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Sarasota Film Festival 2007

#"/Online Dailies Coverage of the 9th annual Sarasota Film Festival, April 13-22, 2007.


Honoring Steve Buscemi In Sarasota


Wednesday, April 18----Actor/director Steve Buscemi, one of indie film's luminaries, will be honored with the World Cinema Award at the Sarasota Film Festival  this evening at a special World Cinema Celebration block party in downtown Sarasota.  Buscemi, best known for his turns in FARGO and RESERVOIR DOGS, is in town for a series of special event appearnaces. 

Last night, Buscemi displayed his considerable charisma at the sold-out  A Conversation With....At The Historic Asolo Theater series, held in the newly restored former opera house, an architectural jewel that is one of Sarasota's most prestigious buildings. Buscemi was ably interviewed by Festival Programming Director Tom Hall, who asked pointed questions and was obviously well prepared with an exhaustive knowledge of the actor/director's oeuvre. Buscemi, who continues the great tradition of character acting into contemporary cinema, talked about his early years as an often out-of-work actor in the creative hotbed of New York's East Village in the 1970s and early 1980s, after a short stint as a fireman (his Italian family in Brooklyn pressured him to take a civil service job for security). After working in off-off Broadway, the Brooklyn-born actor got his first big break with a seminal performance in a highly influential indie film. As the gay rebel diagnosed with AIDS (at the time, considered a death sentence), he received impressive reviews for only his third on-screen performance. PARTING GLANCES (1986), directed by first time director Bill Sherwood was a ground-breaking film, not only because of its AIDS subject matter, but also as an example of the promise of independent film to tell more gritty and realistic stories than the commercial cinema of its time. The film also became an epitath for its director, who would die of AIDS just a few years later.

Ghost WorldGhost WorldBuscemi continued to impress critics and audiences with his quirky roles in such iconic indie films as MYSTERY TRAIN (Jim Jarmusch), MILLER'S CROSSING (the Coen Brothers), KING OF NEW YORK (Abel Ferrara), BARTON FINK (the Coen Brothers), IN THE SOUP (Alexander Rockwell), RESERVOIR DOGS (Quentin Tarantino), PULP FICTION (Tarantino again), LIVING IN OBLIVION (Tom Di Cillo),  and FARGO (the Coen Brothers again). Buscemi received a Golden Globe nomination and several critics association prizes for his role as the lonesome geek in Terry Zwigoff's adaptation of the comic book novel, GHOST WORLD. "I never knew going into these films whether they would click or not with audiences or critics", Buscemi stated. "In the beginning, I was very involved and excited about how a film would be received, but now I have come to realize that it is the work itself that is the exciting and fun part. So far, I've never taken a job that I felt was just for the money and made me feel like I had sold out."

Buscemi is also gaining praise as a deft director, with his films TREES LOUNGE and LONESOME JIM major hits at film festivals worldwide. At this year's Sundance Film Festival, Buscemi was in two buzz titles: as the fame-hungry papparazzo in Tom DiCillo's chilly comedy DELIRIOUS and as the director and star of the two-hander INTERVIEW, an adaptation of a Dutch film by slain director Theo van Gogh. INTERVIEW, which stars Buscemi and Sienna Miller, has recently been picked up by Sony Pictures Classics, with a theatrical release this summer..

At the Sarasota Film Festival, Buscemi has a featured role in the film PARIS JE T'AIME, an omnibus feature with contributions by twenty directors, who were assigned to create short love poems to the City of Light. The film has its final screening tonight, and the actor will appear to introduce the film. Participating filmmakers in the project include such respected auteurs as Olivier Assayas, Joel and Ethan Coen, Isabel Coixet, Wes Craven, Alfonso Cuaron, Gerard Depardieu, Alexander Payne, Walter Salles, Tom Twyker and Gus Van Sant. The sterling cast features an eclectic mix of European and American stars, including Willem Dafoe, Nick Nolte, Gena Rowlands, Ben Gazarra, Juliette Binoche, Miranda Richardson, Javier Camara, Leonor Watling, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Fanny Ardant, Bob Hoskins, Elijah Wood, Nathalie Portman, Emily Mortimer, Gerard Depardieu and Rufus Sewell.

Buscemi appears in the Tuileries segment of the film, directed by Joel Coen. Following the film, there will be a street fair in downtown Sarasota dubbed the World Cinema Celebration, where  Buscemi will receive the 2007 World Cinema Award in recognition of his tremendous contributions to the art of film as an actor, director and producer. "When I was growing up in Brooklyn's East New York, being an actor seemed like an impossible dream", Buscemi touchingly told the rapt audience at last night's talk. "But as I moved into the circles of artists and actors and filmmakers in those early years, I learned that you have to go after your dreams, believe in yourself and be willing to sacrifice, and sometimes the dream really can come true."

Sandy Mandelberger, Sarasota Film Festival Online Dailies Editor

Comments (1)


They had a very hard barem of prising and it was impossible to fake the votes but i've heard that Steve Buscemi had to run before the festival party because his home security systems was broken and he thought that someone just made a housebreaking on him.

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About Sarasota Film Festival 2007

Online Dailies Coverage of the 9th annual Sarasota Film Festival, April 13-22, 2007.

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