Sarasota Film Festival winners include Hidden Beauty

Other People’s Children won the Narrative Feature Jury Prize and Invisible Beauty won the Documentary Feature Jury Prize at the 25th annual Sarasota Film Festival, which offered a stacked schedule of films that raised long-overlooked voices for an audience eager to hear them.

Several Q&As at the sun-soaked Florida festival noted recent efforts by the state’s governor to regulate what students learn about race, gender and sexuality, and more than one attendee noted that film had fueled their efforts to keep pushing back.

That was especially true at a Saturday screening of Alexandria Bombach’s fantastic Indigo Girls documentary It’s Only Life After All, where several audience members said the folk duo’s queer-positive music had emboldened them to spend their lives protecting LGBTQ+ youth. The Indigo Girls themselves — Amy Ray and Emily Saliers — were on hand to meet fans, answer questions, and receive the Sarasota Maestro Award. 

Also Read: The World Has Finally Caught Up With Barbara Kopple (Podcast)

Additionally, Jay Leno received the festival’s Career Achievement Award, and Roma Downey received the Sarasota Film Festival Lifetime Achievement Award. Downey also produced Sean McNamara’s On a Wing and a Prayer, a Prime Video release that closed the festival with a screening at the Sarasota Opera House on Sunday.

The narrative jury winner, Other People’s Children, directed by Rebecca Zlotowski, is a portrait of the many ways that maternal love and loss can express itself, starring Virginie Efira.

The documentary jury winner, Invisible Beauty, directed by Bethann Hardison and Frédéric Tcheng, recounts Hardison’s work as a model and activist to champion fellow Black models at a time when the fashion industry routinely denied them their place on the runway. Invisible Beauty also won the festival’s Industry Audience Award.

More Sarasota Film Festival Winners

In addition to its main prize, the Narrative Feature Jury also recognized KT Curran’s Bridge to the Other Side, which examines the emotional fallout from the COVID pandemic by following a crisis stabilization and behavioral health mobile response team. Bridge to the Other Side also won the Local Audience Award, which recognizes productions from Gulf Coast filmmakers.

The Documentary Feature Jury also recognized Maxim Pozdorovkin’s The Conspiracy, which examines the persistent damage done by antisemitic lies.

The festival’s Independent Visions Award went to Late Bloomers, directed by Lisa Steen. The filmmakers will receive a complimentary half-day use of the audio sweetening facility at Ringling College, and the chance to work with Nick Palladino, an internationally respected sound designer and the founder of NPALL Audio. 

Anna Salinas’ film “Inés Unfortunately” won Best U.S. Narrative Short; Marquis Dawsey’s Hidden Gems won Best Documentary Short; and Alistair Simpson’s “Astroman” won Best International Short.

Mark Famiglio, President and Prankster

Sarasota Film Festival President and Chairman Mark Famiglio gamely led the ceremonies and fun, and provided a highlight of the festival with a terrific April Fool’s joke — he tricked attendees at Saturday night’s dinner by pretending he planned to step down after 25 years. (To be clear: He won’t.)

“I am honored to close the milestone 25th anniversary edition of the Sarasota Film Festival by recognizing the incredible, dynamic films we screened at this year’s event. We wish the warmest of congratulations to our award winners, and the brilliantly talented filmmakers behind these projects. Thank you to this year’s Jury members for taking the time to highlight these films,” Famiglio said in a statement.

“It is valuable to pause and reflect on why we do this festival on the 25th anniversary. We do it for the community — for the right of individuals, across all backgrounds, to express themselves cinematically, to educate others to their points of view, political leanings, thoughts, analytical arguments; the beautiful expression that only film can provide. Thank you to all our supporters and everyone who continues to make this event possible each year.” 

The Sarasota Film Festival narrative feature jury consisted of the aforementioned Bombach, as well as IndieWire executive managing editor Christian Blauvelt and Frankfurt Kurnit partner Victoria Cook. The documentary feature jury included HamptonsFilm executive director Anne Chaisson and PR executive Katie Martin Kelley.

MovieMaker was also in attendance, and you can read about our coverage of other Sarasota Film Festivals films here and here. And we especially recommend this interview with two-time Oscar winner Barbara Kopple about her film Gumbo Coalition. You can also listen to our talk with Kopple on Apple, wherever you get your podcasts, or right here on Spotify:

Here is the list of 2023 winners at The Sarasota Film Festival Awards:


Narrative Feature Competition Winner

Other People’s Children

Director: Rebecca Zlotowski

Documentary Feature Competition Winner

Invisible Beauty

Directors: Bethann Hardison & Frédéric Tcheng

Narrative Feature Jury Special Mention

Bridge to the Other Side 

Director:  KT Curran

Documentary Feature Jury Special Mention

The Conspiracy

Director: Maxim Pozdorovkin

Independent Visions Competition Winner

Late Bloomers

Director: Lisa Steen

US Narrative Short Competition Winner

Inés Unfortunately

Director: Anna Salinas

Documentary Short Competition Winner

“Hidden Gems”

Director: Marquis Dawsey

International Short Competition Winner


Director: Alistair Simpson

Audience Awards

Local Audience Award Winner

“Bridge to the Other Side” 

Director:  KT Curran

Industry Audience Award Winner

“Invisible Beauty” 

Directors: Bethann Hardison & Frédéric Tcheng 

Main image: Bethann Hardison in Invisible Beauty, directed by Hardison and Frédéric Tcheng, winner of the Documentary Feature Jury Prize at the 25th annual Sarasota Film Festival.