Festival run April 30th through May 9th, 2021
MY OCTOPUS TEACHER filmmakers James Reed and Pippa Ehrlich to be honored with Excellence in Documentary Filmmaking Award, film to play as Centerpiece
The Sarasota Film Festival (SFF) announced today Roadside Attractions’ documentary RITA MORENO: JUST A GIRL WHO DECIDED TO GO FOR IT as the festival’s Opening Night Film on April 30, 2021. Bleecker Street & and Topic Studios’ DREAM HORSE be featured as the festival’s Closing Night Film starring Academy Award nominee and Emmy Award winner Toni Collette (KNIVES OUT, THE SIXTH SENSE) and Emmy Award winner Damian Lewis (ONCE UPON A TIME … IN HOLLYWOOD, TV’s BILLIONS, HOMELAND) on May 8, 2021. The festival will also screen IFC’s film CENTIGRADE as a Midnight Horror Special starring Vincent Piazza (JERSEY BOYS, BOARDWALK EMPIRE) now available on Hulu.
Additionally it was announced that filmmakers James Reed and Pippa Ehrlich, who directed MY OCTOPUS TEACHER, now streaming on Netflix and nominated for Best Documentary Feature at this year’s Academy Awards, will receive the Excellence in Documentary Filmmaking Award this year. The film documents filmmaker Craig Foster as he forges an unusual friendship with an octopus living in a South African kelp forest, learning as the animal shares the mysteries of her world. The film will play as the festival’s Centerpiece and Reed and Ehrlich will participate in the festival’s popular “In Conversation With…” series.
RITA MORENO: JUST A GIRL WHO DECIDED TO GO FOR IT, directed by Mariem Pérez Riera, examines the life and career of EGOT winner and legendary performer Rita Moreno from her upbringing in Puerto Rico to her success on Broadway and in Hollywood. Bleecker Street and Topic Studios’ DREAM HORSE, tells the inspiring true story of a small town bartender who breeds a racehorse that becomes a beacon of hope, directed by Euros Lyn (TV’s DOCTOR WHO, DAREDEVIL). In Brendan Walsh’s CENTIGRADE, a married couple fights for survival, trapped inside a frozen car following a blizzard.
“With the arts playing a more influential role in today’s society now more than ever, we are thrilled to program such engaging and intriguing films that are sure to delight our audiences,” said Mark Famiglio, Chairman and President of the Sarasota Film Festival. “We are excited to honor James Reed and Pippa Ehrlich with this year’s Excellence in Documentary Filmmaking Award, and applaud their work with the Academy Award-nominated MY OCTOPUS TEACHER whose maritime themes and messages are important to the Sarasota community.”
The 23rd annual Sarasota Film Festival, which will take place from April 30th to May 9th with virtual and in-person events, greatly appreciates the support of its corporate sponsors, including The Famiglio Family, Sack Family, Wallack Family Fund, Amicus Foundation, CMX CinéBistro, Embassy Suites by Hilton, Stella Artois, Tito’s Handmade Vodka, WSLR, Netwurx, Jewish Federation, Family Beautiful, Sarasota Scene Magazine, Intermedia Productions, Sande Caplin & Associates, SMAA, iHeart Media, SarasotaOUT, Top 10 Sarasota, SNN, METV, and Sage. The festival is sponsored in part by the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs and the Florida Council on Arts and Culture as well as the Sarasota County Tourism Development Tax Revenues.
This year the Sarasota Film Festival will be presented in a hybrid format featuring outdoor, public as well as virtual screenings and events including the popular live Q&A’s and conversations. After popular demand during the 2020 edition, the festival will continue its presentation of programming in various formats for local and national audiences. Tickets for the festival will go on sale beginning Thursday, April 15, 2021. Additional programming announcements will be made in the coming weeks.
OPENING NIGHT FILM
RITA MORENO: JUST A GIRL WHO DECIDED TO GO FOR IT
(USA) Director: Mariem Pérez Riera
Synopsis: A look at the life and work of Rita Moreno from her humble beginnings in Puerto Rico to her success on Broadway and in Hollywood.
CLOSING NIGHT FILM
(United Kingdom) Director: Euros Lyn
Synopsis: The film tells the inspiring true story of Dream Alliance, an unlikely race horse bred by small town bartender, Jan Vokes. With very little money and no experience, Jan convinces her neighbors to chip in their meager earnings to help raise Dream and compete with the racing elites. Their investment pays off as Dream rises through the ranks and becomes a beacon of hope in their struggling community.
MY OCTOPUS TEACHER
(USA) Directors: James Reed and Pippa Ehrlich – SFF Excellence in Documentary Filmmaking Award Recipients
Synopsis: After years spent filming some of the planet’s most dangerous animals, Craig Foster was burned out and depressed, his family relationships in turmoil. He decided to put a halt to his career to reconnect with his own roots – the magical underwater world of the kelp forest off the coast of his hometown – Cape Town, South Africa. For nearly a decade, Craig went diving daily in the icy cold waters, ditching wetsuit and scuba rig in one of the most predator dense places on earth. The common octopus he met and tracked became first his subject, then his teacher, showing him things no human had ever witnessed. Shot over eight years, with 3000 hours of footage, My Octopus Teacher documents a unique friendship, interaction and animal intelligence never seen before.
MIDNIGHT HORROR SPECIAL
(USA) Directors: Brendan Walsh
Synopsis: In 2002, a young American couple travel to the arctic mountains of Norway. After pulling over during a snowstorm, they wake up trapped in their SUV, buried underneath layers of snow and Ice. Matthew and Naomi realize they must work together to survive in a crippling battle against the elements, hypothermia, disturbing hallucinations, and plunging temperatures reaching as low as -30C. Will they make it out of this alive?