Sarasota Visions Film Festival pivots due to Nicole, showings resume Friday and Saturday

[Sarasota Herald-Tribune] Sarasota Visions Film Festival pivots due to Nicole, showings resume Friday and Saturday

Sarasota Visions Film Festival pivots due to Nicole, showings resume Friday and Saturday

Tropical storm Nicole put a damper on opening night plans for the fourth annual Visions of the Black Experience Film Festival — which was set to open on Nov. 10 — but organizers are inviting residents and attendees to visit the New College campus Friday, Nov. 11, and Saturday Nov. 12 as the festival opens to the public following the storm.

This free film festival celebrates and illuminates the historical, social, and cultural aspects of black life through film. The narrative and documentary films will focus on vital themes like the legacy of slavery, searching for identity, and the history of African-American filmmaking, while highlighting local and emerging filmmakers.

More: Organizers announce the lineup for Visions of the Black Experience film Fest

The 2022 festival is hosted in collaboration with the Boxser Diversity Initiative, Sarasota Film Festival, New College of Florida, Multicultural Health Institute, and Manasota ASALH – the Association for the Study of African American Life and History. 

Organizers announced a locally produced documentary series called Hidden Gems, looks at African-American business leaders, as well as a new program of short films by young filmmakers focused on local history, and a New College of Florida film project entitled Radiant Communities. 

"Last year, just being involved ... a lot of sophomores were not in the same position as I was," said Will Mauricette, winner of the festival's inaugural Young Filmmaker Scholarship contest. 

More: Visions of Black Experience Film Festival launches young filmmaker scholarships

"It's a privilege as filmmakers and artists; it's hard to feel like your work is being looked at when you aren't in festivals... To have people want my work, it helps me to feel like I'm progressing and moving forward."

Mauricette's "The Legacy of Leonard Reid," tells the story of Reid, a pioneer who helped establish Sarasota's first Black neighborhood. The 40-minute short will anchor Saturday's documentary series that will be shown at Mildred Sainer Auditorium on the campus of New College beginning at 2 pm.

"It feels good. Last year I was knocking doors down to get a film into a festival," Mauricette said. "Now, to get phone calls from those people, to know that I'm in the back of people's minds for festivals, it feels really amazing," he said.

Supporters of the VOBE festival expressed various thoughts about this year's event leading up to the postponement of the kickoff, though many said the festival fills in a gap in the film and arts industry.

Manasota ASALH's Paul Toliver said that the festival is important and helps members of the Black community to learn more about the past.

“In a time where the teaching of actual history is almost forbidden, ASALH appreciates and thanks the VOTBE Film Festival for the opportunity to see, hear and experience history that some so desperately want to prevent us from knowing," Toliver said. 

To register for free tickets and more information visit the film festival website at Visions of the Black Experience Film Series. 

Samantha Gholar covers social justice news for the Herald-Tribune and USA TODAY Network. Connect with her at or on Twitter: @samanthagholar