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Sarasota Film Festival

Sarasota Film Festival 2021 Closes with the Heartfelt Film Dream Horse

| Angela Naff |

The Sarasota Film Festival closed out live events on Saturday with the 6 p.m. showing of the heartfelt film Dream Horse. The CineBistro Siesta Key hosted this final event, from the red carpet through to the show. The CineBistro did have a limited food and drink menu and social distancing to keep all attendees safe and engaged through the evening. It was a light crowd for sure, but an engaged and energetic one during this film, which was fun to be a small part of for sure.

Dream Horse stars Toni Collette as Jan Vokes, a Welsh bartender that formed an alliance with her neighbors in her village to sponsor a racehorse they named Dream Alliance. The film is based on a true story and even featured Jan and other inspirational real-life members of the alliance in the closing scene, which was an amazing touch. The film truly is a testament to the human spirit of overcoming the everyday trivial issues that pile up to bury our dreams so deep you no longer can remember what they were.

Sarasota Film Festival

Jan leads a fairly ordinary life, just trying to make ends meet and care for her family. Something sparks a fire in her one day to buy a racehorse, as she loves animals and remembers times from her childhood of winning a variety of medals and awards for raising and showing animals. These memories stir something inside that makes her want to follow through on becoming a winner in something again. In reality, she just needs a reason to get up in the morning and have something to look forward to.

Originally this film debuted at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2020, with a release due to the pandemic gearing up. Due to that, it was held back from being released and will go to film in late May this year. This showing at the Sarasota Film Festival was a treat for all in the auditorium on Saturday. There were moments when everyone held their breath and then cheered and clapped when Dream Alliance’s victories occurred against huge odds after a massive injury.

As someone that hasn’t been to a movie theatre since the pandemic started, and I have never been to such an event, this was a unique experience. Everyone was heartfelt, happy to be there, and while the crowd, as I’m sure lighter than organizers would have liked, supplementing it with virtual showings this year was a great idea to expand viewers and those that could engage. CineBistro did a good job with the food, drinks, and getting attendees cared for.

All in all, I would say the ending of the Sarasota Film festival was one for the record books. Overcoming a pandemic to come back stronger than ever, the Sarasota Film Festival organizers offered an amazing catalog of film offerings. I’m sure this next year for 2021 leading up to the 2022 festival will be better than ever, and we shall all wait to see what amazing things they bring to the Suncoast next.

Photos courtesy of Angela Naff

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