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THE 20th ANNUAL SARASOTA FILM FESTIVAL ANNOUNCES ERIC STOLTZ’S CLASS RANK AS OPENING NIGHT FILM, RORY KENNEDY’S ABOVE AND BEYOND: NASA’S JOURNEY TO TOMORROW AS CLOSING NIGHT FILM

THE 20th ANNUAL SARASOTA FILM FESTIVAL ANNOUNCES ERIC STOLTZ’S CLASS RANK AS OPENING NIGHT FILM, RORY KENNEDY’S ABOVE AND BEYOND: NASA’S JOURNEY TO TOMORROW AS CLOSING NIGHT FILM

STEVE GUTTENBERG, VIRGINIA MADSEN TO BE HONORED WITH CAREER ACHIEVEMENT AWARDS

Festival Running April 13th Through April 22nd, 2018

Sarasota, FL (March 16, 2018) – The Sarasota Film Festival (SFF) today announced Golden Globe®-nominated and Independent Spirit Award®-nominated Eric Stoltz’s coming-of-age comedy CLASS RANK as its Opening Night film and Academy Award®-nominated and Emmy®-winning Rory Kennedy’s ABOVE AND BEYOND: NASA’S JOURNEY TO TOMORROW as its Closing Night film for the 20th anniversary edition. The festival also announced that renowned actor Steve Guttenberg and Academy Award®-nominated actress Virginia Madsen will be honored with Career Achievement Awards during the closing weekend.

“We are very excited to bookend the festival with two unique and groundbreaking films from two brilliant and creative directors,” said Mark Famiglio, Chairman and President of the Sarasota Film Festival. “It is also an honor to recognize the contributions of Steve Guttenberg and Virginia Madsen to the film industry, and celebrate their work from over the years.”

CLASS RANK will open the festival on Friday, April 13 at the Sarasota Opera House with a 7:30PM screening. In this light-hearted, quirky comedy, two teenagers (Olivia Holt, Skyler Gisondo) prepare for life after high school, teaming up to achieve their goals and make their dreams a reality. Kristin Chenoweth and Bruce Dern co-star. Director Eric Stoltz (MASK, PULP FICTION, television’s CHICAGO HOPE and MADAM SECRETARY) and producer Sandy Stern will be in attendance at the screening.

Academy Award®-nominated documentary filmmaker Rory Kennedy (LAST DAYS IN VIETNAM, TAKE EVERY WAVE: THE LIFE OF LAIRD HAMILTON) will be in attendance for the festival’s Closing night film ABOVE AND BEYOND: NASA’S JOURNEY TO TOMORROW, an intimate look at NASA’s accomplishments and their vital role in our future as the renowned institution celebrates its 60th Anniversary. The Discovery Documentary will screen at the Sarasota Opera House on Saturday, April 21 beginning at 6:00PM.

Steve Guttenberg will be receiving a Career Achievement Award during the Closing Weekend. Guttenberg has starred in more than 60 films across an array of genres and is known for his roles in DINER, COCOON, the POLICE ACADEMY comedies, and THREE MEN AND A BABY. Guttenberg costars in CHASING THE BLUES — a comedy-drama about the search for a rare but cursed blues record — screening at the 20th SFF.

Academy Award®-nominated actress Virginia Madsen will also receive the Career Achievement Award during the Closing Weekend. Madsen is known for her work in Alexander Payne’s SIDEWAYS, which garnered her an Oscar® nomination, THE RAINMAKER, GHOSTS OF MISSISSIPPI, JOY, television’s DESIGNATED SURVIVOR, and many others. Madsen costars in the drama 1985 — about a young man’s fears of coming out to his family in the early days of the AIDS crisis — which will show at the 20th SFF.

The 20th annual Sarasota Film Festival, which will take place from April 13th to April 22nd, greatly appreciates the support of its corporate sponsors, including the Amicus Foundation, The Famiglio Family, Regal Entertainment Group, Art Ovation Hotel, and Mutual of Omaha Bank.

ABOUT THE SARASOTA FILM FESTIVAL
Held annually in Sarasota, FL, The Sarasota Film Festival emphasizes the best in cinema alongside exciting programs and events, with more than 200 films screened each year including features, documentaries, shorts, and kid-friendly picks. Entering our 20th year, we're proud to bring the best new and established independent filmmakers to our Festival with local and kid-friendly programs that showcase our idyllic Gulf Coast community. This year the festival will take place April 13th – 22nd, 2018.

Press Contact
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OPENING NIGHT FILM

CLASS RANK
(USA)
Director: Eric Stoltz
Produced By: Sandy Stern and Shaun Sanghani
Cast: Olivia Holt, Skyler Gisondo, Kristin Chenoweth, Bruce Dern
Academia, suburbia, romance, and politics face off in this wry, smart, and warm comedy directed by Eric Stoltz (MASK, PULP FICTION, television’s CHICAGO HOPE and MADAM SECRETARY). Faced with unexpected road blocks en route to their next steps in life, two New Jersey high school outsiders, Veronica (Olivia Holt) and Bernard (Skyler Gisondo), team up to fight the system from within – and scheme their way to their dreams. Veronica is a straight-A, Type-A personality, like her affectionate TV producer mom (Kristin Chenoweth), and is aiming to go to Yale; Bernard is running for a seat on the local Board of Education and fighting minor neighborhood offenses, all while caring for his sprightly widowed grandfather (Bruce Dern) and balancing social awkwardness with social responsibility. Together, Veronica and Bernard have the right stuff to achieve their goals.

CLOSING NIGHT FILM

ABOVE AND BEYOND: NASA’S JOURNEY TO TOMORROW
(USA)
Director: Rory Kennedy
Produced By: Rory Kennedy and Mark Bailey
As NASA celebrates its 60th anniversary, Discovery shines a spotlight on the historic institution taking us to the moon, to the surface of Mars, to the outer edge of our solar system, and beyond. Directed, produced, and narrated by Academy Award®-nominated and Emmy®-winning Rory Kennedy, ABOVE AND BEYOND: NASA’S JOURNEY TO TOMORROW examines the extraordinary ways NASA has changed not only our vision of the universe but also our planet and ourselves. But more than a moving portrait of NASA’s many accomplishments in space, the film also sheds light on the agency’s lesser-known area of focus: the vital role NASA has played in measuring the health of our home planet. However far NASA may travel, its gaze has always returned to Earth — monitoring our seas and skies, our ice and sands — in an ongoing struggle to meet today’s great challenge: protecting our planet.

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