Sarasota Film Festival Thelma
A still from Thelma courtesy of SFF

The Sarasota Film Festival winners have been announced for the 2024 jury and audience awards, and they include Thelma and Sugarcane.

The 26th annual festival ended on Sunday after a 10-day lineup from April 5-14, including many film screenings, filmmaker Q&As, panel conversations, and educational outreach in Sarasota, Florida. The closing night screening was Steve Buscemi’s The Listener, with the director in attendance alongside his co-producer Wren Arthur for their Olive Pictures production banner. Following the screening, Buscemi sat for a career retrospective conversation moderated by David Fear, Senior Editor and Critic at Rolling Stone

Sarasota native Austin Abrams won the festival’s Rising Star Award. The actor is known for AMC’s The Walking Dead, Netflix’s Dash & Lily and Do Revenge, HBO’s Euphoria, and Bleecker Street’s The Starling Girl. He’ll next be seen in Sony Pictures’ upcoming feature Wolfs alongside George Clooney and Brad Pitt.

Thelma, the feature directorial debut of Josh Margolin, took home the festival’s narrative feature jury prize. The plot follows Thelma (June Squib) and Ben (Richard Roundtree), two silver-haired dynamos who prove that age is merely a number.

Other notable Sarasota Film Festival winners include Sugarcane directed by Emily Kassie and Julian Brave NoiseCat, which took home the documentary feature jury prize. The film covers the abuse of First Nations students at the St. Joseph’s Mission Residential School in British Columbia, a Catholic church-run school that closed decades ago.

Sarasota Film festival alok
A still from Alok

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The festival‘s Independent Visions Award, which recognizes an independent feature from an emerging filmmaker, went to Arthur Egeli’s Art Thief. Other winners include best narrative short for Shawn Butcher’s Lessons; Alex Hedison’s Alok for best documentary short; and Volker Schlecht’s The Waiting for best international short.

The local audience award went to Liam Jordan’s Into the Spotlight: The Jake Ilardi Story, and the industry audience award went to Dawn Porter’s Luther: Never Too Much.

“As the curtain closes on our 26th annual event, we at the Sarasota Film Festival are thrilled to continue bringing some of the year’s finest film offerings to our Florida Gulf Coast community,” said SFF president and chairman of the board Mark Famiglio.

“Congratulations to all of this year’s award winners. I am proud to welcome and recognize filmmakers from around the world here in Sarasota, and it is our hope that they will continue serving as pillars of inspiration for the budding young creatives we have in our own backyard. Thank you to all of the patrons, supporters, staff, and volunteers who made this year’s festival a success.” 

See the Full List of Sarasota Film Festival Winners Below

Jury Awards 

Narrative Feature Competition Winner 


Director: Josh Margolin 

Documentary Feature Competition Winner 


Directors: Emily Kassie & Julian Brave NoiseCat 

Documentary Feature Jury Special Mention 


Directors: Brendan Bellomo & Slava Leontyev 

Independent Visions Competition Winner 


Director: Arthur Egeli

Narrative Short Competition Winner 


Director: Shawn Butcher 

Documentary Short Competition Winner 


Director: Alex Hedison 

International Short Competition Winner 


Director: Volker Schlecht 

Audience Awards 

Local Audience Award Winner 


Director: Liam Jordan 

Industry Audience Award Winner 


Director: Dawn Porter 

2024 Sarasota Film Festival Jury 

Narrative Feature Jury 

Megan Colligan, Veteran Film Executive 

Alex Hedison, Photographer and Filmmaker 

Katie Martin Kelley, Warner Bros. Pictures Communications Executive 

Wynn Thomas, Production Designer and Former Governor of the Designers Branch of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences 

Documentary Feature Jury 

Wren Arthur, Producer and Co-Founder, Olive Pictures 

Christian Blauvelt, Digital Director, IndieWire 

Eric Deggans, TV Critic, NPR 

Jaie Laplante, Artistic Director, DOC NYC 

Main Image: A still from Thelma courtesy of the Sarasota Film Festival