The 2021 Sarasota Film Festival wrapped its 23rd edition, which due to COVID took place in hybrid format, with a mix of outdoor screenings and virtual cinema. At the award ceremony, Best Summer Ever won the Narrative Competition Prize; Chasing Childhood won the Documentary Competition Prize; East of Middle West received the Audience Award for Feature Film and Desert Heart took the Audience Award for Short Film.
Directed by Michael Parks Randa and Lauren Smitelli, Best Summer Ever is “a fresh, exhilarating, and inclusive take on the beloved teen musical genre featuring 8 original songs and a fully integrated cast and crew of people with and without disabilities.” The film stars Eric Carl Adams, Maya Albanese, Giulia Alexander, Benjamin Bratt, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Peter Sarsgaard.
Directed by Eden Wurmfeld and Margaret Munzer Loeb, the documentary Chasing Childhood explores the unintended consequences of over-parenting, proposing free play as an alternative way forward for kids everywhere.
Directed by Brian Lucke Anderson, and starring Carson MacCormac, Scott McCord, Joris Jarsky along with Sophie, Hoyt, East of Middle West follows a teenage runaway and a widowed father as each fight to take matters into their own hands to redeem their dark past.
Other winners at the 2021 Sarasota Film Festival include Harana took the US Narrative Short Competition Prize; The Departure won the International Short Competition Prize; and One All the Way won the Documentary Short Competition Prize.
Special Jury Prizes went to Blueberry and Through the Night; Strawberry Mansion won the Independent Vision Award, and the Terry Porter Visionary Award presented by The Husking Foundation went to A Kaddish for Bernie Madoff.