Organizers believe the Sarasota Film Festival this year was the first major festival in the country to include 100 feature films directed by female filmmakers. The milestone adds to the reputation of the festival, which already partners with the U.S. National Committee for United Nations Women to include women directors in the Through Women’s Eyes Festival and that has for the last several years held the Side by Side Symposium to encourage relationships among women in the industry.
“It’s the unintended consequence of doing things the right way,” said Sarasota Film Festival President Mark Famiglio.
Famiglio stressed the festival didn’t set after any record with female programming but simply strived for an appropriately diverse roster of movies to be screened this year. “As long as you pick the best films, many of them will come from women directors.”
Famiglio said the 10-day festival, which concluded Sunday, was larger than past events by an order of magnitude. He was especially proud of an inaugural Screenwriters Colony event hosted at the festival. In it, selected participants worked with accomplished mentors on the craft of writing for television. The event this year, an offshoot of a month-long event organized by the Nantucket Film Festival for film screenwriters, lasted four days, and Famiglio said it will almost certainly expand next year.
“Some of the most respected people in the industry are looking to Sarasota to be at the vanguard of independent film, and whatever develops from that in the future,” he said.