When April rolls around, Sarasota gears up for their annual film festival, a ten-day event that brings in tourists and celebrities from all over the world. As Siesta Key is only a 16-minute drive from the heart of Sarasota, it’s the best place to stay during this iconic and popular annual festival. Siesta Key is home to breathtaking stretches of white sand beaches and clear aquamarine waters, as well as a host of ocean wildlife.
About The Annual Sarasota Film Festival
2018 marks the 20th anniversary of Florida’s favorite film festival that has been delighting audiences since its inception. Every year more than 200 films are screened, ranging from shorts to full-length features and everything in between! There are even documentaries and kid-friendly films as well. This famous film festival has won some very prestigious awards, like MovieMaker Magazine’s 2016 “Top 25 Coolest Film Festivals in the World” and Paste Magazine’s 2015 “Film Festivals Worth The Entry Fee” award. It’s stated mission is “To celebrate the art of filmmaking and the contribution of filmmakers by hosting an international film festival and developing year-long programs for the economic, educational and cultural benefit of our community.”
Running from annually from late March to early April and ranging over two weekends, the festival gives visitors a chance to rub elbows with celebrities and experience cinema at its best. It’s very well attended, with over 50,000 film-lovers streaming in from all parts of the state. With the 20th anniversary rolling around this year, expect a huge turn-out, some top stars, and films that will dazzle, inspire and entertain you. It’s certain that they will pull out all the stops!
Cinema At Its Best, Accessible To Everyone
The film festival’s Advisory Board of Directors is full of some of the most recognizable and celebrate stars, like William H. Macy, Steve Buscemi, and Geena Davis and the opening night cocktail party that could rival any Hollywood soiree. Even so, the pricing is very reasonable with VIP tickets capping out at $150 per person. Regular tickets are $100 for non-members and $80 for members.
Regular screening tickets are only $15 for general admission, $11 for members and a mere $10 for students, teachers, and people who work in universities. Matinees are even less expensive, maxing out at $11 per ticket. Opening and closing night screenings, where cocktail attire is encouraged, are less than $100 per ticket and Youthfest films are free for children under 12.
Film festival members enjoy even greater discounts and perks, including discounted merchandise and even invitation-only screenings. Membership is a tax write-off and a good way to show support for the festival and its film artistry.
An Inclusive Variety Of Films
The Sarasota Film Festival screens films from many different genres, including stories of personal triumph and vulnerability like “Take Every Wave: The Life Of Laird Hamilton” and films focusing on the specific challenges and concerns of all kinds of peoples and communities.
Every year, the festival has a slightly different theme and focus. For the 20th year anniversary, the film festival is striving to promote the voices of minorities and marginalized groups through its panel talks on African American representation and LGBTQ representation in film and the yearly “Through Women’s Eyes International Film Festival”, a companion festival that highlights and celebrates films written, created and directed by women. This focus on making minority voices heard is part of what makes Sarasota’s film festival so popular and enduring. It strives to be representative of everyone and inclusive with its ticket prices.
You can enjoy many different genres including:
- Documentary Films
- Short Films
- Feature Films
- Minority/Women Directed Films
- Children’s Films
Workshops and Programs
The film festival’s “SFF Education” department aims to get schoolchildren interested and engaged in film and the art of moviemaking, as well as be able to critically analyze how different people are portrayed. Programs like “See Jane Studio” endeavor to get children thinking about gender roles in media and popular culture. “Junior Jury” gets kids directly involved in judging films by letting them judge that year’s youth film. This hands-on experience gives children an opportunity to see how the movie industry works and put in their valuable two cents!
“Woke” focuses on college campuses and the issues that modern universities face. The program involves screening a film pertinent to the issues of the day and then engaging students in conversation about the issues the film addressed. The objective is to get college kids thinking and acting on social issues.
YouthFest is an ancillary film festival that is specifically for families and children and screens movies made by people who are under 18-years-old. Hollywood Nights is a red-carpet ceremony dedicated specifically to YouthFest, where teenage filmmakers are able to get a taste of the red carpet.
Growing annually in popularity, the film festival promises to be even more entertaining, comprehensive and inclusive of all for its 20th anniversary and beyond.
If you think you might like to stay in Sarasota or nearby Siesta Key during April, a 4-week vacation on the beach might be a great way to move your film festival engagement to the next level. So pack your bags and get ready for Lights, Camera, Action…!