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Altman Joins Throng of Talented Honorees at Sarasota

ROBERT ALTMAN And A PRAIRIE HOME COMPANION To Be Saluted At the 8th Annual Sarasota Film Festival: March 31 – April 9, 2006

Altman Joins Throng of Talented Honorees Including Werner Herzog, Felicity Huffman, Allison Janney, William H. Macy, Robert Towne, Paula Wagner

Honorary Academy Award® recipient Robert Altman will be Saluted at the Sarasota Film Festival during the final weekend of the 8th annual event where his latest film, the Picturehouse release of Garrison Keillor’s A PRAIRIE HOME COMPANION, will be presented as the Closing Night Film.

“We are so honored to have Robert Altman join us in Sarasota for our Closing Night presentation,” said SFF Executive Director Jody Kielbasa. “The Festival, and the Sarasota community, are thrilled to host the incredibly talented Mr. Altman, who so deservedly received The Honorary Academy Award®, to honor ‘a career that has repeatedly reinvented the art form and inspired filmmakers and audiences alike.’ We couldn’t agree more with the Academy.”

He will be on hand to put the finishing touch on what will surely be 10 delicious days of flickering lights, fantastic dreams, tall tales, romance, reel life, fabulous parties, rock ‘n roll, educational journeys and so much more that will kick-off its Opening Night with Chevy Chase, Penelope Ann Miller, Christopher McDonald, Director Leslie Greif and their film, FUNNY MONEY. The screening will be followed by a luminescent gala at the world renowned John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art.

Mr. Altman will be featured at the SFF’s annual Filmmakers Tribute Dinner, where the Festival pays tribute to its filmmaker Honorees and Award Winners, including the distinguished recipient of the Regal Entertainment Group’s Career Achievement Award. This year’s Honoree is a great friend of the Sarasota Film Festival, a Golden Globe and EMMY Award winner, Academy Award® nominee, and incredibly talented Producer/Writer/Actor/Director, William H. Macy. Previous honorees of the Regal Entertainment Group’s Career Achievement Award include Jon Voigt, Alan Alda, Sydney Pollack, Richard Dreyfuss, Robert Benton and Leslie Caron. In addition to Mssrs. Altman and Macy, other talented filmmakers to be honored that evening are Excellence in Producing Award recipient Paula Wagner, Director and Screenwriter Robert Towne, who will be presented with the Excellence in Filmmaking Award and Academy Award® nominated Actress Felicity Huffman, being honored with our Breakthrough Performer Award.

Throughout the exciting 10 days, the Festival will present the programs and events that have become favorites of the community as well as critical successes throughout the film industry. Among them are the Women’s Voices Film Screenings, a program of films by, for and about women; and An Evening With…, an intimate film screening and conversation from amongst the Festival’s distinguished artists. At the 2006 event, there will be two Evenings With…: filmmaker, writer, and opera director, Werner Herzog, whose non-fiction films will be screened throughout the festival, and one of America’s most prominent art photographers working today, Tina Barney. Festival audiences will also be treated to World Cinema Film Screenings and the World Cinema Celebration, a day devoted to films from around the world, capped the presentation of the World Cinema Master Award to Werner Herzog and a wild street party featuring food and music from around the globe. Luncheon Under The Banyans at the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens is an elegant luncheon honoring the life and work of a special Festival guest. This year’s honoree is EMMY and SAG winner, Allison Janney who will be joined by castmates Jason Ritter and Mary Badham to receive the Ensemble Acting Award for the film OUR VERY OWN; Night Of A Thousand Stars, Dance, guests will dine and mingle with the stars and guest filmmakers from the evenings Spotlight Films. Among this year’s guests will be Felicity Huffman from TRANSAMERICA; William H. Macy from EDMOND; Michael Traeger & Joe Pantoliano from THE AMATEURS; and Mary Harron from THE NOTORIOUS BETTIE PAGE. In honor of that film, burlesque will be the theme of the night, complete with stars from Los Angeles’ top burlesque club, the 40 Deuce Club. And following the Closing Night’s Tribute Dinner, the Festival will host its Late Night Wrap Party. Loosen your tie, let down your hair and be prepared for anything at this event with a special performance from The Brazilian Girls. This party brings the 2006 Festival to a close in the wee hours.

Among the many great filmmakers and special guests expected in for the Festival are Robert Altman, Mary Badham, Tina Barney, Chevy Chase, Jonathan Caouette, Michael Cuesta, Raymond De Felitta, Mary Harron, Werner Herzog, Felicity Huffman, Allison Janney, Sally Kellerman, Kiki & Herb, William H. Macy, Christopher McDonald, Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, Penelope Ann Miller, Rick Nicita, Joe Pantoliano, Jeremy Renner, Jason Ritter, Susan Seidelman, Gene Simmons, Robert Towne, Michael Traeger and Paula Wagner, with more to come.

