Opening Night Film – April 30th

If you can make it to the in-person Opening Night screening, we invite you to come and hang out on the red carpet with SFF fans, get a drink at the beautiful CineBistro bar, and enjoy a meal as you lounge in a luxurious armchair and watch our Opening Film, which is a look at the life and work of Rita Moreno from her humble beginnings in Puerto Rico to her success on Broadway and in Hollywood.

Buy SFF 2021 tickets now!

Entering our 23rd year this year, The Sarasota Film Festival will take place both in-person and virtually this year, from April 30th through May 9th. Our in-person screenings take place at the beautiful CMX CinéBistro Siesta Key while a program of over a 100 amazing films will be available online.

The Opening Night film this year will be the hit documentary RITA MORENO: JUST A GIRL WHO DECIDED TO GO FOR IT and the Closing Night film will be DREAM HORSE, starring Toni Collette. The festival will include spotlight screenings of Maria Sødahl’s HOPE, Carlos Lopez Estrada’s SUMMERTIME and Viridiana Lieberman’s BORN TO PLAY. We will be showcasing a Centerpiece Screening of the Academy Award nominated documentary MY OCTOPUS TEACHER with a panel on environmental issues with local experts to follow.

In addition to the complete lineup of films, SFF is also featuring educational programs that include PARALLEL UNIVERSES CONTEST, HOLLYWOOD NIGHTS Young Filmmaker Showcase, and the pilot THE GROWING GARDEN.

The Sarasota Film Festival greatly appreciates the support of its corporate sponsors, including The Famiglio Family, Sack Family, Wallack Family Fund, Amicus Foundation, CMX CinéBistro, Embassy Suites by Hilton, Stella Artois, Tito’s Handmade Vodka, WSLR, Netwurx, Jewish Federation, Family Beautiful, Sarasota Scene Magazine, Intermedia Productions, Sande Caplin & Associates, SMAA, iHeart Media, SarasotaOUT, Top 10 Sarasota, SNN, METV, and Sage. The festival is sponsored in part by the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs and the Florida Council on Arts and Culture as well as the Sarasota County Tourism Development Tax Revenues.


Watch Sarasota Native American Film Festival 2021 Now

The Sarasota Film Festival is proud to present the 2021 Sarasota Native American Film Festival, showing virtually from March 19th-28th, 2021. This FREE virtual festival showcases 20+ films that speak to the Native American/Indigenous Peoples experience in America. The festival includes the World Premiere of the feature documentary “Finding Angola: Manatee’s County First Black Community,” directed by Charles Clapsaddle, and a retrospective of films from the First Nations Mi’kmaq filmmaker Catherine Anne Martin, including the World Premiere of her new feature documentary “The Basket Maker.” Among other programming highlights are films by the noted Seminole/Muskogee director Sterlin Harjo, short films by emerging indigenous filmmakers, and music videos. The festival also showcases “Smoke Signals,” the seminal 1998 road-trip dramedy directed by Chris Eyre, as well as “Songs My Brother Taught Me,” the debut feature from the celebrated, Academy Award-nominated director Chloe Zhao. Please also check out our Live Streams that feature Q&As with the filmmakers behind the films, and panels that speak to the Indigenous Peoples experience.

The festival is presented by the Sarasota Film Festival with support from the Boxser Diversity Initiative, in collaboration with the Native Reel Cinema Festival, the Stranahan House Museum, and the Ah-Tah-Thi- Ki Museum of Seminole Culture and History. The event is free and open to the public to watch.


Sarasota Film Festival 2021

The Sarasota Film Festival 2021 takes place from April 30th till May 9th in beautiful Sarasota, Florida. This year, conscious of Covid-safety, the festival will be presented in a hybrid format, with a mix of outdoor screenings, virtual cinema, celebrity conversations, limited parties, and some indoor film events.

Watch Visions of the Black Experience 2020 Now

The Sarasota Film Festival is proud to present the 2020 Visions of the Black Experience Film Series, showing virtually from November 12th-22nd, 2020. The series celebrates and illuminates the historical, social, and cultural aspects of Black life through film. The feature program includes a Chadwick Boseman retrospective, with the films 42 and GET ON UP, locally-made films THROUGH THE TUNNEL, INTO THE STORM, SINCERELY, THE BLACK KIDS, and 9/11 KIDS, acclaimed festival selections PAHOKEE and AMERICAN TRIAL: THE STORY OF ERIC GARNER, and many more.

