Volunteer Spotlight: Gibby Free

Screen Shot 2017 02 14 at 4.33.26 PMLast year, Gibby Free and her little brother Renton came into the SFF offices to volunteer. They volunteered in the Hollywood 20 in the Theater department and were amazing. I recently received an email from Gibby.

Hi Marlene,

Long time no talk! I was just emailing to let you know that I was just accepted into my dream school: Northeastern University, with a Dean's Scholarship. I'm going to be moving up to Boston during the fall of 2017, and I'm beyond excited. The reason why I'm telling you this is because...I actually wrote my essay about the Sarasota Film Festival...

Please enjoy the essay and the interview of this talented young woman below. Thank you Gibby for sharing your essay with us and for all of your hard work. SFF and Northeastern are lucky to have you!

Describe a problem you've solved or a problem you'd like to solve. It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma-anything that is of personal importance, no matter the scale. Explain its significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution.

     One of the largest factors contributing to the social strife in this country is a generational divide. People born fifty years ago typically have radically different values compared to the values of people born twenty years ago. Even the most innocuous of interactions can turn sour when filtered through these differences of opinion.This is especially true in my hometown of Sarasota, Florida. Sarasota is nationally known for its senior population, with approximately 34% of citizens of the county being over the age of 65. The majority of the seniors who live here are retired, and the majority of the younger people who live here comprise the working class. Sarasota has been called 'Circus City' for its ties to the Ringling Brothers Circus, but a weekend stroll downtown showcases a different kind of circus entirely.

     As someone who is just a short bike ride away from downtown Sarasota, I have had plenty of opportunity to witness the social tensions in my town first-hand. Going to the movies, you have to hold your tongue as seniors snap at children who talk during trailers. Shopping at the grocery store, you have to listen to seniors berate their teen cashier for not honoring a two year old coupon.Walking across the street, you have feign remorse towards belligerent senior drivers who seem to think that they always have the right-of-way. I found it emotionally and morally trying to cope with these annoyances on a day-to-day basis. By the time I was fifteen years old, I fit the stereotype perfectly. I was a young person living in Sarasota who unapologetically resented old people.

     Entering into the Sarasota Film Festival as a teen volunteer, I didn't think that this mindset would be an issue. After all, I reasoned, what place do old people have in independent filmmaking? The moment I walked into the volunteer orientation, I realized that I had made a terrible miscalculation. More than half of the people in the room looked twice the age of my own parents. I began to think that I made a mistake by opting to volunteer for this event, and I wasn't looking forward to working shoulder-to-shoulder with a bunch of bigoted, entitled, callous old people. However, as the festival progressed, I learned that my impression was ill-formed. These individuals were funny, kind, and they shared wisdom with me that can only be obtained with "experience". I made numerous friends, and many of them had been volunteering for longer than I had been born.

     The time that I shared with my fellow volunteers showed me that commonality, forced or otherwise, is key to cooperation between different generations. In the months that followed the festival, I realized that this principle didn't just apply to relations between people of different ages. Even when I was interacting with kids who were my age, I was exercising more patience. Sure, maybe these teenagers in the public library are being inconsiderate and loud, but having an issue with someone's behavior doesn't justify having an issue with someone as a person, and it definitely doesn't justify developing a prejudice against that type of person.

     By establishing a common ground between myself and others, I'm able to have constructive dialogue that couldn't have existed otherwise. Through this dialogue, both sides are able to see a certain level of growth. Although I have had some less-than-pleasant encounters in this city, I am grateful for the experience and knowledge that living in Sarasota has given me. I have seen differences pull people together, and I have seen them violently tear people apart. During this next stage of my life, I know that I will run into individuals of profoundly different backgrounds from my own. I look forward to learning as much as I can from them, while also being content in knowing that I have the tools to bridge any gaps that may exist between us.



Congratulations on getting accepted to your dream school, Northeastern University! How do you feel? What are you most excited about with your next big chapter?

