Sarasota Film Festival 2008: Monday - Wednesday

By tully | "Boredom at Its Boredest" by Michael Tully April 10, 2008 at 7:17AM

Sarasota Film Festival 2008: Monday - Wednesday

The past few days in Sarasota have felt like a bridge between the madness of the opening and closing weekends, yet we’ve still been getting only a few hours of sleep each night. Poor Holly and Tom. They’re pretty much stuck in the theatre all day long, scurrying between intros and Q&As. I have a hunch they’re both going to sleep in like cadavers on Monday, when they finally have a day off. As will pretty much everybody on the staff.

Yesterday, a new wave of filmmakers arrived, and it seems like just about everybody will be here by tonight. Suffice to say, an old person such as myself needs to suck it up and try to act like I’m in my twenties again. Two gin-and-Monsters helped to awaken me last night when I finally got to the World Cinema Celebration, but I still felt completely exhausted. Anyway, enough about me being old and boring, let’s get to some photographic memories from the past few days.


It’s fitting that my last post ended with a non-festival related image from the restaurant where I watched the Final Four, for this post begins with a shot of that very same bar.


Being the nerd that I am, I arrived at Five One Six Burns and proceeded to ignore everyone in order to watch the game. Midway through, good buddy Gabriel Goodenough (yes, it’s pronounced Good-uh-NUFF--aka, The Best Name Ever) joined me to watch the battle unfold. Gabe directed the great short Zebra Kids, which follows a group of inner city Baltimore boys who take an African Drum class in order to broaden their horizons. It’s exceptional.

Speaking of exceptional, the game was everything that I hoped it would be. For some reason, when Memphis was ahead, it felt wrong to me, and not just because I’d picked Kansas to win it all in my bracket (even with that pick, I still lost the pool). So when they made their miraculous comeback, I felt an even greater thrill.

Midway through overtime, tragedy ***almost*** struck. Tom asked me if I knew where Holly was. I said she was probably doing the last Q&A. He said that the filmmakers from that Q&A had arrived a few minutes ago. We both thought this was strange. At this point, I should note that Holly left me a voicemail about thirty minutes prior, but my reception is spotty in the bar so it was pretty much a case of hearing what I wanted to hear. It went like this… “Hi, I’m sticking around to do the last Q&A… (her voice dropped out for several seconds)… I’ll head that way when I’m done.” Which I took to mean that she was heading directly over after the Q&A, not realizing that she could have said something else during that dropout. Okay, so back to the moment. Tom and I both called her, and her phone rang and rang and rang. It didn’t go directly to voice mail, and the fact that the movies were done made it seem strange that she wouldn’t pick up. Here’s where it gets interesting:

Not to be a selfish male prick--okay, selfish male prick acknowledged--I told him not to worry and turned my attention back to the game (still calling Holly all the while, of course, but never getting an answer). A moment or two later, Tom came back to me and said that someone said she’d seen Holly’s “dark silhouette in the back of a van,” at which point my heart started pounding.



HOLLY (25) is coerced into a shady Scooby-Doo style van by TWO MENACING THUGS.


HARD CUT Back to Restaurant.

Obviously, there was no logic in this set-up, but at the time, that’s all I saw. Looking into Tom’s eyes, I knew that our interpretations of the scene were pretty damn similar. Tom pulled out his keys and said he was going to look for her. I looked at the TV, figured the game was handled, and chose rescuing Holly over one of the most exciting National Championships in many, many years. If that isn’t love, I don’t know what is (I’m just kidding… I think).

Back to the drama. Tom skidded into the parking lot and I dove into the car like we were auditioning for CSI: Sarasota. Frantically, we sped towards the theatre, as ridiculously dramatic scenarios unfolded in our terrified minds. And then, about halfway there, it hit me. I forget what it was exactly, but I think Tom went into more specific detail about the van Holly was in, and then I knew and breathed easily. Holly was with her friend Erika and her boyfriend Andy, who had arrived in town in a super-cool van that they were living out of. The initial description of the van situation spun me into some old TV movie like The Atlanta Child Murders, and I completely forgot about the innocent reality of the situation. If I had heard the entire voicemail--for that dropout was Holly saying “I’m going to meet up with Erika for a bit then head over”--I would have known and everything would’ve been fine. And if I didn’t watch so many stupid movies, my brain wouldn’t have created such a preposterously horrific scenario. That situation handled, we headed back to the bar.


Here, Holly chats with filmmaker Amy Seimetz and journalist Noralil Ryan Fores, telling him that her worried friends are paranoid weirdos.

I picked up Holly’s mom from the airport Tuesday morning and did some more movie watching (more on that later--movies schmovies) before the day’s main event.


