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The Scenestress has a Sarasota Film Festival weekend

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Opening Night Party for Sarasota Film Festival

Opening Night Party for Sarasota Film Festival

I can assure you I’m not a complete idiot, but I’m continually surprised when certain annual events pop up on the calendar. And the Sarasota Film Festival is one of them.

I didn’t pick out which movies I was going to see. I didn't look at any dates and times. And it’s no fault of the Film Fest’s marketing. In fact, I've had their catalog sitting on my desk for weeks.
So last Friday, I rearranged a few dinner plans so that I could take part in the opening night festivities.

Too late to snag a ticket to the opening film, “Last Days in Vietnam,” my date and I grabbed a pre-party drink and snack on the rooftop bar of eat here. (It’s sort of a cardinal rule of mine that I have to start my weekend off with a martini.) As we were devouring the bacon-pineapple-fig-blueberry pizza, I heard the voice of an angel. I turned around and noticed the bearded, mop-top of Matthew Frost at the piano. He’s definitely a white boy with soul, and we found ourselves as captivated by his vocals as we were by the pizza. Which is a compliment. It was a good pizza.

Around 9 p.m. we left the rooftop bar, Matthew Frost's $10 CD in hand, to make our way to the Van Wezel. We got to the Opening Night Party just in time for a massive set of fireworks. (I can only imagine how thrilled the bayfront condo owners were. “Is it July 4th already?”)

The party was packed and everybody was buzzing about the film, making us feel like complete losers for holding our “party only” tickets. The only thing that might’ve been worse would’ve been if we had pretended to see the movie.

Kudos to the Film Fest for booking an amazing band, with three front women who were belting out “Proud Mary” when we walked in. (I resisted the urge to bust into my Tina Turner backup dancer moves, much to my date’s relief.) Everybody was dancing, which is always a good sign.

We helped ourselves to some drinks before taking advantage of the outdoor bayfront terrace, spotting Sam Davidson and Maya Sullivan, Sam Stern and Roxanne Joffe, Tyler McCool and Emily Owen, and Rich Schineller and Sarah Fulton. After making the rounds and observing the pretty people, we stopped off at the grill for some complimentary sliders and truffle fries. They were so tasty that if my bag had been bigger, I would’ve stuffed a few in for the road.

I continued my Film Fest-inspired weekend by hitting Siesta Key Beach Saturday night for a free screening – on the beach, I might add – of “The Little Mermaid.” Now, amongst my circle of friends it is pretty widely know that “The Little Mermaid” is my jam. It was the first big Disney animated feature that came out during my lifetime, and as a kid I saw it multiple times in the movie theater. (I may or may not have sung “Part of Your World” in a 4th grade talent show. I will divulge nothing.)

So even though we don't have any kids to speak of, my best girlfriend and I hauled some beach chairs over to Siesta to take advantage of watching the underwater film on the water! It was a huge turnout for the event. I guess free things tend to do well, especially when children are involved. We got a fairly decent spot of sand and camped out among the hundreds of kids.

Once the movie started, it was the parents who couldn't stop singing along. By mid-movie, our section of the crowd was giving full-on vocals to the musical numbers. Watching one of my favorite childhood movies as the sun set over the beautiful crystal sand took me back to being a kid again. Well, almost.

Did I mention we brought a cooler?

Last modified: April 9, 2014
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