What is your film festival’s mission?
Our primary goal is to encourage the creation, production, and exhibition of independent film in Florida through our educational programs and public screenings, thereby increasing awareness and support of local filmmaking as a cultural and economic asset.
What role does your film festival play in supporting your film’s community?
The Sunscreen Film Festival is organized and presented by the St. Petersburg-Clearwater Film Society Inc., a nonprofit 501(c)(3) charity dedicated to education, economic development, informing the public about the art of visual storytelling, enhancing opportunities for local filmmakers to develop their craft and art, and increasing the public’s awareness and support of local filmmaking as a cultural and economic asset. The festival puts on year round programming like outdoor film screenings, a film summer camp and educational workshops.
How long has your film festival been around?
The Sunscreen Film Festival is thrilled to celebrate its 11th annual event, the longest running mainstream film festival in Tampa Bay.
How did your film festival come into being?
The Sunscreen Film Festival has grown from its first festival in a local art gallery with 600 attendees in 2006 to an internationally recognized event with an annual attendance of over 20,000 in St. Petersburg, Florida and Los Angeles, California.
Founded by Tony Armer and Derek Miner in 2005 at the kitchen table, Sunscreen Film Festival came to life in May of 2006. In its early days, the festival was held at Studio@620 in St. Petersburg, screening 35 short-and-feature films over two days and hosting two world premiers to a standing room only audience.
The festival saw a 600 percent increase in attendance from 2006 to 2009. Due to overwhelming popularity, the festival expanded in 2007 and 2008 to include the Vinoy Renaissance Resort and Golf Club. This new venue allowed us to grow exponentially, collectively featuring more than 100 short-and-feature films on multiple screens and expanding our celebrity guests to include actors John Travolta and Kelly Preston.
In 2009, the venue moved to the Muvico Baywalk 20, where our celebrity roster grew to include actors Patrick Wilson, Michael Rooker, Bill Cobbs and Jeffrey Donovan. More than 70 short-and-feature films were screened, including the Southeastern premiere of “Passengers,” starring Anne Hathaway and Patrick Wilson. That year, MovieMaker magazine voted Sunscreen one of the “25 Coolest Film Fests” in the country.
Sunscreen is one of only 23 Film Fests in the country to be sponsored by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for 2013-2014. In 2013 the festival expanded to Los Angeles and now holds the Florida version in the spring and the Los Angeles version in the fall each year.
What is something people look forward to every year at your film festival?
The festival offers far more than just hosting indie films from artists who are not the biggest names in the field. Attendees have the opportunity to learn from the best actors, directors, producers, writers, designers, and other career-path professionals. You can have the time of your life, and in one of the world’s most beautiful areas.
One of the things that makes the Sunscreen Film Festival so impressive is our dedication to our craft. We ascribe to the belief that art is a medium for the imagination to flourish. All film is a door into the secondary world, and we celebrate that function of our profession. Film allows us to experience a whole new life, set of emotions, and sense of reality.
Film is an art, and the entire process of creating that attraction between this art and viewers is what draws us in and keeps us enthralled. At the festival, you can spark your imagination and spend time with others in a like-minded setting embracing the art that you love.
What do you want audiences to take away from your film festival?
We hope to continue to consistently entertain and challenge audiences, and create memorable moments for filmmakers, special guests, judges and the film-loving public.
Anything else you’d like to tell the audience about your festival?
Sunscreen is different from other festivals in that our guests are expected to take part in workshops, classes, or other event that supports the festival’s mission. Our guests also participate in educational programming as a part of attendance.
Visit the Sunscreen Film Festival website here.