Could there be four tentpole films in this year’s Sarasota Film Festival line-up? It a very real possibility, according to festival director Tom Hall. “We may have two centerpiece films—a documentary and a fiction film—as well a Closing Night Film and Opening Night Film,” he said.
But whether a new centerpiece is added or not, it seems certain the film festival schedule will be larger than ever, Hall told SRQ Backlot in an interview earlier this week. “I’ve got films up to my eyeballs,” he said. “I’m very optimistic about what we have to select from this year.”
Playing a character with Alzheimer’s Disease can be a scary thing for an actor in his 70s. After all, being old enough to look the part means being in the demographic struck by the ailment. But Frank Langella said playing such a character in Robot and Frank doesn’t plague him too much. “I’m just wonder, where am I now? What town is this?,” he joked.
Langella is touring the festival circuit both for screenings of the acclaimed film and to sign his new Hollywood tell-all Dropping Names. Spoke with SRQ during a book signing at Bookstore1Sarasota and offered this insight into his work.
How do you feel the Sarasota audience responded to your film last night?
It was very thrilling. I’m very grateful for it. I think you guys were the exact right audience, a combination of people in my generation, their 70s and 50s, and then lots of kids and students. I don’t think anybody isn’t touched by a family member who is beginning to lose consciousness. It’s a very powerful subject.
What do hope this movie does for those with someone in their lives affected by Alzheimer’s?
I think it will make them feel like they are not alone in this trial. I remember what it was liking hearing Nancy Reagan describe what it was like watching the president fade away and how much her life had changed taking care of him, and she said ‘He would do it for me.’ I think that is kind of what you have to deal with when someone you love is getting ready to emotionally leave the planet.
Much to our excitement, we were able to connect with the star of last night’s film, Frank Langella, on what made this role unique compared to those of his past:
“I saw an opportunity to deal again with my own mortality now as I am in my 70s. I saw a chance to see if I could really relate to and hold on to the idea of playing up something that was not alive. I don’t like the word challenge, but there is no other word.”
Despite the challenge of interacting with an artificial co-star, Flangella conquered it with grace. He shared with us some wise words from his actor’s intuition:”If you’ve been acting long enough, you just know, there is a moment when the camera goes on and you believe what you are doing.”
Robot and Frank got an extremely warm welcome. At a question and answer session after the screening, Frank Langella informed viewers that his role almost went to Christopher Walken.
Director Jake Schreir said, in his best Walken voice, that Walken turned down the role because robots can’t go upstairs, something which happens a lot in the movie. Instead, Walken ended up taking an undisclosed role which Langella declined.
Now, the two stars have a competition as to which film does better. “I think I’m winning.”