Sarasota Film Festival to go virtual while its normal event is delayed


  • Cameron Meier
In another sign of how the coronavirus is affecting the film industry in Florida, the Sarasota Film Festival has announced it will hold an online festival April 27–May 3.

In a prepared statement, the festival said, “Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Sarasota Film Festival, in conjunction with the arts community of Sarasota, presents the first-ever virtual film festival, including feature-length films, documentaries, short films, student films, conversations, Q&As and other live events.”

However, this does not necessarily mean the in-person festival, which was originally scheduled for March 27–April 5, will be canceled. Indeed, Mark Famiglio, the festival’s president and chairman, says he is still hopeful the festival can go forward later this year.

“We are hoping to do a presentation in the fall to complement and supplement everything we are doing now,” Famiglio told me, hinting that support for some sort of festival this month was great enough to inspire him to launch a virtual event. “We had such great demand from our audience and the support of the independent filmmakers who were set to screen films in this year's festival and are trying to continue supporting the arts community in Sarasota and Florida.”

The online festival will be accessible through the festival’s app, which is available at or by searching the App Store for “Sarasota Film Festival.” This virtual event, which has yet to announce its lineup, will include an audience-award competition for feature films, along with a panel of judges who will recognize short films and student features.

The Sarasota Film Festival is regarded as one of the three most prestigious movie events in the state, along with the Miami Film Festival and the Florida Film Festival. The latter, organized by Central Florida’s Enzian Theater, was originally scheduled for this month but has been indefinitely postponed, though Enzian staff is eyeing August. Until then, the arthouse cinema is offering a streaming option, “Enzian on Demand.” (For more on that, visit

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