a filmmaker struggling to put the pieces together on a film of vignettes not unlike this film itself. It vividly portrays how love and laughter coexist with the backdrop of hate, violence, and anger in this tumultuous region of the world. Kira's Reason, Denmark, directed by Ole Christian Madsen, starring Stine Stengade and Lars Mikkelsen. Kira's unfaithful-but-loving husband welcomes her home after her lengthy stay in a psychiatric ward. That they love each other and want to return to normal family life is clear. Her quest for normalcy turns to desparation, and its only when they acknowledge the unspoken do they have a chance at happiness Together (Tillsammans), Sweden, directed by Lukas Moodysson, starring Lisa Lindgren, Michael Nyquist and Emma Samuelsson. A group of young prople all living communally find themselves questioning their long-held social and political beliefs as the world rapidly changes around them. Get A Way, France, directed by Noah Nuer, starring Agnes Roland & Maxime Desmons. What would you do if you had 20 minutes left in your life? It is exactly this question that challenges the two main characters in this film to reassess their behavior and attitudes towards the world and their families. Clear-eyed, witty, earnest and entirely original, this is a film of friendship. The Red Moon, (Luna Rossa), Italy, directed by Antonio Capuano, starring Licia Maglietta, Domenico Balsamo and Carlo Cecchi, is a tale about all the disorders and the disease generated by a cruel and barbaric family, a family whose members' only concern is to pursue Mafia power and the ultimate unravelling of the Family strength. My Wife, Maurice (Ma Femme s'appelle Maurice), France, directed by Jean Marie Poiré, starring Alice Evans, Goetz Otto, Regis Laspales, Philippe Chevallier. Emmanuelle is on the verge of making her dearest ambition come true: marry an millionaire who’ll take her to the top when she finds out George is already married, and that all his money actually belongs to his wife. Fidel, USA & Cuba, directed by Estela Bravo. As Fidel Castro nears 44 years as the leader of Cuba, there are many who see him as a champion of the poor and powerless and others who say he is a ruthless dictator. FIDEL offers a unique opportunity to view the man through exclusive interviews with Castro himself, historians, public figures, and close friends, with footage from the Cuban State archives. I Capture The Castle, United Kingdom, directed by Tim Fywell, starring Romola Garai, Bill Nighy, Rose Byrne, Marc Blucas, Tara Fitzgerald, Henry Thomas. A Jane Austin-style romance about Cassandra, a 17-year old fledging writer who lives with her brother, sister, and bohemian parents in a rundown English castle. Karmen Geï, Senegal, directed by Joseph Gaï Ramaka, is the first African Carmen complete with indigenous Senegalese music and choreography. Tosca, Italy, directed by Benoît Jacquot, starring Angela Gheorghiu, Roberto Alagna, Ruggero Raimondi, Orchestra & Chorus of the Royal Opera House-Covent Garden, Tiffin Boy's Choir. How often has it been said that opera can’t be translated into film? TOSCA will change the minds of the most diehard opera buffs and win over newcomers to the art. Yossi And Jagger (Yossi Ve Jager), Israel, directed by Eytan Fox, starring Ohad Knoler, Yehuda Levi. Yossi & Jagger are officers in the Israeli army. They are also lovers. Their hidden relationship complicates things in the remote outpost where they serve. He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not, France, directed by Laetitia Colombani, starring Audrey Tautou, Samuel Le Bihan. A duplicitous look at the love affair between Angelique and Loic. Split into two halves, the film shows us the lovers’ vastly different views of their relationship. It is at once a comedy and a thriller, a love story and a tragedy, a delightful and disturbing exploration of the way reality can change from person to person.
Also on the international side is the Canadian Showcase, which will present films and filmmakers from Canada. Presented in conjunction with Canada’s Bravo!FACT, the showcase will feature full-length and short films and Bravo!FACT’s Executive Director, Judy Gladstone, will be in to moderate a panel on “Marketing Your Short Film.” Among the many films in various festival programs is Dracula: A Virgin’s Diary, Canada, directed by Guy Maddin. Dracula, the almost quaint legendary evil - but irresistible - villain - is granted yet another resurrection in this filmed adaptation of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet's production. The film - silent, with a rousing score, colorless except for blood and money, and shrouded in darkness and smoke - is a regular jump-cutting, baby-eating mass orgy.
The annual Luncheon Under The Banyans, held on Thursday, January 30, at the beautiful Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, and presented by Turner Classic Movies, will honor the talented performer – and the first to win an Oscar, Grammy, Tony and Emmy Award – Rita Moreno. This delightful luncheon will feature a selection of clips from Ms. Moreno’s extensive career including such great films as Marlow, Carnal Knowledge, The Ritz (which recreated her Tony Award winning performance from the hilarious stage show) and The Four Seasons. That evening the SFF will present a special screening of the classic film West Side Story with an introduction and discussion on the film by Ms. Moreno.