I'm both nervous and excited to start college in such a big city. It's going to be a big change, but I think I'll be able to handle it. I'm most excited to meeet new people and live in a new place. I've lived in Florida for most of my life, and so I'm basically jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire with this school. Northeastern is located right in the middle of the city, so I'm really going to be in the thick of it.  Boston is a huge city and there's always something to do, and it's very different from anywhere that I've lived before.

As you mentioned in your essay, by having constructive dialogue, both sides are able to see a certain level of growth. What advice do you have in accomplishing constructive dialogue?

I think that the most important thing is to make sure that it is actually a dialogue, meaning it's two-sided. It's important to listen just as much as you speak. That doesn't mean that you have to agree or even respect what the other person is saying, but I think it's really important to at least understand why some people think or act in the way that they do. Understanding is the first step toward making things better.

I'm glad the Volunteer Kick-Off didn't scare you away from volunteering last year. But I was slightly afraid that I would never see you and your brother again after making you two come early one morning for me to throw popcorn at your faces for the Volunteer video.  Are you coming back to volunteer before you move to Boston? If so, what are you looking forward to?

Both my brother and I are going to be coming back to volunteer this year! I won't be moving to Boston until the later summer or early fall. I'm looking forward to reconnecting with volunteers that I made friends with last year, as well as being able to welcome any first year volunteers. I'm also looking forward to being able to watch some of the movies being shown at the Festival this year!

Why is independent filmmaking important to you?

Independent filmmaking is important to me because independent films often tell stories that you just don't see in blockbusters. Although entertaining people is good, I think that there's something to be said for giving people a perspective that they may not have even thought about before. Independent film does a lot of things, but most of all I think that it is able to give a voice to the voiceless. It is able to take risks that films backed by major studios can't usually afford to take.

SFF Announces 2017 Campaign Posters in Collaboration with Ringling College of Art and Design

All 3 posters

Sarasota Film Festival has unveiled our brand new 2017 campaign artwork created by Tyler Mathis, a Motion Design student at Ringling College of Art and Design. This is our second year partnering with Ringling to develop a unique, eye-popping campaign to announce that our annual celebration of film is returning to downtown Sarasota!

This year's Festival will run March 31st - April 9th, and the theme is a multidimensional play on words: See & Be Seen, Sea & Be Seen, and See & Be Scene. For that reason, we are excited to share an artwork triptych, each of which capture the different iterations. Which one is your Festival?

The images selected will be featured on SFF banners throughout Main Street in Sarasota. They will also don all major festival materials such as merchandise, mailings, wall wraps, and ads.

“This year’s artwork not only represents the festival but the entire community of Sarasota,” said Mark Famiglio, President of the Sarasota Film Festival. “The slogan this year ‘See and Be Scene’ invites our audience to attend the festival and participate in our community. Collaborating with the Ringling College of Art and Design has proven once again that a community can create beautiful work by working together.”

Sign up for our email updates, and never miss a beat as we begin to announce the exciting events and films that will capture the town at the 2017 Sarasota Film Festival!

Volunteer Spotlight: Sue Schramm

Sue Schramm.jpg"As a life long educator, I am a strong supporter of the arts in schools and communities. The festival draws together individuals not only from Sarasota but across the globe. When we celebrate and nurture each other's creativity, talent, and diversity we are stronger as a community. I have seen first hand the excitement of our festival goers as they come to the box office to plan their movie schedules and purchase tickets. Many attend the festival each year. The conversations that take place are vibrant because of our love of film."

