Friday, March 31st saw the kick off of what has the potential of being, along with SXSW, an excellent Southern U.S. one-two punch on the domestic fest circuit. Under the expert stewardship of exec director Jody Kielbasa and 2nd year director of programming Tom “Come on you Reds!” Hall, The Sarasota Fim Festival has been on the lips of many an industryite when the question of “Where to?” is asked in April. Wanna know why?
Well for starters, a good public festival (as opposed to mainly industry events like Sundance and Cannes) should have a healthy mix of films and events that appeal to both the film fanatic and the weekend multi-plexer, with plenty of crossover opportunities. Not that the former fests don’t have a mix, it’s just that, well, Jane and John Q. Public don’t get to go to those places, really.
I mean, if the local arthouse was running a series of the documentaries of Werner Herzog, sure people would go, but the chance that someone shut out of a Friday night’s screening of Silent Hill on 13th st. would wander down to Film Forum to catch the 8pm of Little Dieter Needs To Fly are about the same as Dick Cheney writing a book called Ambidextrous: How To Shoot and Drink. See? That’s where fests like Sarasota come in.
One of the beauties of a film festival is that if the film you had your heart set on, Terry Zwigoff‘s upcoming Art School Confidential for example, was sold out this weekend and you were dead set on seeing something, maybe you took a chance and saw Goran Dukic‘s Wristcutters: A Love Story or Mohammad Rasoulof‘s upcoming release Iron Island. You savvy? You go the theater expecting to see one thing, but circumstances throw you a curveball and instead of standing there and watching it sail by, you hit it out of the park. See how easy?
Starting Wednesday, I’ll be in Sarasota reporting daily with reviews, party reports, pix, and maybe even a few surprises. Folks expected at the fest include Robert Altman, Werner Herzog, Robert Towne, Mary Harron, William H Macy as well as his lovely and equally talented “better half” Felicity Huffman, Allison Janney and Joey Pants! How fuckin’ cool is that?
Come on back and check out the fun and while you’re at it, check out Tom’s blog, The Back Row Manifesto. I am sure he won’t be updating much during the fest (here’s his latest…he likes big pix!), but he’s a top notch writer and an original and creative mind.