The decisions on what movies get programmed for the Sarasota Film Festival now are in the hands of Michael Dunaway, a journalist and documentary film producer based out of Atlanta.
Dunaway, who has served as a juror and moderated "In Conversation..." events at SFF in the past, was announced Monday by SFF President Mark Famiglio as the new programming director, succeeding close friend Tom Hall, who left his post as SFF Director in the Fall to take over the Montclair Film Festival in New Jersey.
Dunaway will remain a consulting editor for Paste Magazine, but will now devote much of the year to planning the Sarasota event, which has become one of the most prestigious regional film festivals in the United States.
"It was all just so fantastic," Dunaway
said, "and this was an exciting opportunity to continue what Tom and Mark have incredibly been doing for years."
connections with lead festival organizers at Sundance, SlamDance and South by Southwest should give Sarasota an inside track to important films, Dunaway
also wants to make sure the experience of attending an SFF screening is more than just moving pictures on the wall.
"We have to provide memorable experiences to make it worth it for audiences to leave the comfort of homes and come to the theater and see a movie.
We do that by appearances by directors and actors, with education programs and panels after movies and by talkback sessions.
It could also mean the incorporation of more music, particularly when performers are tied to films.
In the immediate future, Dunaway
will be joining Famiglio and other SFF programmers in Sundance to scout films and speak with filmmakers.
Pictured: Michael Dunaway speaks with actress Penelope Ann Miller at the Sarasota Film Festival in 2012.