Sarasota Film Festival premieres locally made film in Bradenton

mclear@bradenton.comMarch 9, 2014 

Officials of the Sarasota Film Festival have been saying for a while that they wanted the festival to have a presence in Manatee County.

This year they have the perfect film and the perfect venue to inaugurate that presence.

On Friday, the Sarasota Film Festival will present the premiere of a documentary called "The Enduring Beauty of Memory" at the Manatee Center for Performing Arts.

"The Enduring Beauty of Memory" was filmed and produced entirely in the Bradenton area. It was written by retired circuit court judge Durand Adams, and current court judge Charles Williams. Adams, Williams and Charles Clapsaddle, the station manager at Manatee Educational Television, directed.

That's the same team that produced "Through the Tunnel," an acclaimed documentary about the dying days of segregation and the birth of integration in Manatee County.

It's billed as a "special presentation" by the film festival, which runs April 4-13 in Sarasota. The festival's 2014 lineup will be announced on Wednesday, two days before the screening of the "Memory" film. Tickets for the festival will be available at the event.

"We're bringing the box office to Bradenton," said Charlie Ann Syprett, the festival's development director.

The 67-minute "Memory" film explores the way memory works and the way it shapes our lives. It combines personal stories from Bradenton-area residents

with scientific information about the workings of memory, how it is built and how it can be lost. The scientific discussion comes from Dr. Michael Mullan, chief executive officer of Sarasota's Roskamp Institute.

The film celebrates both the mysteries and the science of memory. And the science often surprises people, Mullan said.

"Now we have the idea that our memories are like memories in computers, and of course, they're completely different," Mullan said. "I think the biggest difference is that our memories are organic. They're living. They change. We sort of assume that our memories are accurate, but they're anything but."

Mullan's said his contribution to the film was discuss the mechanics of memory -- how memories are stored and retrieved for a biological point of view.

The film is by no means dry and academic, though. Mullan uses paintings from the Ringling Museum of Art to illustrate his points. And Adams and his partners asked Bradenton-area residents what their very first memory was, what their best memory was and how their own memory works. Some, including Sue Revell, executive director of the Manatee County Bar Association, discuss problems with memory loss that members of their families have faced, especially from Alzheimer's disease.

Just as people have misconceptions about how a healthy memory works, they also misunderstand how Alzheimer's destroys it, Mullan said.

"It's the short terms memory that's affected first," he said. "People think Alzheimer's makes them forget things, but what it really does is cause them to not remember things in the first place. New memories are not formed."

For the presentation at the Manatee Performing Arts Center, the filmmakers, Mullan, Revell and others Bradenton-area residents involved with the film will be on stage, with welcoming remarks before the premiere and a panel discussion afterwards.

After its premiere in Bradenton, the film will become part of this year's film festival rotation.

It's the only SFF film that will be shown in Bradenton this year, but Syprett said the festival "absolutely" plans to continue and enhance its Manatee County presence in future years.

"After our analysis of the audience at the festival, we discovered that Manatee County really loves the Sarasota Film Festival," Syprett said. "So we've really been wanting to reach out to Manatee County. And now we have this spectacular facility to work with. The people who made this film are all from Manatee County, the people who appear in he film are all from Manatee County," Syprett said. "We thought, what better way to reach out to Manatee County than with a home-grown film?"

"The Enduring Beauty of Memory" is aimed at the lay person, Mullan said, but it's intellectually stimulating

"Judge Adams asked me a provocative question early in the process," he said. "He asked me, 'If we lose all our memories, what is left? What are we?' It think that's an excellent question and that's what the film looks at."

The film is scheduled for 7 p.m. March 14. Tickets are $53.74. To buy tickets or get more information, go to www.sarasotafilmfestival.com.The Manatee Performing Arts Center is at 502 Third Ave. W., Bradenton.

Marty Clear, features writer/columnist, can be reached at 941-708-7919.

Follow twitter.com/martinclear.

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