SARASOTA, Fla. - The Sarasota Film Festival is going into its final weekend with some of its best movies and biggest parties. This year the festival screened over 250 films, hosting filmmakers from all over the world and bringing the community together.
Friday night the festival holds its biggest party of the week: Cinema Tropicale, bringing filmmakers, artists, and guests together at the Sarasota Yacht Club to enjoy live music and food, all in an island-themed atmosphere.
Last weekend, the 16th Annual Sarasota Film Festival kicked off with a full red carpet at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall. From the start, the festival brought the Suncoast community together. On opening night, Rory Kennedy premiered her film "Last Days in Vietnam".
The film's premiere coincided with the Legacy of Valor campaign and brought local veterans to the festival. "It's really a story celebrating the military men on the ground, who did everything they could and recognized how important it was to get these folks out the country."
Later in the week, two first-time Bradenton filmmakers screened their film telling the story of Suncoast boxer China Smith. "We were so excited about being a part of Sarasota Film Festival."
The film's star told ABC 7 that seeing the film was an emotional moment. "It's outstanding. Words can't describe how I'm feeling."
Some Ringling College students kicked off their careers this week, premiering their feature film "Lucky 6." ABC 7's own Hayley Weilgus even made an appearance in the movie. "That was a wild success. People came in droves for that movie."
And among the many events were a tribute luncheon to award and honor the star of the film "Sewing Hope"-- a story of Ugandan nun Sister Rosemary, who's working to change the lives of formerly sex trafficked girls in Uganda and teaching them a trade. "It was quite humbling to me, greatly humbling and at the same time I feel very honored."
Forest Whittaker took viewers on a journey of Sister Rosemary's story, as she helps young women gain independence, hope, and a voice in the future of their nation.
There are still two days left of film screenings, events, and many awards to be given.
But the biggest party of them all, Cinema Tropicale, will begin at 8:30.