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SFF 2013: 10 Don't-Miss Films

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  • Sarasota Film Festival logo

    All screenings are at Regal Cinemas Hollywood 20, 1993 Main St., Sarasota unless otherwise noted; regular priced tickets are $12.50; 364-9514; sarasotafilmfestival.com  

    Sarasota Film Festival

    Starting Friday, the 15th annual Sarasota Film Festival will screen more than 220 movies over 10 days which means everyone is again asking the same question: Which films are worth seeing? Sure, you can stick with SFF’s opening, closing, centerpiece and spotlight films and probably have a wonderful time. But those movies, at least to a certain degree, are chosen because a star or director has agreed to make an appearance in Sarasota. The safest way to select films is to do your homework. And by homework, that means learning which movies have already created a buzz at the big four: Cannes, Sundance, Toronto and South by Southwest (SXSW) film festivals. But look, we did the homework for you. Here’s our picks for 10 best bets – narrative and documentary – at the SFF. --By Wade Tatangelo, Herald-Tribune

  • LaurenceAnyways

    2:15 p.m. April 13; 5 p.m. April 14.

    'Laurence Anyways'

    Winner of a dozen awards on the festival circuit including Best Actress for Suzanne Clement at Cannes and Best Canadian Feature Film in Toronto, the third feature by Xavier Dolan finds a scholar named Laurence in a loving relationship with Fred, the character played by Clément, when he announces his desire to live as a transsexual. The highly stylized movie follows Laurence and Fred’s life together as they confront prejudice and grapple to find the same happiness sought by pretty much every couple that has ever walked the planet. In French with English subtitles.

  • sff the angel's share

    7:15 April 8; 7 p.m. April 9

    'The Angels' Share'

    The Jury Prize winner at Cannes and the latest by the great English filmmaker Ken Loach (“Sweet Sixteen,” “My Name is Joe”) is a poignant comedy about a Glasgow man looking for a way out of his criminal past through the one beverage loved by all self-respecting Scottish men, fine malt whiskey. Loach has been known to make some critically-acclaimed leftist yawners in the past. Not this one. It’s by all accounts a tremendous crowd pleaser in addition to be a rich artistic success.

  • sff the spectacular now

    7:30 p.m. April 11; $20.

    'The Spectacular Now'

    Perhaps the greatest high school romance to appear in theaters since John Hughes’ heyday, this SFF centerpiece film boasting an appearance by director James Ponsoldt won a Special Jury Prize at Sundance “for two young actors who showed rare honesty, naturalism and transparency and whose performances brought up the best in each other.”

  • sff the hunt

    5 p.m. April 12; 11:45 a.m. April 13.

    'The Hunt'

    Winner of nine awards on the festival circuit and nominated for the prestigious Palme d'Orat at Cannes, this psychological thriller is about a small town teacher played by Mads Mikkelsen, in a role that won him the best actor award at Cannes, who’s wrongly accused of a horrible crime. In Danish with English subtitles.

  • sff computer chess

    9 p.m. April 12; 12:30 p.m. April 14.

    'Computer Chess'

    The festival's 2013 Terry Porter Visionary Award, Andrew Bujalski's latest won a prize as the best feature to focus on science or technology at Sundance. It’s a comedy, set in the 1980s and smartly shot in black and white on period video equipment, about computer programmers competing in an electronic chess tournament pitting machine against machine back when most people could barely figure out how to turn on a computer.

  • SFF BLACKFISH

    7 p.m. Friday at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, 777 N. Tamiami Trail. $25, $75 (party), $125 (VIP).

    'Blackfish'

    Opening the festival is this provocative killer whale documentary that was nominated for a Grand Jury Prize at Sundance. Several former Sea World whale trainers will participate in a post-screening Q&A along with the film’s director Gabriela Cowperthwaite.

  • sff in the house

    In French with English subtitles. 7:30 p.m. April 9; 5:15 April 10.

    'In the House'

    An International Critics' Award winner in Toronto, this mystery-thriller finds the writing life heating up when a sixteen-year-old boy worms his way into the house of a fellow student and writes about it in weekly essays for his French teacher who, perhaps foolishly, shares them with his wife.

  • SFF_Martin_Bonner

    6 p.m. April 11; 5 p.m. April 12.

    'This Is Martin Bonner'

    An audience award winner at Sundance, this drama is about fifty-something Martin Bonner (Paul Eenhorn) leaving his old life behind, living alone and forming an unlikely friendship. That is, when he’s not busy speed dating.

  • sff crash reel

    8 p.m. April 13; 2:15 p.m. April 14.

    'Crash Reel'

    Director Lucy Walker created a buzz at SXSW last month by taking filmgoers on a breathtaking, cinema verite ride through the life of champion snowboarder Kevin Pearce and his rivalry with Shaun White.

  • SFF_TwentyFeetfromStardom

    7:45 p.m. April 13

    'Twenty Feet from Stardom'

    Another documentary nominated for a Grand Jury Prize at Sundance, this one spotlights the superb, largely unknown backup singers who have sweetened many of the greatest pop and rock recordings of all time. In addition to gripping performances, there are interviews with the likes of Mick Jagger, Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Wonder and Sting, whose daughter Mickey Sumner will be at the festival to receive the Breakthrough Performer Award.

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