By Thursday, almost everybody had arrived in town and there was some seriously major buzzing in the air. What made this year feel even more buzzily positive was the fact that so many films arrived with full-on entourages, as opposed to just a director and/or producer for each film. I think this is because there were so many first-time filmmakers screening and everybody wanted to bask in the glory of having completed a project and been chosen to screen at such a prestigious, fun festival like Sarasota. Whatever the reason, the collection of happy, smiling faces was overwhelming and inspiring. And now, let us continue with my photo blog recap from the 2008 Sarasota Film Festival, at which point I can go back into retirement and hopefully never post one of these nerdy updates again (or until someone pays me to do just that).
It was a real thrill to sit beside Linas Phillips for the world premiere of his powerful, sobering documentary Great Speeches From a Dying World. Much like his excellent debut feature, Walking to Werner, Great Speeches finds the inquisitive, warmhearted Phillips encountering individuals less fortunate than himself, yet there is a humanity to his filmmaking that retains a strange sense of optimism even at the most brutal and unflinching moments. In Great Speeches From a Dying World, he follows around several homeless people in Seattle who are struggling against seemingly insurmountable odds to better themselves. If the audience responses in Sarasota were any indication, Phillips has a powerful hit on his hands. Great Speeches isn’t just a film about homeless people. It’s about struggle and loss and depression and addiction, and how difficult it is to rise above the oppressive forces that surround us every single day.
Speaking of positive reactions, here is SFF staffer Noah, who provided me with the thrill of a lifetime when he told me how profoundly affected he was by Silver Jew when he saw it last year. I don’t want to call him out or embarrass him, but I will say, for the record, that his admission to me was one of the most humbling and greatest feelings I’ve known as a filmmaker, especially since I tend to forget that I even made that movie.
Poor Holly and Tom. On their feet all day introing and Q&Aing movies in the cavernous back hallway of the Hollywood 20, barely getting a chance to sit down, let alone eat. By the time Holly finally got to leave for the day, the Thursday night party was already winding down. At that point, we had no other option but to head over to Applebee’s for some Killer Apps! As you can see from this picture, the apps weren't that killer. They were straight-up gross.
Which leads us back to Cabana. Seriously, towards the end of the week I started wondering if we were there for the Sarasota Film Festival or if the indie film world had instead flown into town for the inaugural Sarasota Karaoke Festival. Here, Matt Dentler rocks the house. I guess now is a good time to address yesterday’s earthquake of a press release. I learned of the news last Wednesday, and had to fight to keep my mouth shut. But this sounds like a great turn of events for all. Matt Dentler is moving to the Big Apple. Bring it on!
I like to call this picture “Barryoke.” The awesomer-than-awesome Barry Jenkins (writer/director, Medicine for Melancholy) delivered a ferocious version of “I Saw Her Standing There” that knocked off everyone’s mop-tops.
Mike Brune (The Adventure) delivered some uptempo musical magic.
Outside in the VIP lounge, Todd Rohal (get ready for the amazing Benten Films DVD release of The Guatemalan Handshake, it's so yummy!), Holly, and a blurry Alex Karpovsky (Woodpecker) prepare for the exciting weekend that awaits them.
Festival juror/blogger/filmmaker/etceteraer AJ Schnack shows everyone how Los Angeles gets the job done.
Fighting off the lost voice that threatened to silence her, Holly wows the crowd once again.
Film Festival Bob delivers a better Bill Joel than Bill Joel himself.
Who knew Josh Braun was a crooner?
Congratulations to Ray and Pete, who are officially engaged. If this dance floor synergy is a sign of things to come, I’d say it's gonna be a long, happy life.
Kim, Brian, and Mae Mae turn the dance floor from warm to sizzling hot.
Dentler and Tom Hall get stupid fresh.
I love watching people discover just how dope an MC Tom actually is. His Nelly is a guaranteed party jam, but it’s when he unleashes Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” that his true Detroit blood shines. Homeboy has serious skills.
Jen Blum dances to Mae Mae’s soulful grooving.
Karaoke Steve, Ethnee Lea, and Jen Blum show the room that publicists are funky singers too.
Ethnee wasn’t too pleased with her red carpet photo I posted on opening night, so I thought I’d snap one in order to let the world know just how sultry she can be.
Here, fellow jurors Alison Willmore and Mr. Dentler discuss tomorrow’s screenings and just how much beach time they’ll be able to get.
Then we all went to bed…
(Stay tuned for posts recapping Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.)