One of the highlights of the festival is always the Night of 1000 Stars screenings and party. On Friday night, January 31, Sarasota will be host to some of the independent film world’s most exciting films and actors. Among the films and stars scheduled to wing in for the event will be The Interrogation Of Michael Crowe, directed by Don McBrearty and starring Ally Sheedy who will be in town. A compelling dramatization of this shocking true story about a boy who was forced to endure an excrutiating police interrogation into the 1998 murder of his 12-year-old sister, Stephanie. Straight From The Heart, directed by David Cass, with stars Teri Polo, Andrew McCarthy, Greg Evigan and Christine Tucci coming in. A romantic drama about two dissimilar people who meet through a classified personal ad and realize that the only thing they have in common is mutual distrust. Jeff Goldbloom and director Roger Spottiswoode will be in from Spinning Boris, where Russian political elite hires American consultants to help with President Yeltsin's re-election campaign when his approval rating is down to single digits. Also starring Anthony LaPaglia, Liev Schreiber and Svetlana Efremova. Stealing Sinatra, directed by Ron Underwood and starring David Arquette, William H. Macy, Thomas Ian Nicholas and Ryan Browing tells us that hours before his concert in Lake Tahoe, Frank Sinatra, Jr. was kidnapped from his hotel at gunpoint by two men, but, the kidnappers were quickly rounded up when one turned himself in to the FBI. Sonny, directed by Nicolas Cage (directorial debut), stars James Franco, Mena Suvari and Brenda Blethyn, in a fierce, gritty portrayal of the 26 year-old son of an aging madame, and also one of the city’s most respected and lusted-after male prostitutes, who returns home after a three-year stint in the army, with dreams of transcending his previous occupation and escaping the reckless neediness of his mother, Jewel. The SFF completes its night of celebrities and screenings with a gala party at Michael’s On East, celebrating the best in independent filmmaking. This night is always a high-energy festival favorite.
Saturday night, February 1 finds us at The Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota (the Official Hotel of the Sarasota Film Festival) for the elegant black-tie Tribute Dinner presented by Bank of America and sponsored by AMC, Comcast Cable and the Mark P. Famiglio Foundation. This year’s Regal Entertainment Career Achievement Honoree will be actor Richard Dreyfuss. There will be film clips and guest presenters on hand to highlight the incredible career of our honoree. That afternoon, there will be a special screening of Mr. Holland’s Opus with Mr. Dreyfuss introducing the film
And the fun continues with the Late Night Wrap Party where all can unwrap and unwind with our guest filmmakers and stars and be prepared for anything as we celebrate the 2003 Sarasota Film Festival.
Sunday, February 2 will be the Best of the Fest where we’ll be screening the most popular and acclaimed films of the past nine days.
Last years Sarasota Film Festival was an enriching experience. For an Our Town 50 recap visit:
Sarasota Film Festival opening night at the Van Wezel featured live music.
Vanessa Parisse - writer/director/co-producer/actor of Kiss the Bride and Jonathan Schaech - who plays Eric, the male lead. as they answer questions after Friday nights showing at the Van Wezel.
Exotic dancers filled the streets at the SFF World Cinema Celebration on Osprey.
5TH ANNUAL SARASOTA FILM FESTIVAL
The Sarasota Film Festival presented its Awards at a Ceremony in Main Plaza – adjacent to the Hollywood 20 where the screenings are presented. Programmer Mark Marvell presented the Awards.
The 5th Annual Sarasota Film Festival Awards went to:
Excellence in Filmmaking Award- KISS THE BRIDE- Vanessa Parise –Director
Excellence in Student Filmmaking Award- Florida State University Film School in Tallahassee- titles include EVERY LITTLE GIRL’S DREAM –Liz Rizzo, VIRGIN- David Mitchell, HUNGER- Jennifer Perchalla, JACOB: THE MOVIE- Wes Ball, ON SIX-MILE POND- Wes Justice and Mamie McCall, & ANTS- Cory Claffey-Koller. Accepted by Kathleen Barber.
Audience Awards- film production software prizes courtesy Media Services Los Angeles
Best Documentary- SPELLBOUND- Jeff Blitz- director, Sean Welch- producer
Best Comedy- BOLLYWOOD/HOLLYWOOD- Deepa Mehta- director, David Hamilton- producer
Best Drama- A BEAUTIFUL SECRET- Leopoldo Laborde- director, Moises Jafif & Benito Salerno- producers
Kodak Emerging Filmmaker’s Short Film Award- $1,000 Motion Picture Film Grant from Kodak and $1,000 cash prize courtesy the Mark P. Famiglio Foundation. A MAN’S LIFE- Paul Quarrington- director, Shannon Farr- producer
Programmer’s Choice Award
LAST DANCE- Mirra Bank- director, Mirra Bank & Vic Losic – producers
Competition Films and Jury
Competition cash awards made possible through the generosity of the Amicus Foundation, the Mark P. Famiglio Foundation, and the Petrik Family.
