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“Messenger” and “Step” Bookend Upcoming 11th Sarasota Film Festival

"Messenger" and "Step" Bookend Upcoming 11th Sarasota Film Festival

Oren Moverman’s “The Messenger,” starring Ben Foster, Woody Harrelson, Samantha Morton and Jena Malone will open the 2009 Sarasota Film Festival, taking place in the Florida Gulf Coast town March 27 – April 5. Winner of the Silver Bear for screenwriting at the recent Berlinale, the film is described as a “timeless story of military brotherhood and service and examines universal themes of hope, redemption and the resilience of the human spirit.” Over 160 narrative, documentary and short films are set to screen in SFF’s 11th edition including two retropsective presentations entitled, “Being Hal Ashby: Mind of A Hollywood Rebel” and “Environmental Spaces: Christo and Jeanne-Claude on Film.”

Among this year’s line up are eight films screening in the narrative competition, including “Adela” by Adolfo Alix Jr., “Children of Invention” by Tze Chun, “Francaise” by Souad El-Bouhati, “The Maid” by Sebastian Silva, “The Man Who Loved Yngve” by Stian Kristiansen, “Nurse.Fighter.Boy” by Charles Officer, “Prince Of Broadway” by Sean Baker and “You Won’t Miss Me” by Ry Russo-Young.

Competing for the 2009 documentary prize are: 21 “Below” by Samantha Buck, “Blood Trail” by Richard Parry, “Brock Enright: Good Times Will Never Be The Same” by Jody Lee Lipes, “Letters To The President” by Petr Lom, “Loot” by Darius Marder, “Old Partner” by Chung-Ryoul Lee, “Over The Hills And Far Away” by Michel O. Scott and “Winnebago Man” by Ben Steinbauer.

The late director Hal Ashby will receive this year’s Filmmaker Tribute at the Sarasota Opera House. The festival will be creating a tribute film in Mr. Ashby’s honor, and an on-stage conversation about his life and work will follow. Among those expected in to honor Ashby are David Carradine, Illeana Douglas, Norman Jewison, Jon Voight and the director’s daughter, Leigh MacManus.

Issues and activism relating to the environment will also receive an SFF spotlight this year in a program called “Green Cinema Now!” Six features including “Food Inc.,” “Upstream Battle,” “Burning The Future,” “Crude,” “Taking Root: The Vision Of Wangari Maathai” and “The End Of The Line” will screen in the section, while ten short films will be available during the festival on their website beginning March 25. In conjunction with the Green Cinema Now! Program, filmmaking activist Steve Michelson and filmmaker David Novack (“Burning The Future”) will moderate a panel on how to “create and build long-term campaigns and calls to action around environmental filmmaking.” The panel is free and open to the public.

Adam Del Deo and James D. Stern’s “Every Little Step” will close Sarasota. The film is the story of the smash hit musical “A Chorus Line,” from its humble beginnings in Michael Bennett’s workshop to the new Broadway production of the show, featuring young dancers and actors following their own dreams of landing a role on The Great White Way.

“We look forward to sharing our festival program with the terrific Sarasota audience,” commented director of programming Tom Hall in a statement. “We hope that members of the community will join us to celebrate these films and the artists who created them. This year’s program features a broad spectrum of ideas, issues and stories and we’re excited for audiences to discover them during this year’s festival.”

[For more information including a full line up with descriptions, visit the Sarasota Film Festival’s website.]

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