The Sarasota Film Festival offers creative, engaging films for all ages

The Sarasota Film Festival celebrated its 14th year featuring films and special events in the Sarasota community for film lovers of all ages.

Devon Tallman, Photo Editor

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In its 14th year showcasing films from around the world, the Sarasota Film Festival brought some of the world’s best filmmakers to the big screen. Since 1999, this festival has honored actors and actresses, such as Chevy Chase, Billy Crystal, Woody Harrelson, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Christopher Plummer and Brooke Shields, to name a few. Today, it is hailed as one of the top film festivals in the country, combining the ingenious work of filmmakers with exciting programs and events catered towards the interests of the community. This year’s festival proved nothing short of successful.

After reading about the Sarasota Film Festival right here in the local community, I decided to take in a film for myself. The movie I saw was In Our Nature, starring John Slattery (Mad Men), Gabrielle Union, Zach Gilford and Jena Malone.

The film is about the broken relationship between a father and a son and the one weekend at their cabin that they have to repair their relationship.

At first glance it may seem that the film would be rather sorrow-filled or dramatic, but underneath all of the tension in the film, there was a realistic sense of humor that no one in the theater was expecting. There was also a real beauty about the film’s setting, adding a peaceful and serene energy, despite all of the conflict that occurred throughout the film.

Overall, I felt the film was well-written and the actors portrayed realistic, life-like characters.

What I found most impressive was the film’s director and lead actress stayed for a brief Q&A session with the audience after the film. Hands shot up throughout the theater with an eagerness to ask the director and actress specific questions. Through this session, I learned that the film just witnessed was the director’s first, and that was an accomplishment in its own. It was this type of relationship between director and audience that showcases the festival’s emphasis on educating and inspiring film lovers.

Over the years, the Sarasota Film Festival has made it a point to engage filmgoers of all ages and has made a special effort to develop a comprehensive program targeted towards young people. Not only do they accept films in the festival from young, aspiring filmmakers, but they have developed scholarship programs and Red Carpet Events and particularly try to engage the local community youth.

This year, Saint Stephen’s Episcopal School’s 7th grade English classes had the opportunity to view and critique several short films from the film festival. Out of 568 film reviews submitted to the Sarasota Film Festival by local students of the area, Saint Stephen’s seventh grader Julia Woodson had her review chosen as one of the four best reviews submitted. Her film review was published in both the Sarasota Observer and the Sarasota Film Festival’s blog.

To read Woodson’s review, go to (

It is truly remarkable how within a mere 14 years, the Sarasota Film Festival has expanded immensely, offering hundreds of films in numerous languages directed by a wide range of rookie and experienced directors. It is not uncommon to see stars from Hollywood showing up for the numerous events held during the ten-day festival or run into the director of the movie you just witnessed. It is these types of experiences that attract not only locals but people from around the country as well.

Perhaps the very reason behind the Sarasota Film Festival’s popularity is its ideal location in a community that is artistically rich and culturally attractive to so many. With engaging programs, films that cater to all ages and people who are genuinely passionate about the art of filmmaking, it is no surprise that people keep coming back year after year to this beautiful locale to view these films.



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The Upper School news site of Saint Stephen's Episcopal School
The Sarasota Film Festival offers creative, engaging films for all ages