Want to Catch Up on This Year’s Sundance Titles? The Sarasota Film Festival Has You Covered

15 March 2023

It’s the hardest thing to wait to see them after hearing about the movies that debuted at Sundance. But if you live in the Southeast, there’s no better way to cut that wait short than a trip to the Sarasota Film Festival, running this year from March 24 to April 2. Want to see the moving doc “A Still Small Voice”? Or the near-future pregnancy satire “The Pod Generation” with Emilia Clarke and Chiwetel Ejiofor? Not to mention the Alexandria Bombach Indigo Girls documentary “It’s Only Life After All,” “Aum: The Cult at the End of the World,” “Judy Blume Forever,” and “Fairyland”? This festival’s got you covered.

Some titles not yet available to the public from the fall festivals will screen as well, such as Paul Schrader’s “Master Gardener,” Daniel Goldhaber’s NEON title “How to Blow up a Pipeline,” and Kelly Reichardt’s “Showing Up,” as well as DOC NYC titles “Gumbo Coalition,” from documentary legend Barbara Kopple, and “The Conspiracy,” about the startling rise and pervasiveness of antisemitism today. “Being Mary Tyler Moore,” which debuted at SXSW, will also screen. As will Francois Ozon’s latest, “Everything Went Fine,” from Cannes 2022.

I will be on the Narrative Jury alongside Bombach, considering the titles “Bridge to the Other Side” by KT Curran, Icelandic/Estonian film “Godland” by Hlynur Pálmason, Rebecca Zlotowski’s “Other People’s Children,” and “The Unknown Country” by Marissa Maltz.

There will be a new restoration screening of Dreyer’s “The Passion of Joan of Arc.” And “Good Trouble” documentarian Dawn Porter is turning her lens to the unique Quebec-meets-Vegas phenomenon Cirque du Soleil in the opening night title “Cirque du Soleil: Without a Net,” while Dennis Quaid-starring aviation drama “On a Wing and a Prayer” will close out the festival.

2023 Sarasota Film Festival Lineup

OPENING NIGHT FILM

CIRQUE DU SOLEIL: WITHOUT A NET

dir. Dawn Porter (USA), 2022

When the world shut down, its greatest Circus went into freefall. Within 48 hours Cirque du Soleil closed all its 44 shows; within a week it let 95% of its workforce go. Now, more than a year later, a group of world-class artists, athletes and crew at “O”, Cirque’s flagship production, face uncertainty as they prepare to bring their show back to life. With unprecedented access, this film documents their extraordinary journey as they attempt a return to stage after one of the world’s greatest crises.

*Please note the film is also screening in the Directed by Women Feature

CLOSING NIGHT FILM

ON A WING AND A PRAYER

dir. Sean McNamara (USA), 2023

In this extraordinary true story of faith and survival, On a Wing and a Prayer follows passenger Doug White’s (Dennis Quaid) harrowing journey to safely land a plane and save his entire family from insurmountable danger, after their pilot dies unexpectedly mid-flight.

DOCUMENTARY CENTERPIECE FILMS

GUMBO COALITION

dir. Barbara Kopple (USA), 2022

GUMBO COALITION takes us on an intimate – and sometimes humorous –  journey into Marc Morial, NUL, and Janet Murguia, UnidosUS, lives, homes and the family histories that motivate their mission to achieve a more just and equitable country.

*Please note this film is also screening in the African American Focus Sidebar and the Directed by Women Sidebar

BEING MARY TYLER MOORE

dir. James Adolphus (USA), 2023

With unprecedented access to Mary Tyler Moore’s vast archive, BEING MARY TYLER MOORE chronicles the screen icon whose storied career spanned sixty years. Weaving Moore’s personal narrative with the beats of her professional accomplishments, the film highlights her groundbreaking roles and the indelible impact she had on generations of women who came after her.