The program offers a unique selection of documentaries, narrative films, and shorts, as well as new works by emerging filmmakers. Themes in this year’s programming include films by and for youth and young adults, Black health and healthcare. With recent resources developed by the virtual Sarasota Film Festival, this year’s online format will allow the Visions film series to engage audiences locally and around the world, and also showcase the diverse and creative Sarasota community globally.

Live Q&A’s with filmmakers, panel discussions, and educational opportunities will offer a deeper exploration of the themes of the series. The panel discussions will highlight important initiatives including Project Black Cinema, Healthcare in the Black Community, and Young Black Voices in Filmmaking. The event will also feature the culmination of the Covid-19 student PSA contest.

“The Sarasota Film Festival received wonderful feedback from the inaugural edition of the series and are thrilled to bring back Visions of the Black Experience and continue engaging our audiences with conversations surrounding the themes in this year’s programming,” said Mark Famiglio, Co-Founder and President of the Sarasota Film Festival, one of the collaborators for the series this year. “We are pleased to work with the community including the Honorable Charles Williams and many wonderful educational institutions to support Booker with this groundbreaking series. It is a pleasure and a delight to band together to bring these important educational experiences to the community.”

The series is a collaboration involving the Sarasota Film Festival, New College of Florida, the Boxser Diversity Initiative, the Ringling Museum, the Multicultural Health Institute, and the Manasota ASALH, the Association for the Study of African American Life and History. Funding for Visions of the Black Experience has been provided by the lead sponsor Community Foundation of Sarasota County, with additional financial support from the Charles and Margery Barancik Foundation, New College of Florida Foundation, and the Boxser Diversity Initiative.

The generosity of the Visions sponsors will also fund a major gift to benefit the Film & Animation program in Booker High School’s Visual and Performing Arts magnet, whose student-produced documentary feature INTO THE STORY will be featured in the series. In addition, Visions has partnered with several local high schools to bring INTO THE STORM into the classroom, along with live discussions with the filmmakers and individuals featured in this civil rights story of the 1960s.

The series is free, with registration required at the Visions of the Black Experience website. The films are available on the website and through the Sarasota Film Festival app (on mobile and Apple TV).



The Sarasota Film Festival announced today that the 23rd annual edition of the festival will take place April 30th – May 9th, 2021. The festival is now accepting submissions for next year. 

Held annually in Sarasota, Florida, the Sarasota Film Festival emphasizes the best in cinema alongside exciting programs and events, with more than 200 films screened each year including features, documentaries, shorts, and kid-friendly picks. Entering its 23rd year, the festival brings the best new and established independent filmmakers to the Festival with local and kid-friendly programs that showcase its idyllic Gulf Coast community. The festival is a 501(c)(3), non-profit organization and also offers a year-round educational program, which reaches thousands of local students through classic film showcases, film contests, summer camps and instructional workshops.


Sarasota Film Festival Online

In response to popular demand from the Sarasota community and audiences across the country and around the globe for continued arts and storytelling, the 2020 virtual edition of the Sarasota Film Festival (SFF) has now extended its online edition to Sunday, May 10th. In conjunction with this extension, the festival has announced an additional feature film to the lineup 9/11 KIDS directed by Elizabeth St. Philip, Q&As for the upcoming weekend, and more visionary programming.

“The public has spoken and in an effort to continue providing dynamic and thoughtful entertainment, we are pleased to extend our programming for an additional week so that audiences can continue to enjoy these engaging films and celebrate independent storytellers that showcase the local Florida community,” said Mark Famiglio, Chairman and President of the Sarasota Film Festival.

SFF is presented with the generous support of various sponsors and partners from the Sarasota community including: The Famiglio Family, Amicus Foundation, 332 Cocoanut, Moon & Co Eyewear, Sage Restaurant, The Sack Family, Wallack Family Fund, Sarasota County Film & Entertainment Office, New College, Ringling College, Gates Construction, DSDG architects, BMW/Lamborghini of Sarasota, Embassy Suites-Hilton as well as granting organization Sarasota County Tourist Development Cultural/Arts and the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs.

