The movies are ones you may have never heard of, unless you make a point to keep an eye on the most respected independent films and documentaries of the year.
But on hand throughout the 15th annual installment of the Sarasota Film Festival will be actors and directors even the most casual film-goer will know.
On Monday, festival officials announced some of the key films and some of the most significant actors and filmmakers who will highlight this year's festival, slated for April 5-15.
Among the biggest names slated to make personal appearances at this year's festival, which is set for April 5-14, are actors Mariel Hemingway, Lili Taylor, Cheryl Hines and Griffin Dunne and actor/director Peter Bogdanovich.
"What's exciting to me," festival director Tom Hall said, "Is that these are all legendary artist who are coming here with new work."
The festival opens April 5 with a screening of "Blackfish," a documentary about Tilikum, the killer whale in captivity at Sea World who has killed three people. Director Gabriela Cowperthwaite is scheduled to attend the screening at Van Wezel performing Arts hall.
Closing the festival on April 15 is "Frances Ha," a
new comedy directed and co-written by Noah Baumbach, who's best known for "The Squid and the Whale" and "The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou."
Other films announced Monday are "Running From Crazy," a documentary about Mariel Hemingway and her family's struggles with mental health issues and suicide.
The film is directed by Oscar-winning documentarian Barbara Kopple ("Harlan County, U.S.A." "Shut Up and Sing."), who will also be at the festival.
"The film is great," Hall said.
"I really can't praise it enough. It's fantastic."
Young director James Ponsoldt will be on hand for a screening of his acclaimed comedy "The Spectacular Now."
This year's festival introduces a new "Spotlight Series" of films that organizers expect to be especially popular with, Included are "Burma," which stars Christopher Abbott and Gaby Hoffman, Justin Schwarz's "The Discoverers," starring Dunne, and the world premiere of Will Slocombe's "Pasadena," starring Bogdanovich and Hines.
At a luncheon set for 11 a.m. April 12 at the Sarasota Yacht Club, Hemingway will receive the festival's third annual Impact Award, honoring women in the film industry for their off-screen impact.
Hemingway will receive the award for her advocacy on the issue of suicide prevention.
Taylor will receive the festival's Career Achievement in Acting Award, and will attend the festival with the North American Premiere of Tom Gilroy's "The Cold Lands, in which she stars.
Kopple will receive the festival's Director's Award, and the festival's Achievement in Acting Award will go to Griffin Dunne for his performance in "Laurence Anyways," which will screen at the festival.
The full lineup of more than 200 festival films and other events will be announced Wednesday, March 13, Hall said.
For details, see www.sarasotafilmfestival.com.
Marty Clear, features writer/columnist, can be reached at 941-748-0411. ext. 7919. Follow him on twitter.com/martinclear.