All things Siesta Key. Stories, news, and event information about Sarasota, Florida's beautiful beach.
The Sarasota Film Festival
One of Sarasota’s most unique and compelling annual attractions is coming up and you won’t want to miss it! The Sarasota Film Festival has become a staple in the community, bringing hundreds of film-makers, stars, and movie enthusiasts together for 10 days of amazing cinema. The local experts at Best Western Siesta Key have put together this guide with everything you need- and want- to know about the festival. If you’re around during this awesome event, be sure to check it out.
Details of Upcoming Festival
Date: This year’s film festival will be held from March 27-April 5.
Film Schedule: To plan your festival experience, keep an eye out for the official Film Guide. A digital copy will be available online, but hard copies are available around town at local businesses and of course, our Box Office.
Pricing: Prices vary depending on availability. Discounts are available to students and educators, but the best way to get the most for your money is to become a member of SFF. Not only will you receive discounts on all films, but you’ll also have priority for Day-Of Films (those that are in such high demand that tickets become limited). This is also a fantastic way to support SFF! Since we are a non-profit organization, we rely on monetary donations as well as volunteers.
Volunteering: We encourage anyone in the community who’d like to participate to volunteer! Local students can even earn service hours for their schools.
Awards/Prizes: Audience awards will be chosen and presented in the following categories: Best Narrative Feature, Documentary, World Cinema, and Short. A film jury will award prizes in the following categories: Best Narrative Feature, Documentary Feature, Independent Visions, Narrative Short, Documentary Short, and Animated Short.
History of Film in Sarasota
In January 1951, director Cecil B. DeMille began filming his circus epic, “The Greatest Show On Earth,” starring Charlton Heston, Betty Hutton, and Jimmy Stewart (who appeared throughout in full clown make-up), in downtown Sarasota. The town went crazy for the production. In his autobiography, DeMille wrote, “There must have been more than 50,000 people on the streets when we let it be known that we were going to film the circus parade, and, of course, photograph the crowd.” The film earned $14 million at the box office and won the Academy Award for Best Picture.
Other major films that have been filmed in the area include “Honky Tonk Freeway” (1981), “A Flash of Green” (1984), “Palmetto” (1998), “Great Expectations” (1998), “Out of Time” (2003), “Spring Breakers (2013), “Parker” (2013) and “Dark Night” (2017). In 2016, Florida ended its film tax incentives program, leading to big-budget films moving on to other locations. But the Sarasota Film Festival still draws big-name celebrities and high-profile directors to the area each year to celebrate the best films.
The Prestige of the Sarasota Film Festival
For the past 22 years, the Sarasota Film Festival has established itself as a premier festival of all things cinema, finding itself among some of the most prestigious festivals in the country. With more than 100 films screened each year in a variety of categories, including documentaries, shorts, and kid-friendly picks. Awards include recognition for local film-makers as well as young film-makers with an under-18 category. With year-round programs to promote education and film students, including film contests, camps, and instructional workshops, there is always something going on behind the scenes through the Sarasota Film Festival.
Visit Sarasota during the Sarasota Film Festival to experience one of our city’s most cultural experiences. Known for its support of the arts, Sarasota has embraced the film festival as one more sample of our eclectic creative spirit. Find your film guide at the Best Western Siesta Key or other local businesses around town, then plan your movie-going experience to make the most of this noteworthy festival.