EXTENDED DATE | SFF will now run through Sunday, May 10th, 2020.

UPDATED PROGRAMMING | A list of updated programming for the festival including an additional feature film, filmmaker Q&A’s, and updated educational programming listed below.

Additional Feature Film Announced

9/11 KIDS | Directed by: Elizabeth St. Philip

Summary : The President of the United States wasn’t in Washington DC on September 11, 2001. He was in a classroom in Sarasota, at the Emma E. Booker Elementary School. George W. Bush received the news of the 9/11 attacks in a room full of 2nd grade students from Newtown and Bayou Oaks, two of Sarasota’s historically black neighborhoods. This documentary catches up with those students, nearly two decades later, and delves into the realities of black and brown life since the dawn of the 21st Century. The film is produced by Saloon Media, a Blue Ant Studios company.


The festival will present the following Q&A’s and filmmaker panel this upcoming weekend, available to the public for free :

Saturday, May 2

12:00PM – RUTH WEISS, THE BEAT GODDESS Filmmaker Q&A with Director Melody C. Miller
6:00PM – MICROPLASTIC MADNESS Filmmaker Q&A with Directors Atsuko Quirk, Debby Lee Cohen

Sunday, May 3

12:00PM – Sarasota Filmmaker Panel

Panelists to Include:

Kathryn Parks (Director, HER PLACE), Parker Alexander Meyers (Director, AND-1139), Sage Hall (Director, PIE CAR)

2:00PM – AMERICAN TRIAL: THE ERIC GARNER STORY Filmmaker Q&A with Director Roee Messinger
4:00PM – EROTIC FIRE OF THE UNATTAINABLE Filmmaker Q&A with Director Frank Vitale
For an updated slate of the Sarasota Film Festival’s virtual edition, please visit

Additional Educational Programming

The festival has added 5 additional films to youth program Hollywood Nights, featuring the work of local filmmakers from Booker High school, Riverview High school and the Sarasota Military Academy, available to the public for free . The judges for the Hollywood Nights Young Filmmaker Showcase will be Sarasota Judge Charles Williams, MTV’s “Siesta Key” Producer Gary Kompothecras, and SFF Creative Producer and Critic Joe Neumaier, with the winners announced next week.

Next weekend, the premiere of Chapter 1 of the World’s Largest Zombie Movie, with over 350 participants from 15 countries.

FOR TICKETS, FILMS, & ADDITIONAL INFORMATION | Tickets can be purchased along with Q&A’s and films viewed through the Sarasota Film Festival app available for download in the app store or the Film Festival website . An all-access pass for all films in the program costs $30, with each film or each shorts program costing $3.99 and educational programming free to audiences.

ABOUT SARASOTA FILM FESTIVAL | Held annually in Sarasota, Florida, the Sarasota Film Festival emphasizes the best in cinema alongside exciting programs and events, with more than 200 films screened each year including features, documentaries, shorts, and kid-friendly picks. Entering our 22nd year, we’re proud to bring the best new and established independent filmmakers to our Festival with local and kid-friendly programs that showcase our idyllic Gulf Coast community. The festival is a 501(c)(3), non-profit organization and also offers a year-round educational program, which reaches thousands of local students through classic film showcases, film contests, summer camps and instructional workshops.

Bess Donoghue |
Courtney Turner |

Sarasota Film Festival Releases The Vision of Film In Their 2020 Poster

SFF 2020 Poster

“As the film industry matures over the last many years, it becomes increasingly important that we recognize the vision and spirit of filmmakers who have allowed us to better understand our own lives and the global condition with more clarity,” said Chairman and Co-Founder of the Festival Mark Famiglio. “This year the SFF vision poster represents the simplicity of text and yet underscores the complexity of our social dynamics and communication within the U.S.  and around the world, demonstrating various and many dimensions to this poster just has there are many dimensions to a seemingly simple film.”

Festival Chairman and Co-Founder Mark Famiglio
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