March multi-day festivals are highlighted

This weekend, jazz and Jewish film festivals updated in Part I of series

F.I.S.H. Festival 2019
Thousands attended the Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival under sunny skies February 16, 2019

At this time of year you should be able to find a festival for all occasions on any given weekend. There are two and three-day seafood festivals, fine art and craft festivals are commonplace with different themes to keep them relevant. Different themes also keep them fresh and are introduced in different locations. This is one of the advantages of living in an area with sunny skies daily.

This weekend two of the most highly attended festivals of the year will attract thousands to Sarasota and Cortez. The Thunder by the Bay Festival, now in its 21st year, celebrates with three days of motorcycle revelry and concerts at the Sarasota County Fairgrounds starting on Friday. This festival benefits the Suncoast Charities for Children, an organization that supports special needs children and adults through construction projects.

Saturday and Sunday thousands will visit the tiny fishing village of Cortez for the annual Commercial Fishing Festival. You won’t miss the festivities if you travel on Cortez Road toward Bradenton Beach. In most recent years of this festival that is celebrating 37 years, there has been an average attendance of over 20,000 visitors. Proceeds from the festival will benefit the Florida Institute for Saltwater Heritage. The non-profit F.I.S.H. organization supports the culture and environment of Florida’s fishing communities. The public is encouraged to visit for free, its education programs at the Florida Maritime Museum in Cortez, Tuesday through Saturday.

Mark March 3 for the start of the Sarasota Jazz Festival week

The Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe building
The Jazz Festival gets rolling in the Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe theatrical production of Lil & Louis the first Monday and Tuesday of the Festival.

Springtime is a time when this area really shines with multi-week festivals that have become renown worldwide. The 39th Annual Sarasota Jazz Festival kicks off March 3, noon, with a free concert of three bands at Phillippi Estate Park. There the festival moves to multiple downtown Sarasota venues for six days of theatrical productions, morning films and concerts.

The Lil & Louis theatrical production hits the Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe stage in the newly remodeled Education & Outreach Building, March 4 and 5, at 7:30 PM. This is the story of Lil and Louis Armstrong, the First Couple of Jazz, developed and directed by Chuck Smith.

A live musical introduction by Jeremy Carter and John O’Leary will precede a presentation of the movie Round Midnight on Wednesday and Thursday, starting at 9:30 AM each day in the Burns Court Theatre. The 1986 acclaimed movie received several awards and nominations including an 1987 Oscar for Herbie Hancock who won in the Best Music, Original Score category. The tenor saxophone musician Dexter Gordon was nominated that year for an Oscar in the Best Actor in a Leading Role category. His role in the movie as sax player Dale Turner received multiple domestic and international film best actor awards.

Wednesday is also the day for a VIP reception in the Hyatt Regency Hotel marina boathouse at 5 PM and a meet-and-greet of the musicians backstage following a concert on the main stage of the hotel. Ken Peplowski presents the concert starting at 7:30 PM where sponsor Arbors Records introduces its newest recording artist James Suggs, on trumpet, with other professional jazz musicians. Peplowski returns Friday night for another main stage concert at 7:30. On Saturday he will present two concerts, the first will be a concert by the University of Miami Big Band in the hotel grand ballroom at 3 PM, another concert at 7:30 PM, followed by the presentation of the Satchmo award.

On Friday and Saturday, starting at noon each day, there will be four different themed jazz concerts performed concurrently on different stages. Blues, classic, contemporary and Latin performances will appear. As an added bonus during the festival, there will be five trolleys visiting 12 bands at different venues in the trolley and pub crawl on Thursday starting at 5:30 PM.

18 different movies in 11 days of the Sarasota-Manatee Jewish Film Festival

Heading Home: The Tale of Team Israel
Heading Home - The film festival opens March 6 in the Municipal Auditorium with special guests.

Before the Sarasota Jazz Festival concludes on March 9, The 2019 Jewish Film Festival begins its 11-day run with an opening night screening on March 6 with the film, Heading Home: The Tale of Team Israel. It is the true story of Team Israel in its first season quest to become eligible for the World Baseball Classic. The film will screen in the Sarasota Municipal Auditorium at 7 PM, and roll again in the Hollywood 11 complex on March 12 where most of the films will be screened in theaters 5, 6 and 7. Opening night special guests include filmmaker Jeremy Newberger and baseball players Ryan Lavarnway, Dean Kremer and Jeremy Bleich.

The Optimists will be shown March 7, 11 and 14, the story of Palestinian Chemist Dr. Tareq Abu Hamed. The movie 93Queen is the 2018 film about Hasidic women living in a Brooklyn borough, on March 7, 11 and 15. Six other movies start on March 7, including Shelter, a Mossad agent called back for a new assignment under a different identity. The film returns for March 12 and 15 showings. Another award winning film beginning that day is the Light of Hope, which returns March 13 and 15. It is the true story of a woman who saved many lives during WWII. Keep the Change, appearing March 7, 11 and 12, is a story of coming to terms with autism. Past Life follows the story of two daughters of Holocaust survivors to be shown March 7, 12 and 13. A comedic drama featuring a teenage and his grandfather, The Samuel Project, appears March 7, 8 and 13. The Last Suit portrays the story of an 88-year-old Holocaust survivor, March 7 and 14 with a special screening on Longboat Key in the Temple Beth Israel on March 13.

Five films have their first runs on March 8, the first is a story of a German baker having an affair with a married Israeli man and the lies that continue after the death of the husband, in The Cakemaker, March 8, 12 and 13. The Fortunate Man on March 8, 13 and 15 tells the story of a man who escapes a deeply religious family only to be drawn back in when he becomes a prominent engineer. Three Israeli soldiers fight for the strength to live in the true story, When the Smoke Clears, March 8, 12 and 14. Who will Write Our Story tells the story of those who fought back against the Nazis in a 1940 Warsaw ghetto. It appears five times, once on March 8 and twice on March 11 and 14. Fanny’s Journey follows the story of a young woman who precipitates a trek of children to the Switzerland border. It returns to the screen on March 15.

My Dear Children opens March 11 for five showings in three consecutive days. It depicts the horror that a family ensues following the Russian Revolution of 1917. Life is Rich, a true comedic story of filmmaker Bonnie Rich will be shown March 11 and 12. She will host a Q&A after each screening. Back to Berlin, three consecutive days starting March 12, follows eleven motorcyclists who carry the Maccabiah torch from Israel to Berlin in the summer of 2015. The closing event in the Beatrice Friedman Theater is the southwest Florida premiere of the movie The Mamboniks follows the performances of Latin music and dance combining two cultures directly after WWII.

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In part II of this series on February 25 we pick up with The Sarasota Film Festival April 5 through 14 and three weeks of the Sarasota Music Festival, June 2 through 23. Manatee Heritage Festival Days is a month-long series of free and paid daily events in March that highlights the history of Manatee County, once 5,000 square miles that included Sarasota, Hardee, Desoto, Highlands, Charlotte and Glades counties until they were split off in 1887 and 1921.

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