Cultural Impressions Documentary Film Award- DECONSTRUCTING THE MYTH OF AIDS- Gary Null, director & producer. With special honorable mention to GIGANTIC (A Tale of Two Johns)- AJ Schnack-director, Shirley Moyers- producer.
Cultural Expressions Narrative Film Award- SAINT MONICA- Terrance Odette- director, Sharon McGowen- producer. With special honorable mention to MANFAST- Tara Judelle- director, Vesco Razpopov- producer.
This year’s Jury included:
Christine Vachon- Producer- Killer Films
RJ Millard- Vice President of Marketing IDP/Samuel Goldwyn/Fireworks Pictures
Marc Mauceri- Executive Vice President of Acquisitions and Distribution at First Run Features
Alan Baldachin- Vice President Business Affairs Sundance Channel
Renee Valente- Emmy award winning producer Valente Productions
Robert Hamilton- Screenwriter
Michael McKinney & Elizabeth Santoro- Independent Filmmakers- GUNSLINGERS.
JACK & CHRISTINE DOUGLAS
JOIN THE LIST OF PARTICIPANTS AT THE
5TH ANNUAL SARASOTA FILM FESTIVAL
STEVEN TYLER & MEMBERS OF AEROSMITH
CHEAP TRICK’S RICK NIELSEN & ROBIN ZANDER
PATTY SMYTHE, STEVEN BRILL & DANNY PROVENZANO
TO JOIN PREVIOUSLY ANNOUNCED
FARRAH FAWCETT, PENNY MARSHALL, DAVID JOHANSEN, RAIN PHOENIX,
JACK & CHRISTINE DOUGLAS
5TH ANNUAL SARASOTA FILMS FESTIVAL’S
LATE NIGHT UNWRAP BASH
The Late Night UnWrap party at the Sarasota Hyatt closing out the 5th ANNUAL SARASOTA FILM FESTIVAL will be the place to be this Saturday Night. Legendary record producer Jack Douglas will be feted and presented with the 1st Annual Jack Douglas Award for Achievements in Music and Film. Winging in to Sarasota from around the country to help Jack celebrate will be a high voltage group including Steven Tyler and other Aerosmith band members; Cheap Trick’s Rick Nielsen and Robin Zander; singer Patty Smythe (married to tennis’ John McEnroe), actor/witer/director (Mr Deeds, Little Nicky) Steven Brill, Penny Marshall, Farrah Fawcett, David Johansen, Rain Phoenix, Christine Douglas and filmmaker Danny Provenzano among others.
The evening will cap 10 days of films, seminars, special events, programs and parties that was the 5th Annual Festival. Entertainment includes local band, Jennifer and the Venturas. Rain Phoenix, part of the acting family that also includes Joaquin, Liberty, and Summer, will also be on hand to perform with her band, The Paper Cranes, and expects a number of special guest jammers to join in onstage.
Earlier in the evening the guests will all attend the festivities at the Ritz Carlton, Sarasota to honor Regal Entertainment Career Achievement Award winner Richard Dreyfuss. They will also be at the Hollywood 20 for a short documentary on Jack, and the world premiere of the short film directed by Danny Provenzano (represented last year with “This Thing of Ours” for which Douglas produced the music including some Aerosmith tunes), based on an interesting little project of Douglas’ -- “Mob Story: A Hip Hopera.” Jack calls “Mob Story” “a sort of an Italian mob Opera done in real ‘Gangster’ Rap.”
Jack Douglas is a Grammy award-winning producer whose credits include some of Rock’s true legends; Yoko Ono, John Lennon, The Who, Cheap Trick, Alice Cooper, Aerosmith, and the hit television show “The Sopranos.” He has worked with Blue Oyster Cult, Lou Reed, Mountain, Patti Smith, The New York Dolls (featuring David Johansen) and many others. Jody Kielbasa, SFF’s Executive Director, states “Jack Douglas is a heavyweight in the music industry. Recent work has brought him further into the film world. It’s Jack’s unique melding of these two mediums that we honor here.” He is currently in the studio with Aerosmith working on a new album.
The pre-party begins at 10 pm; Hyatt Ballroom doors & VIP lounge open at 11:47 pm. Tickets for the Late Night UnWrap party, underwritten by Mark P. Famiglio, are EXTREMELY LIMITED at $50 general admission and $100 VIP access. Tickets can be purchased online at www.sarasotafilmfestival.com -- THIS IS THE FASTEST & EASIEST METHOD -- at the Sarasota Film Festival box office in Main Plaza (1991 Main Street) adjacent to the Hollywood 20; or by calling 941-364-9514.