The 20th annual Sarasota Film Festival ended over the weekend with an awards presentation and red-carpet ceremony at the Sarasota Opera House, which featured appearances by Steve Guttenberg, Virginia Madsen and Rory Kennedy. The last three also participated in Q&A sessions at the Florida Studio Theatre.
Virginia Madsen expressed her thanks for the award, noting that independent films like the festival’s 1985, in which she appears, “are about 98 percent of what I do.” “Every director is very different in the way that they work,” Madsen said. “David [O. Russell] has a different style from Francis Ford Coppola and it’s very exciting to be able to go with that, ‘cause I don’t like just being left to my own devices ‘cause, man, I’ll milk it you give me a chance. I’d rather have a strong director. I prefer really working hand in hand because if they are a very good director, then you know what they want. And they’ve gotta figure out how to get it out of you.” “It’s usually the script first,” she stressed. “I work with a lot of first-directors ‘cause most of the movies I make are very small, independent films. So I have to look at their material and then be in conversation with them to see how they visualize the film. And since most of the time I’m more experienced, I sort of want to be able to help them to make this come to reality.”
Photos from three days that Virginia attended the Film Festival have been added to the photogallery. For more festival information, you can visit the official website at www.sarasotafilmfestival.com.
Actors Steve Guttenberg and Virginia Madsen spoke honestly and openly Saturday about the ups and downs of their careers in show business during two separate “In Conversation With” events as part of the 20th annual Sarasota Film Festival in the setting of Florida Studio Theatre’s Bowne’s Lab Theatre.
Virginia Madsen, who grew up in Chicago, told her audience for the Conversation that “acting was all I ever wanted to do… I was a performer, probably, from the time I was crawling.” Interviewed by SFF creative producer Joe Neumaier, Virginia Madsen said of herself as a child, “If I went to a movie, if it was 90 minutes, I’d then take 90 minutes when I got home to act out the entire film. My mother [with whom she years later collaborated on a documentary about women in their older years] was very patient.”
Spending her childhood fascinated by older, black and white movies, often silents, she was also drawn to the classic monster movies starring actors like Bela Lugosi and Lon Chaney. She’s appeared over the years in a few herself, including the acclaimed Candyman but says it can be hard to find good scripts in the genre today, adding that recent hits like Get Out and A Quiet Place might change that.
Virginia Madsen recalled the the rollercoaster rides of her career with candor. After starting out in David Lynch’s epic Dune, she then spent time filming Electric Dreams in Europe. “I was living the dream,” she said ruefully. “But it didn’t stay that way for a long time.”
Virginia Madsen expects when many Sarasota Film Festival goers see the AIDS drama 1985, they will remember lost figures in their own life who were claimed by an epidemic at a time when so little was known. But she also hopes a new generation of filmgoers will consume the period piece. “I would like this film to be there for very young people,” Madsen tells SRQ. “I don’t think the dad in this movie would watch this movie, but I think very young people could be empowered by this story and recognize themselves.”
Madsen in the film plays the mother to main character Adrian (Cory Michael Smith), a closeted gay man who returns to his conservative family to tell them he’s dying. The 56-year-old Madsen in real life was a 24-year-old actress in Hollywood in the year 1985, and knew too many people facing the same struggles and fate. She even had an uncle, one largely estranged from family, who died in the AIDS era, and Madsen had to explain to older family how he died. “There was so much fear and misinformation out there, and so much of people in front of you dying,” she says. “It was terrifying.”
Oscar-nominated actress receives career achievement award, participates in Conversation With series and has new movie showing Three decades after visiting Bradenton to film one of her first movies, Virginia Madsen returns to the area in celebration of a career that’s since earned her Oscar and Golden Globe nominations.
The “Sideways” actress will receive a career achievement award at Sarasota Film Festival and participate in the festival’s In Conversation With series Saturday. She also co-stars in the centerpiece film “1985,” about a gay man struggling to come out to his parents (Madsen and Golden Globe-winning “The Shield” star Michael Chiklis) during the early years of the AIDS crisis.
In a phone interview with the Herald-Tribune, Madsen said part of what attracted her to the film was her familiarity with the era the film depicts. “I was a very young person during that time when nobody knew what AIDS was,” Madsen said. “Now I knew more about it because I was an actress and I’d already had a couple of friends die. But people outside of my community, it was just talked about in hushed tones and they still called it ‘gay cancer.’”
At the same time, she felt the movie had a relevancy to today’s world despite its period setting. “This story is not just about 1985,” Madsen said. “This story is still going on now because there’s still young people who can’t come out to their family, there’s still families who don’t want to talk about their identity of their kids.”