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Sarasota film fans celebrate Oscars at Burns Court

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Crowd enjoys appetizers, beer and wine at Sarasota Film Society's Oscars party at Burns Court Cinemas. Gus Mollasis, pictured center in the black suit, hosted the event Sunday, Feb. 24, 2013. Photo by Wade Tatangelo

(See also a photo gallery of the Academy Awards red carpet and coverage of Oscar winners.)

For the serious cinema enthusiasts who populate the Sarasota Film Society, there’s only one way to properly watch a motion picture:

On the big screen.

During the past year these cineastes thronged the film society’s Burns Court and Lakewood Cinemas to cheer for the young girl in “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” have their heartstrings tugged by the elderly couple in “Amour” and enjoy an adrenaline rush during the thriller “Argo.”

They shared laughs while viewing the romantic comedy-drama “Silver Linings Playbook.”

On Sunday, these aficionados of the silver screen returned to the Sarasota Film Society’s two movie houses to walk a little red carpet of their own before watching the 85th annual Academy Awards broadcast on, yes, the big screen.

Gus Mollasis, a local filmmaker and movie maven, hosted the Oscars party and emceed the trivia game at Burns Court where the previously mentioned Best Picture nominees have all enjoyed successful runs. About 100 people, dressed to impress, attended the event.

“It’s a great place for people to get together, do the red carpet, and watch the Oscars at the same venue where they saw the movies,” Mollasis said. “Just like watching a movie, it’s always better when you are in a room experiencing it with other people.”

Burns Court Cinemas regular Jean Ruff brought her friend, newbie Ann Greenwood, also a Sarasota resident, to check out the downtown theater and have some Oscars-themed fun.

“We decided we would get dressed up and just be part of the red carpet event,” Ruff said in between sips of red wine. “It’s great to be able to see everything on the big screen.”

Greenwood added, “I’ll definitely be back. It’s wonderful here.”

The party, which cost film society members $20 ($25 for nonmembers) included an open beer, wine and soft drink bar as well as hors d'oeuvres. Caragiulos, Drunken Poet Café and Salvatore’s Italian Kitchen/Sal’s Southern Grill donated food for the soiree at Burns Court.

Sheri and Jack Ruttle, who split their time between Toronto and Sarasota, noshed on some chicken at an outside table before entering the theater at 8 p.m. for the start of trivia. Sunday marked the married couple’s second Academy Awards party at Burns Court.

“It’s a fun way to be among other people with the same interest in film and cheer for the winners,” Sheri said. “We just love the atmosphere here.”

Kenney DeCamp, a Sarasota Film Society member and president of the Friends of Selby Public Library, has been a longtime attendee of the Oscars party at Burns Court. This year, he was able to get his significant other and Chicago resident Lena Falco, down just in time to join him for the event. His favorite part of the event?

The erudite and entertaining host.

“Gus Mollasis is just great,” De Camp said. “He’s incredibly knowledgeable and funny. The perfect emcee.”

By about 8 p.m., the main theater at Burns Court Cinemas had filled up for the viewing party. While being interviewed on the red carpet, George Clooney was congratulated for matching Walt Disney’s record for Oscar nominations. The Sarasota audience shared a laugh when Clooney replied:

“I’m a trivia question now.”

Last modified: February 25, 2013
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