2012 Sarasota Film Festival

The 2012 Sarasota Film Festival opens tonight and I’m going. This is the 14th year of the festival and the there will be everything from Feature Films to Documentaries, Shorts, and even some kid-friendly film opportunities. The total of events and screenings will be more than 260.

While most of the festival content will be screened at the Regal Hollywood Stadium 20 (despite the high-falutin’ name – it’s really just a huge movie cineplex) on Main Street in downtown Sarasota, tonight’s Festival Opener will be screened at the beautiful, state-of-the-art, bay-front facility – The Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall.

This post is just the lead story from me so you can get a glimpse of what films I’ll be covering.

The Opening Night Feature will be Robot & Frank. [Quoting from the festival’s own film guide –>] Set in the near future, ROBOT & FRANK is the story of Frank (Frank Langella), a retired thief living alone and resigned to longing for the local librarian (Susan Sarandon). Concerned about his father’s health, Frank’s son brings him a new caretaker; a state of the art robot with a perfect memory and an inexhaustible desire to make Frank’s life better. Initially reluctant to accept help, Frank soon recognizes the benefits of his robot, treating his electronic helper like a true friend. So, when Frank decides to get back in business, who else to turn to but his newfound companion?ROBOT & FRANK is a Samuel Goldwyn Films and Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions release. Director Jake Schrier and star Frank Langella will be in attendance. A small clip from the film is below


On Sunday, April 15th, I will take in the French Film, The Big Picture. [Again, quoting from the festival’s own film guide] Paul Exben (Romain Duris, THE BEAT THAT MY HEART SKIPPED) is a successful lawyer who has it all; a beautiful wife and family, handsome good looks and an enviable position at one of Paris’ top law firms. But when Paul uncovers his wife’s secret transgressions, it sets into motion a series of tragic events that will change their lives forever. Driven by Duris’ haunted performance as Paul, Eric Lartigau’s THE BIG PICTURE is a taut thriller of life on the run from the law, changes of identity and paying the consequences for a fatal mistake.

On Tuesday, April 17th, the festival will screen Peace, Love & Misunderstanding.  From the festival guide: Diane (Catherine Keener), a conservative New York City lawyer, needs a few days to collect her thoughts before signing her divorce papers, so she takes her two kids Zoe (Elizabeth Olsen) and Jake (Nat Wolff) to visit her mother Grace (Jane Fonda) at her home in Woodstock, NY. Diane and Grace have not spoken in 20 years, an estrangement apparently stemming from an incident at Diane’s wedding. Director Bruce Beresford follows these two women as they are trying to heal their relationship. The healing process takes Diane and her kids in a new direction where they experience a new passion for living.

Catherine Keener, Elizabeth Olsen & Jane Fonda - Peace, Love, & Misunderstanding

On Wednesday, April 18th I’ll see Darling Companion. From the festival guide: Beth (Diane Keaton) and Joseph Winter (Kevin Kline) are a long-married couple living comfortably in the Denver suburbs. Joseph, a successful, busy surgeon, is regarded by his wife as pompous and self-involved, while Beth, an empty-nester, is considered high-strung and overly-emotional by her husband. One day, Beth takes in an abandoned dog named Freeway over Joseph’s objections and her love for the new pet puts a wrinkle in their carefully structured lives. When the beloved canine goes missing, a shaggy-dog search adventure plays out, drawing together friends and family and rekindling a lifelong love. DARLING COMPANION marks a welcome return to the big screen for director Lawrence Kasdan (THE BIG CHILL).

Next for me will be Missed Connections to be screened on April 19th. From the festival film guide: Josh (Jon Abrams) is a cocksure techie working in a corporate I.T. department when he meets Lucy (Mickey Sumner), an up and coming executive looking for Mr Right. When Lucy encounters a handsome stranger outside of the office, she decides to place an ad in an online Missed Connections site in the hopes of finding true love. But when Josh intercepts the message and, with the help of his friends, undertakes a plot to steer Lucy into his own arms, things get complicated in a hurry. MISSED CONNECTIONS is lighthearted fun, a truly independent comedy for the age of online romance.


The last film I will be covering is called In Our Nature, and it screens on Friday April 20th.  From the festival film guide: A young man (Zach Gilford) and his girlfriend (Jena Malone) head to his family’s beautiful vacation home for a romantic get-away from their lives in the city. But when his father (MAD MEN’S John Slattery) shows up unannounced with his beautiful young girlfriend (Gabrielle Union), the two couples must negotiate a peaceful co-existence despite their pronounced differences. But as they spend time together, tensions rise and fall as personal revelations bring the film to a sublime conclusion. Brian Savelson’s IN OUR NATURE is a bittersweet comedy about family and love set against the gorgeous backdrop of a family’s sylvan retreat. Trailer at the link below.


With my Press Badge dangling from a lanyard around my neck, I’ll start at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall

and I’ll end at the Regal Hollywood 20. Due to a prior commitment I’ll won’t be there for the Closing Night Ceremonies. But what you’ve read above is my itinerary. Six Films in 10 days, and no doubleheaders. It’s just a short drive to the venues, and I’m looking forward to watching these films.  Check out the the full reviews over the next 10 days.


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