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Sarasota film festival big on stars

Stars are aligning for the 12th annual Sarasota Film Festival, to be held April 9-18 and already boasting a top-notch lineup of visiting celebrities, president Mark Famiglio announced Tuesday evening at the Longboat Key Tennis Club.

Academy Award winner Kevin Kline will accompany his film The Extra Man for opening night festivities and will participate in the festival's A Conversation with … series of on-stage interviews. The Extra Man features Kline as an unorthodox mentor for a confused young man (Paul Dano).

Other conversations will feature Oscar nominee Patricia Clarkson (Shutter Island, Pieces of April), Disney animation icon Don Hahn (Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King), and actor Vincent D'Onofrio (Full Metal Jacket, Men in Black), whom this writer will have the pleasure of grilling onstage on closing day, as happened with Bill Paxton last year.

But wait, there's more. This year's festival will honor director John Landis, who helped define modern movie comedy with National Lampoon's Animal House, The Blues Brothers and Trading Places. He also directed Michael Jackson's legendary Thriller music video. Landis' closing-night honor at the Sarasota Opera House is expected to bring a few friends to the party.

Up in the air are several members of the current Saturday Night Live cast, who are featured in the closing night film, Saturday Night, a documentary of the show's prepping process by actor and former SNL host James Franco (Pineapple Express), who isn't on the guest list so far.

The list of celebrities continues with frequent fest guests Steve Buscemi and Stanley Tucci, who'll participate in the festival's latest innovation, an investors lab to instruct prospective movie backers on how to do it right. Buscemi is directing a line reading of the screenplay Queer by Oren Moverman (The Messenger), based on the writings of William S. Burroughs. Buscemi is in New York casting actors for the one-time event.

Toss in actor Ben Foster from last year's opening night film, The Messenger, and this year's Sarasota Film Festival shapes up as its starriest in years.

Tickets go on sale at 11 a.m. Friday at With 168 features, documentaries and shorts in the lineup — not to mention some of the most chic parties around — there's something for all cinematic tastes.

Sarasota film festival big on stars 03/16/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 16, 2010 9:08pm]
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