This year’s Sarasota Film Festival will feature women-directed films on Opening and Closing Night. According to a press statement from the festival, Rory Kennedy’s “Take Every Wave: The Life of Laird Hamilton” will kick everything off and Eleanor Coppola’s “Paris Can Wait” will serve as the finale.
“Take Every Wave,” which recently screened at Sundance, is a documentary about big-wave surfer Laird Hamilton, who is “like an action figure sprung to life, complete with extraordinary physical abilities, a penchant for criss-crossing the globe, and a complete lack of fear.” As Kennedy explained to Women and Hollywood, the film is an unorthodox sports doc and tells “a universal story about human potential — about striving, about the power of an individual to overcome limits, and about the ability we all have to shape our own destiny.”
Coppola’s “Paris Can Wait,” which hits theaters May 12, stars Diane Lane as Anne. As the film’s summary reads, “Long married to a successful, driven but inattentive movie producer (Alec Baldwin), [Anne] unexpectedly finds herself taking a car trip from Cannes to Paris with a business associate of her husband (Arnaud Viard). What should be a seven-hour drive turns into a carefree two-day adventure.”
“This year’s festival is reflective of the power and strength women around the world showcase every day, and we couldn’t be happier,” Mark Famiglio, President of the fest, said in a statement.
And Kennedy and Coppola aren’t the only women Famiglio is referring to. Barbara Kopple’s doc “This Is Everything: Gigi Gorgeous,” about a a champion diver’s male to female transition, is one of the fest’s Centerpiece films. Jill Campbell’s doc about former NBA star Kenny Anderson, “Mr. Chibbs,” will have a special screening with students from the local Img Academy and Boys & Girls Club in attendance.
Additionally, Aisha Tyler’s (“Archer”) feature-length directorial debut, “Axis,” will screen in the Independent Visions Competition. “Axis” takes place entirely inside a car and follows Tristan (Emmett Hughes, also the film’s writer) on a particularly bad day.
Kennedy, Lane, Tyler, and Anderson are all expected to attend the festival, the press release notes.
The Sarasota Film Festival takes place March 31-April 9 in Sarasota, Florida. Descriptions for the women-directed films screening are below, courtesy of the fest.
Opening Night Film
Take Every Wave: The Life Of Laird Hamilton
Director: Rory Kennedy
Producers: Rory Kennedy, Paul Speaker, Mark Bailey, Jack Youngelson
Big-wave surfer Laird Hamilton has always seemed like an action figure sprung to life, complete with extraordinary physical abilities, a penchant for criss-crossing the globe, and a complete lack of fear. In director Rory Kennedy’s exhilarating, careening and intimate documentary, we follow the charismatic Hamilton during a winter surf season on Hawaii’s Kauai Island, where Hamilton grew up and where an approaching El Nino storm system may now provide unprecedented waves for him to conquer. A competitive surfer since he was a teenager, Hamilton’s 30-plus years of celebrity has gone along with alongside a willingness to always challenge himself on his board. He’s dabbled in modeling and acting, introduced technical innovations into the sport, and famously rode a “wave of heaviest consequence” in Tahiti in 2000. With extraordinary images, Kennedy brings to the surface Hamilton’s story both in and out of the water, showing how both have been filled with epic moves. Dive in!
Closing Night Film
Paris Can Wait
Director/ Producer: Eleanor Coppola
Cast: Diane Lane, Arnaud Viard, Alec Baldwin
Eleanor Coppola’s narrative directorial and screenwriting debut stars Academy Award® nominee Diane Lane as a Hollywood producer’s wife who unexpectedly takes a trip through France, which reawakens her sense of self and her joie de vivre. Anne (Lane) is at a crossroads in her life. Long married to a successfully driven but inattentive movie producer (Alec Baldwin), she finds herself taking a car trip from Cannes to Paris with a business associate of her husband (Arnaud Viard). What should be a seven-hour drive turns into a journey of discovery involving picturesque sights, fine food and wine, humor, wisdom, and much more.
This Is Everything: Gigi Gorgeous
Director: Barbara Kopple
Producers: Barbara Kopple, David Cassidy
A transgender Youtube star, Gigi Lazzarato, aka Gigi Gorgeous, tells the tale of her life, transition and fame in this intimate documentary by acclaimed Academy Award® winner Barbara Kopple (Harlan County USA, American Dream, Miss Sharon Jones). Formerly a competitive diver, Gregory Lazzarato’s path to who she really was includes losing her mother to cancer, coming out as gay, and living out loud to over 2.4 million Youtube subscribers. Kopple’s incisive style and Gigi’s glitzy reinvention make for a compelling study of an unforgettable journey.
Director: Jill Campbell
Producers: Jill Campbell, Barry Greenstein, Dr. Michael J. Brunetti, John Getz, Gregory Gerhard
Former NBA All-Star and New York City basketball prodigy Kenny Anderson finds himself in the midst of a mid-life crisis ten years post-retirement. Having faced both his mother’s death and subsequent DUI, Anderson is forced to confront his questionable choices and adopt the father role that he previously neglected. On his journey of rehabilitation, Chibbs visits people and arenas from his past to reflect and discover what life is like after his famous title fades away.
Independent Visions Competition
Director: Aisha Tyler
Producers: Aisha Tyler, Barry Sonders, Lemar Vertel Scott, R. Vaughn Gill
Cast: Emmett Hughes
Actress Aisha Tyler (Archer, The Talk, Whose Line Is It Anyway?, Criminal Minds), in her directorial debut, shoots an entire film inside one car in Los Angeles. It’s not a great day for Tristan (Emmett Hughes, who is also the screenwriter) — his life is falling apart and everyone is abandoning him at his time of need. Taut, tense, claustrophobic, and dramatic.
Sarasota Film Festival to Open and Close with Women-Directed Films was originally published in Women and Hollywood on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.