INVISIBLE BEAUTY

dir. Bethann Hardison & Frédéric Tcheng (USA), 2023

Fashion revolutionary and model turned agent and activist Bethann Hardison knew that Black is beautiful well before the fashion industry acknowledged the truth. From walking runway shows alongside Iman to discovering supermodels like Tyson Beckford and mentoring icons like Naomi Campbell, Hardison has been at the epicenter of major representational shifts in fashion. Catalyzing change requires continuous championing, and as the next generation takes the reins, Hardison reflects on her personal journey and the cost of being a pioneer.

*Please note this film is also screening as a Documentary Feature Competition selection, and in the African American Focus Sidebar and the Directed by Women Sidebar

 

IT’S ONLY LIFE AFTER ALL

East Coast Premiere

dir. Alexandria Bombach (USA), 2023

Blending 40 years of home movies, raw film archive, and intimate present-day verité, a poignant reflection from Amy Ray & Emily Saliers of Indigo Girls – the iconic folk rock duo. A timely look into the obstacles, activism, and life lessons of two queer friends who never expected to make it big.

*Please note this film is also screening in the Music Focus Sidebar, the Directed by Women Sidebar, and the LGBTQ Focus Sidebar

JUDY BLUME FOREVER

dir. Davina Pardo & Leah Wolchok (USA), 2023

​​Generations of readers have found themselves in a Judy Blume book. Her name alone unleashes a flood of memories for anyone who’s gripped one of her many paperbacks. For decades, Blume’s radical honesty has comforted and captivated readers — and landed her at the center of controversy for her frankness about puberty and sex. Now the beloved American author candidly shares her own coming-of-age story.

*Please note the film is also screening in the Directed by Women Sidebar

THE CONSPIRACY

dir. Maxim Pozdorovkin (USA), 2022

An animated film about the biggest lie ever told: Jews are plotting to take over the world. Behind the torch-bearing chants of “Jews will not replace us” is an age-old myth. As we follow this myth from the fringe to the mainstream, three Jewish families are made into scapegoats, their names forever linked to the notion that Jews are a monolithic group set on world domination.

*Please note this film is also screening in the Documentary Feature Competition and in the Jewish Focus Sidebar

SPOTLIGHT FEATURES

FAIRYLAND

East Coast Premiere

dir. Andrew Durham (USA), 2023

Following the sudden and tragic death of her mother,  young Alysia is uprooted by her father Steve in the hopes to restart his life. They move to 1970s San Francisco where Steve develops his poetic and personal writing and begins to openly date men. Steve’s bohemian lifestyle clashes with the expectations of parenthood from both the outside world and Alysia herself, who occasionally wishes for less of the independence her father gives her. As Alysia grows into a young woman on the cusp of adulthood, their bonds and duty to each other are tested in painful and sudden ways.

*Please note this film is also screening in the LGBTQ Focus Sidebar

HOW TO BLOW UP A PIPELINE

dir. Daniel Goldhabar (USA), 2022

A crew of young environmental activists execute a daring mission to sabotage an oil pipeline, in director Daniel Goldhaber’s taut and timely thriller that is part high-stakes heist, part radical exploration of the climate crisis. Based on the controversial book by Andreas Malm.

MASTER GARDENER

dir. Paul Schrader (USA), 2022

A meticulous horticulturist is devoted to tending the grounds of a beautiful estate owned by a wealthy dowager. When he’s told to take on her troubled great-niece as an apprentice, his life is thrown into chaos and dark secrets from his past emerge.

SHOWING UP

dir. Kelly Reichardt (USA), 2022

A sculptor preparing to open a new show must balance her creative life with the daily dramas of family and friends, in Kelly Reichardt’s vibrant and captivatingly funny portrait of art and craft.

*Please note this film is also screening in the Directed by Women Sidebar

THE POD GENERATION

dir. Sophie Barthes (USA), 2023

A New York couple, Rachel (Emilia Clarke) and Alvy (Chiwetel Ejiofor) live in a not-so-distant future where technology provides ever-more convenient living. A rising tech company executive, Rachel lands a coveted spot at the Womb Center, which offers couples a convenient (and shareable) maternity by way of detachable artificial wombs, or pods. But Alvy, a botanist with an affection for nature, prefers a natural pregnancy. And yet, as Rachel’s AI therapist puts it, why is that “natural”? So begins the tech-paved path to parenthood.

*Please note this film is also screening in the Directed by Women Sidebar

 

NARRATIVE FEATURE COMPETITION

BRIDGE TO THE OTHER SIDE

dir. KT Curran (USA), 2022

In a world that’s falling apart, a widow struggling with her own grief and self-destruction, fights to save young people struggling with a mental health crisis. Embedded with the fire department, she’s battling the men who don’t want her there, the clients who fight her tooth and nail, and her own wounded psyche. She wants to save the world, if the job doesn’t kill her first.

*Please note this film is also screening in the Directed by Women Sidebar

GODLAND

dir. Hlynur Pálmason (Estonia), 2022

Lucas is a 19th-century Danish priest who makes the perilous trek to Iceland’s southeastern coast with the intention of establishing a church. There, his resolve is tested as he confronts the harsh terrain, temptations of the flesh, and the reality of being an intruder in an unforgiving land. What unfolds is a transfixing journey into the heart of colonial darkness attuned to both the majesty and terrifying power of the natural world.

OTHER PEOPLE’S CHILDREN

dir. Rebecca Zlotowski (France), 2022

A dedicated teacher forms a bond with her boyfriend’s young daughter, loving the family she’s found but fearing becoming an extra in her own life.

*Please note this film is also screening in the Directed by Women Sidebar

THE UNKNOWN COUNTRY

dir. Morrisa Maltz (USA), 2022

An unexpected invitation rushes a grieving young woman into a lonely road trip through the American Midwest towards the border between Texas and Mexico.

*Please note this film is also screening in the Directed by Women Sidebar

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE COMPETITION

AUM: THE CULT AT THE END OF THE WORLD

East Coast Premiere

dir. Ben Braun & Chiaki Yanagimoto (USA), 2023

Aum Shinrikyo is a doomsday cult that became infamous for carrying out a deadly sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway system in 1995

HUMANITY STOKED

dir. Michael Ien Cohen (USA), 2022

World-famous skateboarders, scientists, artists, musicians, activists and educators, share experiences and perspectives shaped by their love of skateboarding.

INVISIBLE BEAUTY

dir. Bethann Hardison & Frédéric Tcheng (USA), 2023

This documentary profiles fashion revolutionary and activist Bethann Hardison, who championed the idea that Black is beautiful long before the fashion industry caught up.

*Please note this film is also screening as a Documentary Centerpiece selection

THE CONSPIRACY

dir. Maxim Pozdorovkin (USA), 2022

An animated film about the biggest lie ever told: Jews are plotting to take over the world. Behind the torch-bearing chants of “Jews will not replace us” is an age-old myth. As we follow this myth from the fringe to the mainstream, three Jewish families are made into scapegoats, their names forever linked to the notion that Jews are a monolithic group set on world domination.

*Please note this film is also screening as a Documentary Centerpiece selection

INDEPENDENT VISIONS FEATURE COMPETITION

LATE BLOOMERS

East Coast Premiere

dir. Lisa Steen (USA), 2023

An aimless 28 year-old Brooklynite lands in the hospital after drunkenly breaking her hip being stupid. An encounter with a cranky elderly Polish woman who speaks no English leads to a job caring for her. Neither likes it, but it’s time to grow up

*Please note this film is also screening in the Directed by Women Sidebar

PERFECTLY GOOD MOMENT

World Premiere

dir. Lauren Greenhall (USA), 2023

This erotic, psychological revenge fantasy asks the question what happens when the things that make your relationship passionate and exciting are the same things that make it toxic

*Please note this film is also screening in the Directed by Women Sidebar

SHUDDERBUGS

dir.Johanna Putnam (USA), 2022

Shutterbugs is a meditative and well-acted film focused on a woman’s pursuit of the mysteries that abound in her childhood home after her mother suddenly dies.

