The 2014 Sarasota Film Festival Begins Tomorrow

SFF 2014 - 3

I’ve just returned from picking up my press credentials and screening passes for the 16th Annual Sarasota Film Festival April 4th – 13th, 2014. The tagline for this year’s festival is One Festival – Infinite Possibilities. Let’s have a look at a few of the films I will be covering:

Opening Night, April 4th at the Van Wezel Performing Arts HallLast Days in Vietnam

A documentary directed by Rory Kennedy, the daughter of Robert and Ethel Kennedy. As the final weeks of the Vietnam War were winding down chaotically, the North Vietnamese Army was closing in on Saigon, and the U.S. government remained in Congressional gridlock.

With the clock ticking and the city under fire, American soldiers and diplomats on the ground, were facing a moral quandary: whether to obey White House orders to evacuate U.S. citizens only–or to risk treason and save the lives of as many South Vietnamese citizens as they can. LAST DAYS IN VIETNAM is an unforgettable story of heroism and compromise in the face of impossible odds, a film that is at once profoundly moving and an indispensable chronicle of the end of the Vietnam War. 

Rory Kennedy was only seven years old at the time the events happened.

Saturday April 5th – Dom Hemingway

Dom Hemingway stars Jude Law as a crook who kept his mouth shut while doing 12 years in a British jail. Now he wants to collect his cut.

Is the new version of Alfie, a role made famous by Michael Caine nearly 50 years ago (1966). Or is it more like Law as a loud mouthed hooligan?

Monday April 7th – Coherence

On the night of an astrological anomaly, eight friends at a dinner party experience a troubling chain of reality bending events.

Part cerebral sci-fi and part relationship drama, Coherence is a tightly focused, intimately shot film that quickly ratchets up with tension and mystery. Might we have a new version of The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoise? Or Close Encounters of the Third Kind – or something else? Check out the trailer:

Tuesday April 8th – Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter

A lonely Japanese woman becomes convinced that a satchel of money buried and lost in a fictional film (Fargo), is in fact, real. With a crudely drawn treasure map and limited preparation, she escapes her structured life in Tokyo and embarks on a foolhardy quest across the frozen tundra of Minnesota in search of her mythical fortune.

The film stars Rinko Kikuchi who has appeared in Pacific Rim, The Brothers Bloom, 47 Ronin, and Norwegian Wood.

Wednesday April 9th – Words and Pictures

An art instructor and an English teacher form a rivalry that ends up with a competition at their school in which students decide whether words or pictures are more important. A witty romance-com edy with Clive Owen as the English teacher and Juliette Binoche as the art instructor. Let the battle begin… but check out the trailer first:

Thursday – April 10th – Wild Canaries

A Brooklyn couple suspects foul play when their rent controlled neighbor suddenly drops dead. A screwball murder mystery starring a real life married couple – Sophia Takal and Lawrence Levine. Check out the trailer at

Friday April 11th – God’s Pocket

A guy named Mickey gets in over his head when he tries to cover-up the accidental death of his stepson. Starring Philip Seymour Hoffman and Christina Hendricks with supporting roles by John Turturro (Transformers & The Good Shepherd), Richard Jenkins (Jack Reacher & Eat Pray Love). Eddie Marsan (Ray Donovan & Sherlock Holmes films), and Peter Gerety (The Wire & Homicide: Life on the Street).

Recently, this film screened at Sundance. This is Mad Men’s John Slattery’s debut as a film director.

Saturday April 12th – The Heart Machine

A man begins to suspect that his long-distance girlfriend whom he met on the Internet has been living in the same city as him, and he sets out looking for her.

The film stars Kate Lynn Sheil and John Gallagher Jr (the Newsroom) and was written and directed by Zachary Wigon. Check out the trailer on Vimeo:

Saturday April 12th at the Sarasota Opera HouseThe One I Love

Ethan and Sophie are a married couple on the brink of separation. At the urging of their therapist, they escape to a beautiful vacation house for a weekend getaway in an attempt to salvage what’s left of their relationship. What starts off as a relaxing and tranquil retreat soon spirals into a dizzying bizarre experience that forces the couple to reflect upon the complexities of their troubled partnership. The film stars Elisabeth Moss ( Mad Men  and  Top of the Lake) and Mark Duplass (Zero Dark Thirty, Your Sister’s Sister, & The Mindy Project). Check out this clip from the film:

I’m looking forward to this year’s SFF, and will be covering the Festival for the 4th time. Over 180 films, shorts, and documentaries will be screened and as they say – so many films, so little time. If you are in the area, and will be attending, please enjoy yourselves. The website for the Sarasota Film Festival is —-> here.