Beyond Sarasota

The Sarasota Film Festival tonight is going where its never gone before: Venice.

Well, I’m sure somebody from the Film Fest has been to Venice, and certainly films shot in Venice have been in the festival line-up. But tonight’s kickoff event, scheduled at 5:30pm at the Venice Theatre, marks the first time a significant SFF event has happened outside the Sarasota community, and it is just the beginning this year. Another kickoff will happen in Bradenton on Thursday.

The Venice Theatre

I recall Tom Hall at the Sarasota kickoff event earlier this month telling the crowd “This Festival exists solely for this community.” That goes along with the theme, of course, that the SFF is no longer so focused on being a market festival, and instead is trying to be rooted in the needs of locals.

But it is also interesting what SFF now believes to be its community. Films will screen for the first time in Manatee County this year when the SFF@SCF event brings five environmentally-focused films to the State College of Florida auditorium, just as an example.

It is unclear right now if Venice will host much more with this year’s festival, though we may learn more tonight. What is clear is that the SFF, while looking away from a Sundance model, seems intent on expanding the number of people in Southwest Florida who consider this festival their own.

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