*Please note the film is also screening in the Directed by Women Sidebar 

THE OTHER WIDOW

dir. Ma’ayan Rypp (Israel), 2022

Israeli filmmaker Ma’ayan Rypp’s debut feature is a poignant and elegant film about a theater costume designer Ella who learns her lover, the playwright of the play she is part of, has died suddenly.

*Please note this film is also screening in the Jewish Focus Sidebar and in the Directed by Women Sidebar

NARRATIVE FEATURES

EVERYTHING WENT FINE

dir.  François Ozon (FRANCE), 2021

Everything Went Fine finds veteran director François Ozon tackling a complex subject, assisted dying, with intelligence and sensitivity.

HILMA

East Coast Premiere

dir. Lasse Hallström (Sweden), 2022

A story about Hilma during her early life and ends today; when her art connects with people of all religions and cultures. Just as she intended. 

L’IMMENSITA

dir.  Emanuele Crialese (Italy), 2022

Clara (Penélope Cruz) and Felice struggle to raise their three children in 1970s Rome. Their trans son Andrew yearns for another life, escaping into his own imagination to defuse family tensions in this creative and moving film about growing up and breaking the mold.

*Please note this film is also screening in the LGBTQ Focus Sidebar

HINTERLAND

dir. Stefan Ruzowitzky (Austria and Luxembourg), 2021

When an ex-prisoner of the Great War returns home and finds his comrades brutally murdered, he decides to bring the serial killer to justice.

PASSION OF JOAN OF ARC

dir.  Carl Theodor Dreyer (France), 1928

Danish master Carl Theodore Dryer’s great silent masterpiece portrays the trial and execution of French martyr Joan of Arc, using real transcripts from her trial, shown in a stunning restored version.

RODEO

dir. Lola Quivoron (France), 2022

After a chance meeting at an illicit ‘Rodeo’ where riders show off their bikes and stunts, Julia strives to prove herself to a volatile, ultra-masculine clique, performing cons and surviving by her wits.

*Please note this film is also screening in the Directed by Women Sidebar

SOMEWHERE IN QUEENS

dir. Ray Romano (USA), 2022

When his son’s chance at a life-changing basketball scholarship is jeopardized, Leo risks everything, including ties with his overbearing Italian-American family, to give his son a shot at a different life.

DOCUMENTARY FEATURES

HIDDEN MASTER: THE LEGACY OF GEORGE PLATT LYNES

World Premiere

dir.  Sam Shahid (USA), 2023

George Platt Lynes began his career photographing celebrities, and it’s those portraits along with his extravagant fashion work that he’s best remembered for today. However, George’s heart, his passion, and his greatest talent lay elsewhere, in his work with the male nude. This work, sensuous and radically explicit for its time, has only recently begun being fully discovered and appreciated for the revolution that it represents — a man capturing his fantasies as a gift, a window to a future his camera saw coming before anyone else. From visionary art director Sam Shahid, HIDDEN MASTER features a stunning collection of photography from the 1930s-50s, uncovering the life of Lynes less known: his gifted eye for the male form, his longterm friendships with Gertrude Stein and Alfred Kinsey, and his lasting influence as one of the first openly gay American artists.

*Please note the film is also screening in the LGBTQ Focus Sidebar

A STILL SMALL VOICE

East Coast Premiere

dir.Luke Lorentzen (USA), 2023

Mati is a chaplain completing a year-long hospital residency. Through her experiences with her patients, her struggle with professional burnout, and her own spiritual questioning, we gain new perspectives on how meaningful connection can be and how painful its absence is.

*Please note this film is also screening in the Jewish Focus Sidebar

THE GRAB

dir. Gabriela Cowperthwaite (USA) 2022

The director of award-winning doc Blackfish returns with a killer story about the next frontier of international conflict — the fight for dominance over the world’s diminishing food and water supply.