This year’s feature films and documentaries represent the works of filmmakers from 19 countries including Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Iran, Iraq, Italy, Japan, Portugal, Romania, South Korea, Spain, UK and the USA. The program encompasses 3 World Premieres, 2 US Premieres, 9 East Coast Premieres, 13 Southeast Premieres and 5 Florida Premieres.

The Sarasota Film Festival presents Audience Awards as well as three competition categories, Best Narrative Feature, Best Documentary Feature, and Independent Visions, each of which showcases some of the finest films in the festival.

The 2006 Sarasota Film Festival Narrative Feature Competition features a cash award of $5,000, and will be selected from amongst the following films: Sturla Gunnarsson’s BEOWULF & GRENDEL (Canada/Iceland/UK); THE DEATH OF MR. LAZARESCU (Romania, Florida Premiere, a Tartan Films release) from Director Cristi Puiu; Hiner Saleem’s KILOMÈTRE ZÉRO (France/Iraq/France); Abel Ferrara’s MARY (Italy/France/USA); Kelly Reichardt’s OLD JOY (USA); Cate Shortland’s SOMERSAULT (Australia, a Magnolia Pictures release); and Michael Cuesta’s TWELVE AND HOLDING (USA, East Coast Premiere, an IFC Films release). The Jurors for the Narrative Feature Competition include Picturehouse Executive Vice President Marian Koltai-Levine, Entertainment Weekly film critic Lisa Schwarzbaum, York Times journalist Stephanie Zacharek.

The Best Documentary Feature Competition also features a cash award of $5,000, and includes 51 BIRCH STREET (USA) from Doug Block; AMERICAN BLACKOUT (USA), from Director Ian Inaba, with Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney attending; Gary Tarn’s BLACK SUN (UK); Peter Richardson’s CLEAR CUT: THE STORY OF PHILOMATH, OR (USA); HULDUFÓLK 102 (USA/Iceland), from Nisha Inalsingh; John Hyams’ Rank (USA, US Premiere, an IFC Films release); and Steven Cantor’s WHAT REMAINS (USA). The Jurors for the Best Documentary Feature Competition include indieWIRE journalist Brian Brooks, Filmmaker Jonathan Caouette, Producer Randy Finch, VP of Acquisitions & Distribution at Wellspring Marie Therese Guigis.

The Sarasota Film Festival salutes the filmmakers and artists working outside the mainstream with the second year’s presentation of a series of movies and events called Independent Visions, a program of unique films that challenge the status quo, celebrate the true spirit of creativity and offer a fresh perspective on filmmaking.

The 2006 SFF Independent Visions Competition, featuring a cash prize award of $5,000, includes Michael Tully’s COCAINE ANGEL (USA, East Coast Premiere); Erica Dunton’s FIND LOVE (USA); Todd Rohal’s THE GUATEMALAN HANDSHAKE (USA); Cameron Watson’s OUR VERY OWN (USA); SOMEBODIES (USA), Directed by, and starring, Hadji; Ali Selim’s SWEET LAND (USA); Robert Connolly’s THREE DOLLARS (Australia, Southeast Premiere, an Outsider Pictures release); and Cam Archer’s WILD TIGERS I HAVE KNOWN (USA, Southeast Premiere). The Independent Visions Competition Jury includes Submarine’s Josh Braun, IFC Films VP of Acquisitions Sarah Lash, Screenwriter and Film Threat Magazine Editor Chris Gore.

Among other film highlights are: Narrative Features including Terry Zwigoff’s ART SCHOOL CONFIDENTIAL (USA, a Sony Pictures Classics release); Susan Seidelman’s BOYNTON BEACH CLUB (USA) with Susan and Sally Kellerman attending; Claude Chabrol’s THE BRIDESMAID (France, US Premiere, a First Run Features release); Mora Stephens’ Spirit Award-winning CONVENTIONEERS (USA); Pierre Morel’s DISTRICT B13 (France, East Coast Premiere, a Magnolia Pictures release); David Jacobson’s DOWN IN THE VALLEY (USA, a THINKFilms release); Patrice Chéreau’s GABRIELLE (Germany/France, a Wellspring release); Yoji Yamada’s THE HIDDEN BLADE (Japan, Southeast Premiere, a Tartan Films release); Alex Karpovsky’s THE HOLE STORY (USA, Southeast Premiere); Mohammad Rassoulof’s IRON ISLAND (Iran, Southeast Premiere, a Kino International release); James Marsh’s THE KING (USA/UK, a THINKFilms release); Julian Jarrold’s KINKY BOOTS (UK, a Miramax release); Chan-wook Park’s LADY VENGEANCE (South Korea, Southeast Premiere, a Tartan Films release); Steve Buscemi’s LONESOME JIM (USA, East Coast Premiere, an IFC Films release); Sarah Watt’s LOOK BOTH WAYS (Australia, a Kino International release); Paul McGuigan’s LUCKY NUMBER SLEVIN (USA, a Weinstein Company release); Hao Ning’s MONGOLIAN PING PONG (China, Southeast Premiere, a First Run Features release); The Brothers Quay THE PIANO TUNER OF EARTHQUAKES (France/Germany, a Zeitgeist release); Laurent Cantet’s VERS LE SUD (Canada/France, Southeast Premiere); Goran Dukic’s WRISTCUTTERS: A LOVE STORY (USA) starring Patrick Fugit who’ll be attending.

Documentary Features highlights include Andrew Jenks’ ANDREW JENKS, ROOM 335 (USA, East Coast Premiere); Andrew Shapter’s BEFORE THE MUSIC DIES (USA, East Coast Premiere); Caanan Brumly’s EARS, OPEN. EYEBALLS, CLICK (USA, Florida Premiere); Lisa Ades and Lesli Klainberg’s FABULOUS! THE STORY OF QUEER CINEMA (USA, US Festival Premiere, an IFC release); Dominic J. DeJoseph’s JOHNNY BERLIN (USA, Southeast Premiere); Chris Gallagher and Matt Gallagher’s KIKI AND HERB RELOADED (USA, East Coast Premiere), Kiki and Herb will be performing at the Independent Visions event; Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert’s A LION IN THE HOUSE (USA), All proceeds from The Sarasota Film Festival’s screenings of A Lion In The House will benefit charity and the medical expenses of filmmaker Julia Reichert; Eric Simonsen’s Academy Award® winning film A NOTE OF TRIUMPH: THE GOLDEN AGE OF NORMAN CORWIN (USA); Alex Hinton’s PICK UP THE MIC (USA), Aggracyst, JenRo, Juba Kalamka, Katastrophe from Pick Up The Mic will be performing at the Independent Visions event; Raymond De Felitta’s ‘TIS AUTUMN (USA); Peter Rosen’s WHO GETS TO CALL IT ART? (USA, a Palm Pictures release); Patrick Creadon’s WORDPLAY (USA, an IFC Films release).

The Sarasota Film Festival prides itself on an ever expanding Outreach And Education Program that reaches thousands of young people in the region as well engaging the Sarasota community year round. Developed to create new experiences beyond the film screenings, the educational series features direct interaction with filmmakers, hands-on-technical experience, interdisciplinary classroom coursework that links film to the curriculum, and exposure to dynamic film content. Part of the program allows the public free access to meet filmmakers, such as the The Conversation Series at Mattison’s. An enormous part of the education and outreach program involves children of all ages through KidsFest. This includes: Kids Trip where students from area classrooms travel behind-the-scenes to experience the inner-workings of the festival; Kids Jury which enables a panel of young cineastes to watch and critique films and present the award for Best Short Family Film; Filmmakers In The Classroom allows visiting filmmakers to lead discussions with students in area classrooms. Last year we were honored to receive a $20,000 grant from the Academy Foundation of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in recognition of our Outreach and Education programs. Through the Sarasota Film Festival’s Outreach and Education Department approximately 9,000 students from over 10 counties participate in various programs that offer insight into the exciting world of film.

The Conversation Series: With coffee or cocktail in hand (depending on the panel time of day which should be checked on the schedule), enjoy moderated discussions in a casual atmosphere featuring guest panelists and filmmakers. Explore art, film, politics, and culture in these intriguing dialogues hosted by Mattison's in beautiful downtown Sarasota. Coffee and Conversation: ESTABLISHING SHOTS, Start the first day of film screenings with guest filmmakers visiting from all over the world. Directors, actors and producers will discuss what brought them to the festival, what their film entails and what the future holds. Coffee and Conversation: SHORT CUTS, Learn how a short film can be a vital stepping stone in a filmmaker’s career. Hear from filmmakers featured in the “Festival of Shorts” how artistic vision can be mastered in a short filmmaking venture and how you can do it too. Cocktails and Conversation: SCRIPT REDUX, Talk with gifted screenwriters and industry guests about what makes a script unique, plus what major trends are influencing production companies in the acquisition process. This seminar is supported by the Festival’s Screenwriters’ Circle. Cocktails and Conversation: WOMEN & WINE, The popular social mixer and panel featuring women filmmakers and women winemakers returns! Listen as they share their powerful journeys and discover how both industries are constantly changing with their influence and insight. Coffee and Conversations: QUEER CINEMA NOW, Featuring guests from FABULOUS: THE STORY OF QUEER CINEMA, and other panelists, this thought provoking panel will answer such questions as, What is the state of films featuring gay, lesbian and bi-sexual male and female characters? What are the unique desires and challenges of producing these films in this evolving genre of filmmaking?

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