It took designers Jason Champion and Laurie Bell 475 yards of white fabric and 20,000 staples to create the elaborate hallway that served as a portal to Saturday’s poolside party and made everyone who passed through it feel like a star.
It was the second year in a row Lakewood Ranch’s most exclusive development was host to the Sarasota Film Festival’s Reel Experience.
“It’s been amazing and wonderful,” Champion said of the design process. “I hope the design brings a better vibe, a smooth and more comfortable vibe to people of all generations.”
Even a little rain didn’t dampen the spirits at the ’50s fete as all different kinds of food from – sushi to beignets – was up for grabs. Those who desired could partake in hand-rolled cigars and, of course, liquor flowed freely.
Saturday Night Live alum Nora Dunn, was among the familiar faces. Dunn is one of the comedic forces who make an appearance in “Certifiably Jonathan,” a documentary of sorts that premiers at the festival today.
The film is filled with comedic geniuses who are trying to help Jonathan Winters get his sense of humor back. Everyone from Winters’ “Mork & Mindy” co-star Robin Williams to Sarah Silverman gets in the act.
One of the evening’s most treasured guests, Joe “King of Voice Overs” Sirola, talked about some of his favorite films to be shown, including “Certifiably Jonathan.”
“I knew him before he quit drinking,” Sirola said.
Then again, in a career that spans five decades, there aren’t many influential actors Sirola hasn’t met, but his passion for film is just as strong today.
He raved about his friend Michael Badalucco’s film “Who is Norman Lloyd,” which will premier at the festival next weekend, and William H. Macy’s “The Deal,” which had its showing Friday night.
“Macy’s film was great too,” he said. “I laughed so hard.”
In his long career, Sirola has done everything from beckoning people to Club Med to convincing them to rent from Hertz. He has been the voice of Boar’s Head for 25 years.
That familiar voice can spin tails of the golden days of Hollywood when he and best friend Richard Burton used to go out on the town. He even travelled with Burton to film Cleopatra.
“I quit ‘Molly Brown’ and the soap opera I was working on and went along with him. He was wonderful,” Sirola said.
In addition to the notable faces that peppered the crowd, the Rat Pack-era feel of the party packed a punch.
Swinging tunes from St. Petersburg scenesters Lounge Cat added to the ’50s flair.
The band is no stranger to film festivals but it was their first time at Sarasota’s.
“I love film festivals,” said Eddie Rosicky, lead singer of Lounge Cat.
Rosicky actually just returned from South by Southwest in Austin where he had an opportunity to see the new Bela Fleck film “Throw Down Your Heart,” which plays Sunday in Sarasota.
“I wept it was so good,” Rosicky said.