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Sarasota Film Festival

Celebrating Excellence: Highlights from the 26th Sarasota Film Festival

| Suncoast Post Staff |

The 26th annual Sarasota Film Festival concluded with a flourish on Saturday, April 13th, marking the end of an exhilarating 10-day event. The festival showcased a diverse array of films, engaging talkbacks, educational initiatives, and more, leaving attendees inspired and entertained.

The Closing Night featured a screening of Vertical Entertainment’s “THE LISTENER,” directed by Steve Buscemi and produced by Buscemi and Wren Arthur for their Olive Pictures banner. Following the screening, Buscemi participated in a career retrospective conversation moderated by David Fear, Senior Editor and Critic at Rolling Stone.

Sarasota Film Festival
Steve Buscemi,  Producer- Wren Arthur,   SFF President- Mark Famiglio

Actor Austin Abrams, a Sarasota-native, was honored with the festival’s Rising Star Award for his remarkable performances in various acclaimed projects.

The festival also announced its Jury and Audience Award winners, recognizing outstanding films and filmmakers across various categories.

Jury Award Winners

  • Narrative Feature Competition Winner: “THELMA,” directed by Josh Margolin
  • Documentary Feature Competition Winner: “SUGARCANE,” directed by Emily Kassie & Julian Brave NoiseCat
  • Documentary Feature Jury Special Mention: “PORCELAIN WAR,” directed by Brendan Bellomo & Slava Leontyev
  • Independent Visions Competition Winner: “ART THIEF,” directed by Arthur Egeli
  • Narrative Short Competition Winner: “LESSONS,” directed by Shawn Butcher
  • Documentary Short Competition Winner: “ALOK,” directed by Alex Hedison
  • International Short Competition Winner: “THE WAITING,” directed by Volker Schlecht

Audience Award Winners

  • Local Audience Award Winner: “INTO THE SPOTLIGHT: THE JAKE ILARDI STORY,” directed by Liam Jordan
  • Industry Audience Award Winner: “LUTHER: NEVER TOO MUCH,” directed by Dawn Porter

Sarasota Film Festival President and Chairman of the Board Mark Famiglio expressed his gratitude to the community for their support and highlighted the festival’s role in inspiring young creatives.

The festival also announced its partnership with USA Swimming, supporting the Open Water National Championships and promoting swimming education.

Sarasota Film Festival
Showing of the “Big Lebowski” at the Van Wezel

The 26th annual Sarasota Film Festival was a resounding success, showcasing the best in cinema and fostering a vibrant artistic community. Congratulations to all the winners and participants!

For more information about the Sarasota Film Festival, please visit: Sarasota Film Festival Website

Vicky Sullivan Photos

Top Photo- Director, Producer, Actor- Steve Buscemi,

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