Sarasota Film Festival Announces Line-up; Fest Will Honor Elmer Bernstein, Richard Dreyfuss
by Brian Brooks
Florida's Gulf Coast is readying for an onslaught of U.S. and international films along with a cadre of stars including Richard Dreyfuss, Olympia Dukakis, Elmer Bernstein, Todd Haynes, and more for the fifth annual Sarasota Film Festival. Opening the 10-day event is Vanessa Parise's romantic drama "Kiss the Bride," which will be followed by a party in the Van Wezel Performing Arts Center Grand Foyer. Academy Award winning composer Elmer Bernstein will also be in town to conduct the Florida West Coast Symphony the following night for a concert of his scores from films including "The Magnificent Seven," "The Ten Commandments," "The Great Escape," "Thoroughly Modern Millie," as well as from the current critically acclaimed score for "Far From Heaven," which has earned him a Golden Globe nomination. "Far From Heaven," Todd Haynes' critical and festival favorite starring Julianne Moore and Dennis Quaid, will screen earlier that afternoon.
Sarasota will feature various themed sections including "Women's Voices," a presentation of international films about women. "Reno: Rebel Without a Pause," featuring artist Reno in a performance following September 11. Reno will be in town for a show at McCurdy's Comedy Club on January 27. The fest will also host a kids program featuring screenings as well as a "Kids Critics" program. The jury of young critics will pick their choices of the festival's best with a discussion moderated by 15 year-old critic, Billy Norris of the Xpress segment of The St. Petersburg Times.
Jordan Melamed's drama "Manic" (IFC Films) starring Don Cheadleand Joseph Gordon-Levitt about an angry boy committed to a psychiatric ward will take part in the festival's program for community outreach to prevent and treat alcohol/drug additions followed by a panel discussion. On January 27, Academy Award winner Olympia Dukakis will attend the event's "Celebrity Symposium," a discussion on the actress' career and the art and technique of acting. British director Kristian Levring's "The Intended" will screen prior to the conversation.
Tuesday, January 28 will be the festival's "Salute to the Independents" highlighting acclaimed U.S. independent filmmakers with screenings taking place throughout the event in various categories. Among the films scheduled is Tanya Wexler's emotional drama "Ball in the House" starring Jonathan Tucker, Jennifer Tilly, and David Strathairn. Also screening is Stephen Woloszczuk's adventure "Blind Spot," as well as Peter Callahan's "Last Ball," and Lawrence Blume's Lake Placid fav "Martin & Orloff." Films from Israel, Mexico, Iran, the U.K., India, Denmark, France, and Cuba will be shown in the World Cinema section. Director Deepa Mehta who will attend the screening of his film, "Bollywood/Hollywood." Also sure to be a highlight (and Florida appropriate) is Estela Bravo's profile of Cuban leader Fidel Castro, "Fidel."
Sarasota's Ritz-Carlton will be the setting for the festival's black-tie "Tribute Dinner" in honor of Richard Dreyfuss, the recipient of this year's Regal Entertainment Career Achievement prize. Earlier that afternoon, Dreyfuss will introduce the special screening of "Mr. Holland's Opus."