At seven o’clock, many of us got to experience something very, very special (that’s cinematographer Adam Pinney on the left and actor/filmmaker Mike Brune on the right--they’re here with the remarkably assured short The Adventure). Sony Pictures Classics’ Michael Barker did a tremendous job as a first-time moderator in his conversation with Liv Ullmann, who was gracious, humble, humorous, and refreshingly sincere. I felt like a proud parent. Tom had conceived of this tribute to Ms. Ullmann for years and to be experiencing it was a real thrill. Congratulations, Tom!

After that, it was back to the theatre to meet up with more people.


Here are Laura Terruso (The Last Butcher in Little Italy), Madaleine Olneik (Make Room For Phyllis), and programming intern Jessica Bardsley. Laura and Madaleine left yesterday. That sucks. We miss you guys, already!


After an impromptu trip to a rooftop bar, which closed at midnight--in keeping with just about every establishment in this sleepy town--we ended up at one of the downtown’s only open-until-2 spots, the Sports Page. When people started going their separate ways, a small crew of us went back to Karina’s room to continue my new favorite game of coming up with the most outlandish Applebee’s style “killer apps!” (aka, Chicken Bombers!, Cheese Blasters!, Clam Slammmerzzz!, Lobsterdillas!). This is probably funnier if I explain it to you in person. Or maybe not. But it’s certainly given me a reason to live over the past month.


Chris Brune (left), Adam, and James Johnston (Merrily, Merrily) continue to ponder new “killer apps.”


Holly and writer Keith Uhlich (The House Next Door).


Mike is pondering the hard, sad fact that his debut short film The Adventure is more impressive than anything I’ll ever make in my life. That’s when I decided I should go to bed.


Let’s get back to Holly. She told me that if I kept taking pictures of her and posting them on my site she is going to dump me faster than I can scream, “Nooooooo!” Though she didn’t seem to be kidding around (her words went something like, “While you are certainly the most publicly appreciative boyfriend ever, if you don’t stop embarrassing me like this I’m kicking you out of my house”), I simply can’t help it.


She’s even lovely from way back over here! Okay, I’ll stop now. Sorry.

I only managed to catch one movie yesterday, Nick Broomfield’s Battle For Haditha, which I thought was pretty stellar. I’m hoping to write a compare/contrast between Broomfield’s powerful work and Brian De Palma’s putrid, shameful, and sinful Redacted. The lead performance by non-actor and actual soldier Elliot Ruiz is one of the most incredible I’ve seen this year. I hope he continues to pursue acting, because he has an extraordinary gift.

When I got out of Battle For Haditha, I thought I had landed in Europe when I saw these two characters hanging out at the concession stand…


Turns out it was just Gi Gi and publicist Gary Springer getting ready for the World Cinema Celebration.


I got to the party late and didn’t eat nearly as much food as last year. Instead, I grabbed a few gin-and-Monsters to wake up and celebrated the glorious concept that is underage drinking in a public place with Jessica.


Why is Gary happy and yet Tobey, Claire Michaelson, Holly, and Brian are so terribly sad?


That’s because Gary was about to start haunting the party like a spooky, dead Scotsman.


Which leads us to Brian Reiss. I received thousands of emails suggesting that the picture I posted of Brian’s red carpet wave to me on opening night seemed a little fey, and these readers were outright questioning the man’s masculinity. Well, folks, all I can say is that was a fluke moment, because most of the time he looks like this when he gets around a pretty lady. Here's another one, just in case...


After the street party shut down, we all headed across the street for an upstairs rendezvous at The Gator Lounge (or whatever it's called).


Karina and Holly welcome Mr. Matt Dentler, who arrived at the party with his luggage in check. Hot damn!


Here Keith, Tom, and Jason Guerrasio (Variety, Filmmaker) discuss… well, I don’t know what they were discussing, but if my left thumb were on the line, I’d have to say they were talking about… hmm, let’s see… um… maybe movies???


This year, Mark Rabinowitz is here on a new mission, in addition to the Rabbi Report. He is fielding 3-minute documentary pitches for the newly formed company Cinelan.

That about does it for Monday through Wednesday. More people are arriving today, at which point things will get crazier. I totally forgot to take a picture of David Redmon and Ashley Sabin, damn it. Their Intimidad is one of my favorite films of 2008. If it doesn’t make the top ten, it will certainly be in the top twenty. See this movie if you get the chance. It is a beautiful, tender love story, and it features, without a doubt. The Cutest Baby In The History of Cinema. Watch it and tell me I'm wrong.

Stay tuned for more madness as the festival unfolds!

This article is related to: Film in General