Sarasota Film Festival 2006

So, the Sarasota Film Festival kicked off on Saturday. Over 180 films! Thanks to a heads-up from Patrícia, on the opening day of the festival, I caught a talk given by several of the directors/producers exhibiting at the festival. It took place at Metro. That was really cool; we got to hear their experiences doing the film festival circuit, budgeting, what it’s like to be an independent filmmaker vs. being funded commercially, and other stuff. Tip to first time filmmakers: if you want to show at Sundance, don’t submit your film to any other festival, or the Sundance folks won’t accept it.

L to R: (leaning over) Director Jaci Judelson, Tina Barney: Social Studies; Director Goran Dukic, Wristcutters: A Love Story; Director Van Fischer, Neo Ned; Director Susan Seidelman, Boynton Beach Club; Director I’m not sure, of some film :); Director Jay Wade Edwards, Stomp! Shout! Scream!; Directors Jenny Abel and Jeff Hockett, Abel Raises Cain.

That night we saw Wheel of Time, a German documentary about the habits of Buddhist pilgrims. A great film, done in true German style (that is to say, scientific and rigorous). At times I felt a little uncomfortable watching it, because it felt like the camera was invading these peoples’ sacred rituals, but nobody seemed to mind (the younger kids even hammed it up for the camera a few times). But wow… it was a real eye opener. I had no idea anyone could be so selfless. Amazing to watch. 8/10. Unfortunately the projection system screwed up and we were left for five minutes with audio but no video; it’s okay, though, we got vouchers to see another movie for free so alls well. Opening day woes methinks.

Sunday I saw Stomp! Shout! Scream!. It was a tribute to the 60s Beach party/Rock and Roll/Monster movie, set somewhere in the deep south. It was great, a true homage to a genre that really defied any sort of logical explanation. Director Jay Wade Edwards (of Aqua Teen Hunger Force fame) says they tried to play it straight and they do, for the most part. Except there are a couple of knowing winks to the audience that had me laughing out of my chair. It was this earnest dedication to the craft of making a quality, new picture in a genre that hadn’t seen any new films for decades, that caught my eye and caused me to pick up the DVD. You don’t often see people putting this much work into things these days and it’s clear Mr. Edwards and his crew loved every minute of it. 7/10.

And finally, last night I saw the documentary feature Before the Music Dies, which was, in a nutshell, an indictment of the current state of the music industry. From the summary: “With outstanding performances and revealing interviews, Before the Music Dies takes a critical and comedic look at the homogenization of popular music with commentary by some of the industry’s biggest talent. Using historic footage, the film looks at the evolution of American music and the artists who created it.” All I can say is, I can’t wait for this to come out on DVD (should be out this summer). It was one of the best documentaries I’ve seen in a long time. You can keep an eye on showings/release dates on their website. 8.5/10.
I’ve still got that free voucher, so I’ll be seeing at least one more film before the week is out 🙂

Jay Wade Edwards doing Q&A after screening of Stomp! Shout! Scream!