SARASOTA: Some local features will be missing from marquee
The lineup for the 15th annual Sarasota Film Festival unveiled
Wednesday showcases a wide slate of award-winning feature films and
But there is also a dash of intrigue: Three feature films made
locally, including "Blind Pass," starring Booker High School
graduate Danielle White, will not be on the marquee. Two were
rejected and no application was submitted on the other because the
director said a neighboring film festival values local films more.
All three films will instead be shown at the Gasparilla
International Film Festival in Tampa later this month.
Sarasota Film Festival director Tom Hall defended the selection
process, saying it reflects the festival's goal of attracting top
films from around the world that have yet to be widely released. The
festival includes 222 feature-length films and shorts.
"The lineup is really diverse; we're trying to bring the best
films to the community," Hall said. "We started work back in
September and I think we've done a very good job of finding and
securing films the audience will respond to that are state-of-the-
art but also speak to different aspects of our community. I'm
excited to see these films connect with audience."
It is hard to dispute the quality of this year's lineup.
The festival, April 5-14, will showcase narrative and documentary
films that have taken honors at the prestigious Venice, Sundance and
Toronto film festivals. The selections announced also include
numerous short film programs, including a collection of eight local
titles dubbed "SRQ Shorts."
Opening the festival will be the killer whale documentary
"Blackfish" that was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance.
It will be screened at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall. The
closing night film, Oscar-nominated filmmaker Noah Baumbach's comedy
"Frances Ha," will be shown at the Sarasota Opera House. The
festival's 2013 Terry Porter Visionary Award will go to Andrew
Bujalski's "Computer Chess," which won a prize as the best feature
to focus on science or technology at Sundance.
While the festival will surely impress cinephiles eagerly
awaiting the latest by acclaimed indie and international directors
like Bujalski, Olivier Assayas and Xavier Dolan, moviegoers who
enjoy seeing their hometown on the big screen might be disappointed.
"Blind Pass," the most high-profile local film completed in the
past year, which features an appearance by multiple Golden Globe
nominee Armand Assante, received a rejection letter.
The rejection came even though filmmaker Steve Tatone's previous
homegrown dramatic musical, "Beautiful Noise," sold out six showings
at the 2011 Sarasota Film Festival. But "Blind Pass," filmed in
Sarasota and Ireland, did not make the cut.
"Blind Pass" will be screened later this month, however, at the
seventh annual Gasparilla International Film Festival in Tampa,
along with several other Sarasota-made features and shorts.
"Danielle (White) and I are disappointed our film didn't make the
cut to our hometown film fest; yet thankful that all our Suncoast
fans can drive to Gasparilla on March 22 (in Tampa), or Fort Myers
Beach Film Festival on April 25- 28, to catch 'Blind Pass,'" Tatone
said. "We're also looking into ways to screen the film for charity
here in town in April. …