Sarasota Film Festival

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The Sarasota Film Festival is a film festival located in Sarasota, Florida. Its mission is "to present unique and high-quality cinema in a festival atmosphere for the purpose of educating, stimulating and entertaining audiences".


Following the demise of the Sarasota French Film Festival in 1996, John Welch began researching and planning an independent film festival. He hired Jody Kielbasa as Executive Director and the first "mini-festival", featuring eight independent films, six actors and a gala fundraiser was held in January 1999. The county controversially funded the festival double what it requested, for a total of $50,000. The investment was defended as good for tourism.[1][2][3] In 2002, the St. Petersburg Times highlighted the festival's potential for marketing and distribution,[4] and, in 2003, Variety called the festival "one of the edgier, more interesting entrants on the scene."[5] In 2006, the start date was changed from January to April.[6] In 2008, the Sarasota Herald-Tribune wrote that the festival had evolved to be more about funding than premieres.[7] Amid financial problems, Welch and others resigned from the executive committee in 2009, citing a different vision than that of the current festival.[2] The Sarasota Herald-Tribune said in 2014 that the festival was now a "showcase for serious independent films and the cinephiles who love them."[8]


  1. ^ Schroer, Steve (1999-10-07). "Sarasota Film Festival Windfall Irritates Other Arts Leaders". Sarasota Herald-Tribune. p. 6B. 
  2. ^ a b Handelman, Jay (2009-07-29). "Changing of the guard at film festival". Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Retrieved 2014-06-26. 
  3. ^ Persall, Steve (2001-01-05). "Sarasota film fest more blue jeans than black tie". St. Petersburg Times. Retrieved 2014-06-26. 
  4. ^ Persall, Steve (2002-01-18). "Sarasota's draw? It's not in show biz". St. Petersburg Times. Retrieved 2014-06-26. 
  5. ^ Dawes, Amy (2003-08-24). "Spotlight: Miami and Sarasota". Variety. Retrieved 2014-06-26. 
  6. ^ Oei, Lily (2005-02-13). "Sarasota fest can rest ’til March". Variety. Retrieved 2014-06-26. 
  7. ^ Handelman, Jay (2008-03-30). "10th celebratiion of movies". Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Retrieved 2014-06-26. 
  8. ^ Seidman, Carrie (2014-04-14). "Less glitz, more substance at 2014 Sarasota Film Festival". Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Retrieved 2014-06-26. 

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