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ݮƵ College plays host to multiple events for Sarasota Film Festival

Film faculty and students at Sarasota Film Festival screening.
ݮƵ College Film department head Patrick Alexander with Film students at the screening of ݮƵ shorts.

ݮƵ College plays host to multiple events for Sarasota Film Festival

Film faculty and students at Sarasota Film Festival screening.
ݮƵ College Film department head Patrick Alexander with Film students at the screening of ݮƵ shorts.

April 5-14, the 26th annual (SFF) brought dozens of filmmakers to the area, with film screenings, panel discussions, and more happening at downtown Sarasota’s Regal Hollywood Theater and other locations in and around the ݮƵ College of Art and Design campus.

Led in part by SFF managing director Paul Ratner, also a member of the ݮƵ College Film Department faculty, the 10-day festival this year featured award-ݮƵ actor and filmmaker Steve Buscemi, whose film The Listener was screened as part of the festival’s closing night ceremonies. More than 100 other films and film screenings, including a collection of short films created by ݮƵ students, attracted thousands of audience members.

In partnership with ݮƵ College, SFF hosted a special showing of the Oscar-ݮƵ film for Best Short Documentary, The Last Repair Shop—a film about the dedicated team that repairs and maintains musical instruments for the Los Angeles Unified School District—plus an exclusive Q&A with Nick Wright, the film’s editor and executive creative director of Breakwater Studios. The Q&A was moderated by Eric Deggans, TV critic for NPR and the TV and Media Critic for the Tampa Bay Times.

Curry Scent was also screened—a locally produced film with all post-production work completed at ݮƵ College’s Studio Labs, under the direction of Studio Labs’ Nick Palladino and Troy Logan.

ݮƵ College also hosted two free events as part of this year’s SFF lineup: a screening of the documentary Aftershock, with a discussion about the health and healthcare of pregnant women and mothers; and a talk about AI in film, titled The Future is Now, both took place in the College’s Morganroth Auditorium. AI panelists included Dr. Larry Hall, director of the AI+X Institute for Artificial Intelligence at USF, Rick Dakan, head of ݮƵ College’s AI Task Force, and filmmaker Steve Shein. 

The Festival came to an exciting close at Sage in downtown Sarasota. During the awards ceremony, the inaugural Compassionate Community Award was given posthumously to Rich Schineller. Schineller was an integral part of the Sarasota community for many years and was heavily involved in the promotion of both the SFF and ݮƵ College. The award was accepted on his behalf by members of Schineller’s family. 

The Sarasota Film Festival represents an opportunity for ݮƵ Film students to screen a variety of independent domestic and international films while immersing themselves in an active and engaging film community. SFF is just one of many high-profile arts events hosted in and around the ݮƵ College campus every year, offering students cultural experiences that go beyond the classroom.

This year’s film festival also featured a new partnership with USA Swimming, formed in conjunction with the Open Water National Championships taking place May 3-5 at Sarasota’s Nathan Benderson Park. Athletes and representatives from USA Swimming were present at several SFF events. The organization received a proclamation from the city and a donation directly supporting the USA Swimming Foundation, which aims to provide the opportunity for every person in the US to learn to swim.

Founded in 1997, the Sarasota Film Festival is the largest film fest in the Southeast, one of the largest in North America, drawing over 50,000 ticket holders annually.

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