Eat Drink Film

Do you want to know how the films for this year’s festival were selected. Tom Hall sat down for an exclusive interview with SRQ’s Sara Stovall and shared the scoop. An excerpt of Stovall’s article appears below. Read the rest in the newest issue of SRQ magazine.

Tom Hall, 1,500 Films Later. Photo by Evan Sigmund

Between the months of September and February, Director Tom Hall and the modest staff of the Sarasota Film Festival watched well over 1,500 movies. They scoured the autumn festival circuit from Toronto to Sundance and sifted through more than 1,000 independent submissions, piecing together a program of the finest new films of the year despite the ever-pressing issue of the calendar.

“You have to be right in the sweet spot time-wise for all the films that you’re going to be showing,” Hall explains. “It’s even more difficult because you fall in love with movies you can’t have; you think the audience can really respond to work that’s being held for Oscar season later in the year—things like that. It becomes a real tightrope walk of getting people to make a decision about April.”

Mid-April isn’t a particularly cushy slot for throwing a film festival as filmmakers vie for high-profile premieres at South by Southwest in March, the illustrious Cannes Festival in May and the Tribeca Film Festival, which takes off right on the SFF’s tail. Despite staunch competition, the SFF dedicates itself to serving the community audience, which Hall praises as “a culture of risk-taking and artistic understanding.” Combined with an equal dedication to artistic rigor in all genres of film, the SFF staff creates a yearly celebration of cinematic art that’s noticed among the top regional festivals in the nation

If we can suggest a good April decision for you to make, it would be picking up the April issue of SRQ, which hits stands today, so you can read the full piece.


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