2014 Sarasota Film Festival calls it a wrap

Sarasota, Florida -- The Sarasota Film Festival wraps up its 10-day long run tomorrow, but tonight was the big closing ceremony where the top filmmakers were recognized.

The next big Hollywood star may be walking the Sarasota Film Festival's red carpet.

Director and writer Josephine Decker took home three awards, including the Juice Award for women in films. The other is the Independent Vision Award for Thou Wast Mild and Lovely.

"The winning film gets distribution. It's a dream, a goal people at other festivals get to see it," said Decker.

Michael Tully, the director of Ping Pong Summer, took away two top honors, including Best Narrative Feature. For many filmmakers, the Sarasota Film Festival is a winner too.

Tully said, "More launching movies, bigger movies. There's a sense of community, making friends here."

"The audience that comes out have questions, they are engaged," said Decker.

See also:Winners at the Sarasota Film Festival

The 2014 Sarasota Film Festival is the largest one so far, showcasing 252 films and more than 100 filmmakers and actors.

"Biggest surprise -- growth in attendance. We peg 3-5 percent try to see it grow this year, well over that," said Tom Hall, director of the Sarasota Film Festival.

The festival opened last Saturday with a tribute to veterans in director Rory Kennedy's Last Days in Vietnam.

"Our film focuses on American heroes whose stories were never told," said Kennedy.

Midweek, the focus switched to women, the education of Middle Eastern women in the movie Sepideh, as a means for peace and change.

On Day 8 of the festival film, lovers were taken half way around the world with Sewing Hope and Sister Rosemary's work with young girls in Uganda abused by rebels. Sister Rosemary earned the festival's Impact Award.

Throughout the week, there was an array of feature films and short films, some produced locally. One featured the comeback of Sarasota boxer China Smith, the former two time heavyweight world champ.

The festival wraps up with director Charlie McDowell's The One I Love with Mad Men actress Elisabeth Moss and actor Mark Duplass.

"I made this a year ago. Never thought I'd be closing this festival," said McDowell.

Festival organizers say to continue the momentum from this year's successful film festival they plan on making this a year-round activity, offering students programs in the summer, and bringing new films to the area in the fall and winter. It's all about building excitement for next year's Sarasota Film Festival.

See full list of winners at the Sarasota Film Festival


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