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Sarasota Film Festival announces this year's lineup

SARASOTA — Sarasota will become a slice of Tinseltown as several Hollywood stars descend for the 12th annual Sarasota Film Festival from April 9 to April 18.

Celebrity guests include new and old faces to the festival, such as actors Kevin Kline, Patricia Clarkson, Ben Foster, Stanley Tucci, Steve Buscemi, Vincent D’Onofrio, director John Landis and others. There’s a possibility of TV’s “Saturday Night Live” alums joining the event, too.

Mark Famiglio, film festival president, announced the line up and other new programming with his staff during Monday’s Sarasota Film Festival kickoff party at the Longboat Key Club’s Tennis Gardens.

“We’re doing some different kinds of things this year,” Famiglio told the crowd.

Some of those new things include the launch of The Investor’s Lab, which will include film script readings, and a celebration of Florida and local film makers that will take the place of the annual World Cinema street party at the Sarasota Yacht Club, Famiglio said.

The Investors Lab will connect national filmmakers to financial businesses partners who desire to invest in independent film. Besides panel discussion and private meetings at the Longboat Key Club, seven projects will be featured in the lab, including the centerpiece “Queer.” “Queer,” an unproduced project directed by Steve Buscemi with script from the Academy Award nominee Oren Moverman, will be presented as a script reading at 7:30 p.m. April 16 at Florida Studio Theatre. The film is based on a novel by William Burroughs and has been a project Buscemi has been trying to get financed for about a decade, according to various film magazines.

Buscemi has enlisted world class actors for the reading, said Tom Hall, festival artistic director.

But the zest of the film festival isn’t just about stars or the parties; it’s about the films. In all, 168 films from 30 countries will be presented, including 30 films by Florida filmmakers.

“It represents one of the most diverse lineups we’ve ever had,” said director of programming Holly Herrick.

This year’s opening night film is “The Extra Man,” which stars Academy and Tony Award winning Kline, Paul Dano, John C. Reilly and Katie Holmes. Dano plays Louis Ives, a would-be writer who moves to New York and befriends Henry Harrison (Kline), a male escort who is a social companion for elderly women. The peculiar Henry shows him the ropes of high society.

The closing night film is James Franco’s “Saturday Night,” a behind-the-scenes documentary on the famed TV show “Saturday Night Live.” “We’ve invited several people from that film to join us,” Hall said. “We’re working on getting them here now. It’s really going to be a great event this year.”

The Filmmaker Tribute, set for April 17 at the Sarasota Opera House, will honor Landis, whose directing talents has given life to film projects such as “Animal House,” “The Blues Brothers” Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” “Coming to America” and many more.

Speciality programs include “Cinema Diaspora: International Perspectives on Jewish Identity,” “Views From The Sunshine State: Sarasota & Florida Filmmakers” and a new partnership with the Sarasota-based “Through Women’s Eyes” film fest, which will be held during the Sarasota Film Festival.

The popular “In Conversation With ...” series will be held at Florida Studio Theatre this year with Kline, Clarkson, D’Onofrio and Don Hahn, director of Walt Disney’s “Waking Sleeping Beauty,” “The Lion King” and other animated films. Free outreach and education programs and the “Night of A Thousand Stars” party will also return this year.

Tickets for the films go on sale 11 a.m. Friday. The new box office will be across the street from Regal Cinemas Hollywood 20 in the Synovus Bank Building. Tickets are also available at 366-6200 and www.sarasotafilmfestival.com.

January Holmes, features writer, can be reached at 745-7057. Follow her on Twitter at @accentbradenton.

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