When The Jonestown Defense premiers at the Sarasota Film Festival, don’t be surprised to see some familiar scenery. The film, directed by New Yorker Greg Takoudes, was shot entirely within Sarasota County. And despite being shot by an outsider with a cast of New York actors, the film does a remarkable job of capturing the malaise that gripped many in Sarasota’s business community in the past few years.
We have seen a screener already and were impressed with how in touch Takoudes was with the specific economic troubles of the area. Takoudes told SRQ that he relied heavily on Realtor Linda Ann Remley, who has a small part in the film, to provide much of that local color. “This movie is partly a response to what everybody is going through all over the country. Certainly, the economic climate hit everybody hard, but some places got hit harder than others,” Takoudes said. “Real estate got clobbered, and Florida got clobbered.”
The film was actually born in part out of the Sarasota Film Festival. Takoudes screened a film here a couple years ago and fell in love with the area. He originally had planned to shoot his next film in Alaska, but that got delayed for various reasons, and he decided in the meantime to film a production here. “You just get a sense there is a growing film community there, and there is a lot of support for movies being made in Sarasota,” he said, making special note of assistance by Jeanne Corcoran at the Sarasota County Film and Entertainment Office.
He also fell in love with the setting. He noted the pseudo-natural beauty that could be found in the manmade canals in the area, and felt that made a great juxtaposition to the untouched wonder of the Myakka River State Park. The contrast is laid out in exposition by the film’s main character Chris Waite (Dennis Ostermaier) as he takes a boat through a waterfront housing community.
Takoudes plans to be in Sarasota for both screenings of The Jonestown Defense. The world premiere is at the Hollywood 20 on April 15 at 6:30pm. A second screening will happen April 16 at 2:45pm. Until then, a trailer: