By Lily Oei/IFC News
Seven years in, the Sarasota Film Festival, which ran from January 28 through February 6, proves that even a regional festival will have something to help you scratch any cinematic itch.
The fest is still establishing itself among industryites (although
several made the trip directly from Park City), but already has the
complete devotion of local townfolk, particularly at the many gala
functions (really, these kids like to dress up). Here are some highlights from the week:
“Sandman” and fantasy geeks rejoice. Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean continue their 20-year partnership with their first feature effort. In it, a rebellious teen makes a wish and gets exactly what she asks forto
her dismay. Think “Alice in Wonderland” meets “Time Bandits” on an
upside down street in a parallel universe, with special f/x courtesy of
the wizards at Henson.
Winner of the audience documentary prize at Sundance, this film is a look at the competitive world of quadriplegic rugby, aka the eponymous murderball. While “Murderball” is pegged around the international rivalry between Canadian coach Joe Soares and U.S. captain Mark Zupan, the documentary also delves into the individual lives of players, laying out their stories without being
even a touch treacly. Based on co-director Dana Adam Shapiro’s magazine
story back in 2002, it’s proof that something good can come from a Maxim
“Blackballed: The Bobby Dukes Story”
A mockumentary by Brant Sersen featuring the Daily Show’s Rob Corddry
and a number of other familiar comic faces. It’s a classic story of redemptioncaught cheating and banned from the sport, former paintball great Bobby Dukes returns to the sport to reclaim his reputation. About
90 percent of the script was improvised, but it never feels like it. As they say in
the movie, you’ll come out feeling “bobbicized” and “dukealated.”
A good old-fashioned chop-socky from Thailand, complete with a “high
speed” race in tuk tuks and a chase scene that not only includes the
perquisite sheets of glass to slow down the titular hero, but also
boiling oil and a wreath of barbed wire. The film stars the unflappable
Tony Jaa, who does all his own stunts without the help of wires. But don’t just take my word for it, Wu Tang Clan member Rza has also thrown his weight behind the film.
The local Florida West Coast Symphony always gets involved with the
festival, but for the more progressive, this year’s schedule included
the Independent Visions concert series. On the slate, Boulder’s
Devotchka with its Eastern bloc-mariachi rock, a solo-ing Bob Mould, and
the always rousing Ted Leo + the Pharmacists. Whether it was faulty
promotion or shyness on the part of the natives, the Mould and Ted Leo
shows were undersoldprobably the only time you’ll experience such
intimacy at any of their performances.