Where were you born and raised and what brought you to Sarasota?
My hometown is Perrysburg, Ohio, which is a suburb of Toledo. I still have a home there and work part time at the local Educational Service Center. We've had relatives and friends who have resided here since the 1960s and my father moved to Sarasota full time in 1990. After many years of visiting, my son and I grew to love this community, and I am looking forward to making this my year round home.
You were a Principal of a school. What was the hardest part of your job? What was the most rewarding?
I was an elementary principal for eighteen years in three different districts in Northwest Ohio. Specifically, one of the most challenging aspects of the job was going through a five-day strike in the early 1990s. Fortunately, I had a positive relationship with our staff and with my administrative colleagues. We were able to respectfully resume working together after the short-lived strike. I credit the dedication of our teachers in helping mend fences quickly for the sake of our students.
By far, the most rewarding aspect has been interacting with thousands of children throughout my career. I have always viewed by role as a surrogate mom for my students and find it so gratifying to follow their lives and careers with great pride. I had the wonderful experience of having my son in my building and of course, I'm extremely proud of him as he completes his doctoral work at the University of Washington where he works and teaches.
I have been very fortunate to get to know so many fantastic teachers, staff members, and parents over the years. One very special colleague mentored me my first year as a principal. She and I became best friends and still work together to this day, sharing an office and serving as professional development consultants together. How lucky is that?
You are planning a trip back to Paris this year. How was your experience the first time in the "City of Lights" and what do you hope to see and explore this second time around?
My son and I made a whirl-wind trip several years ago when we took the Eurostar from London to Paris for a day. Since studying French for four years, I had wanted to visit Paris and can't wait to return. On my second trip I hope to rent an apartment and spend a few weeks strolling the city, visiting the museums, and taking in the views that I have been reading about for many years. I want to experience Paris on a much deeper level. My dream is to return for a few weeks every couple of years.
How long have you been volunteering for the Sarasota Film Festival and which departments do you volunteer in?
This will be my fourth year volunteering for the festival. I volunteer at the pre-box office as well as at the front desk in the office on Cocoanut Avenue. In addition, this year I am having the pleasure of doing some volunteer tasks related to membership and marketing for John and Ali.
Complete the following sentence: I love volunteering because...
It is my opportunity to give back to our community and show gratitude for the good fortune I experience in my life. I love meeting people and helping them reach their goals and dreams.
Many years ago, my father was critically ill and hospitalized for several weeks in Sarasota. As it happened, the festival coincided with our stay. My sister, son, and I bought tickets during the film festival to see "The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming." That was a real gift for us. We had some time to escape from constant worry and to laugh. I made a promise to myself that when I was able to spend more time in Sarasota, I would volunteer for SFF. It meant that much to us.
Do you have any tips for new Volunteers in getting the most out of their Volunteer experience?
Enjoy each new experience you have and celebrate the opportunity to interact with the SFF staff. You will meet many interesting, creative people in our community. Every task completed by volunteers is important and appreciated. Our volunteer coordinator, Marlene, does a terrific job of organizing and motivating volunteers. Have fun and enjoy the passion!
Why is independent film important to you?
I love the uniqueness, ingenuity, varied subject matter, and thought provoking qualities of independent films. I applaud the creativity of artists to translate their story to film in a manner that overcomes many challenges. Independent film makers are persistent and passionate. Independent films have the potential to pique our thought, challenge our thinking, and become the impetus for change.
What was one of your favorite films growing up?
Our family enjoyed watching The Sound of Music together. My father was a very young man when he served in WWII so the theme and location of the movie were very meaningful to him. My parents loved the musical score of the film, and I remember my sister and I playing some of the songs on the piano and singing various songs in school choir and ensemble. It was definitely a favorite family movie for years.
Since you are traveling back to Paris, are there any French films you enjoy?
I love the movie Amelie. The scenery throughout Paris is a delight and Audrey Tautou is adorable. I can't help but smile!
What are you most excited about SFF for the 19th season?
I am of course looking forward to seeing many wonderful movies. I always buy a membership. It's a wonderful value and I'm sure to get tickets for the movies I absolutely don't want to miss. I thoroughly am enjoying renewing friendships with the SFF staff and look forward to meeting many festival goers at the box office. It's always a treat to say, "I remember you from last year. It's great to see you again!"

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