Sarasota, Florida- Opening night for the 16th Annual Sarasota Film Festival was a sell out at the Van Wezel Performing Art Hall Friday night. The film festival has attracted more than 100 filmmakers and stars, and more movies this year than ever before.
The Red Carpet was rolled out and the paparazzi captured the who's who of this year's Sarasota Film Festival. The stars at opening night were the unsung heroes of the Last Days in Vietnam.
"We are military guys. We do our jobs; we don't want recognition," said retired Captain Paul Jacobs.
It's their story, Emmy winning producer and director Rory Kennedy tells in her documentary called "Last Days in Vietnam"- Americans who go against US policy and evacuate South Vietnamese.
"Our film focuses on celebrating these American heroes whose story was never told," explained Rory Kennedy.
Sarasota Film Festival opens with Rory Kennedy's "Last Days in Vietnam". Over 10 days, the festival will show 252 films WTSP 10 News
"We went from men of war, to humanitarians in six hours- handling women, pregnant women, babies whatever," recalls Jacobs.
Jacobs served as the Commanding officer of the USS Kirk during the evacuation from Saigon. Jacobs says his ship had room for one helicopter to land at a time, and once it emptied he made room for more.
"Five more were stacked up there," said Jacobs. "I said 'push them over the side',"...meaning overboard, into the water.
Corporal Mike Sweeney helped with evacuations from the embassy. "We are soldiers, and also human beings who have a heart."
"I'm a great fan of history and what it teaches," says Rory Kennedy. She appears at the Sarasota Film Festival with her mother Ethel Kennedy her daughter Bridgett and Gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist.
"I love documentary films. I learn something new; every project has taken me on a different journey."
What do mover goers think of Kennedy's Film? Kathleen Knapp says the movie shows the difficulty and heartache suffered at the time.
One movie down and 251 more to go- from documentaries, to short films and features, and even kid-friendly ones too! There are 10 days to see them all. Most movies are showing at the Regal Cinemas Hollywood 20 in Downtown Sarasota.