The Sarasota Film Festival has always been sweet to Manatee County, but a real relationship has never blossomed. That could finally change this year.
At least that was how I left feeling after the festival held its first “town hall meeting” last week.
The magic moment came near the end, during the question-and-answer session. SFF Director Tom Hall was doing a great job of fielding silly questions about why tickets to the films couldn’t be free when a familiar voice came booming from the back of the packed room at Selby Library in Sarasota.
Mark Famiglio, president of SFF’s board of directors, spoke up about Bradenton.
“Is it true about the festival’s increased presence in Manatee County?” he asked. Hall confirmed the statement but didn’t have time to go into details.
I made a beeline to Famiglio for a one-on-one in the hallway after the meeting ended.
He said they were in talks to bring the Sarasota Film Festival to Bradenton venues and benefit children’s charities in Manatee County.
“We want to have our biggest presence to date this year in Manatee County,” was his encouraging quote.
I went back to Hall after most of the crowd had left. “Our goal this year is to bring films and filmmakers to Manatee County during the festival itself,” he said.
“In the past, we did events prior to the festival but never concurrent -- we’re trying very hard to make that happen.”
The full film line-up will be announced March 19, with tickets on sale to the general public beginning March 23. The 14th annual Sarasota Film Festival takes place April 13-22.
Including, say, Bishop Planetarium and Neel Performing Arts Center could be a huge boon for Bradenton.
SFF has established itself as perhaps the largest and most respected film festivals in the entire Southeast. It’s a regional destination for movie mavens and party people.
Here’s to hoping Manatee County can finally be part of this great celebration of cinema.
Wade Tatangelo, can be reached at 941-745-7057. Visit heraldbuzzworthy.blogspot.com.