*Please note this film is also screening in the Directed by Women Sidebar

FIORETTA
Sneak Preview

dir. Matthew Mishory (USA), 2023

An evening with Randy Schoenberg featuring a sneak preview screening of Matthew Mishory’s FIORETTA. Randy Schoenberg (grandson of the famous composer) and his 18-year-old son Joey journey through Europe and the centuries to reclaim 500 years of family history.

*Please note the film is also screening as a Jewish Focus Sidebar

IT AIN’T OVER

dir. Sean Mullin (USA), 2022

An intimate portrait of a misunderstood American icon, this emotional and uplifting documentary about Yogi Berra takes us beyond the caricatures and “Yogisms,” and into the heart of a sports legend.

KAREN CARPENTER: STARVING FOR PERFECTION

East Coast Premiere

dir. Vivian Kleiman (USA), 2021

This new documentary provides new insight into pop superstar Karen Carpenter’s tragically short life and enduring musical legacy.

*Please note this film is also screening in the Music Focus Sidebar

LA GACETA: 100 YEARS AND 3 GENERATIONS BEHIND AMERICA’S ONLY TRILINGUAL NEWSPAPER

dir. Lynn Marvin Dingfelder (USA), 2022

For the past 100 years, Tampa has been a melting pot of latin cultures and La Gaceta has preserved and chronicled all of it.

LOSING GRIP

World Premiere

dir. Steven Nye  (USA), 2023

Losing Grip details Shane Wiskus’ gymnastic journey to his Olympic goal, trying to overcome challenges with injuries, COVID, and Title IX-related program cuts. 

LOST ANGEL: THE GENIUS OF JUDEE SILL

dir. Brian Lindstrom & Andy Brown (USA), 2022

The tragic story of the very talented spiritual musician Judee Sill who didn’t make in LA’s 70’s music scene while other talented musicians did.

PIANOFORTE

East Coast Premiere

dir. Jakub Piqtek (Poland), 2023

An intimate coming-of-age portrait of young pianists taking part in the legendary International Chopin Piano Competition.

RIDERS ON THE STORM

East Coast Premiere

dir. Jason Motlagh & Mark Oltmanns (Austria), 2023

Riders on the Storm captures a pivotal moment in Afghan history offering a rare and visceral look at a ruthless sports culture where champions become marked men.

RUN, RAVEN, RUN

dir. Michael Rainin (USA), 2023

Despite a historical legacy that dealt the dark cards of slavery, holocaust and poverty, music has always been the winning hand for Gypsy survival.

STARTING FROM ZERO

dir. Hassan Amini (USA), 2023

Following the plight of 3 refugees escaping the Taliban after the U.S. military’s sudden withdrawal from Afghanistan.

*Please note the film is also screening in the Directed by Women Sidebar

THE NEIGHBORHOOD STORYTELLER

dir. Alejandra Alcala (UAE), 2022

desperate vacant lives are changed by joining a group focused on reading and telling stories. Asmaa the leader of the group is a “neighborhood storyteller” who like the young girls she guides was destined to a life of desperation before she found the courage to become a unique educator.

*Please note the film is also screening in the Directed by Women Sidebar

THROUGH THE TUNNEL

dir.  Durand Adams & Charles Clapsaddle (USA), 2010

Through the Tunnel gives a glimpse of the transition from the segregated to integrated school systems of the 1960s in Manatee County Florida.

TOWN DESTROYER

dir. Deborah Kaufman & Alan Snitow (USA), 2022

A high-profile battle erupts over images of African American slaves and Native Americans in New Deal-era murals at George Washington High School in San Francisco, leading to a passionate outpouring of activism and opinions about art, history, and racial reckoning in America.

*Please note the film is also screening in the Directed by Women Sidebar

20 DAYS IN MARIUPOL

dir. Mstsylav Chernov (Ukraine), 2023

20 Days in Mariupol is a gripping documentary that follows a team of Ukrainian journalists from The Associated Press as they document the atrocities of the Russian invasion in the besieged city of Mariupol.

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