It’s hard to believe that the Gasparilla International Film Festival (GIFF) is only in its sixth year and run almost entirely by volunteers. With an amazing program of films, stars and happenings on tap this weekend, GIFF is a fully loaded affair that comes across more like an event founded decades ago than one that traces its roots all the way back to … 2006.
Interested in A-list films you can’t see anywhere else? Check out Peace, Love and Misunderstanding starring Jane Fonda, Catherine Keener and indie darling Elizabeth Olsen, or The Hunter, with Willem Dafoe. You want to meet stars and celebrities? Make a reservation for dinner with Chazz Palminteri (A Bronx Tale) or Keith David (Platoon, Death at a Funeral). Looking for a cool event you just can’t find anywhere else? Motor up to the top of the Hyde Park parking garage for a special drive-in screening of John Carpenter’s The Thing, followed by a raging after-party under the stars. (See p. 48 for more can’t-miss events at the festival.)
GIFF sprawls across multiple locations, including theaters (Tampa Theatre, CineBistro in Old Hyde Park, Muvico Centro Ybor), restaurants (717 South, Blue Dog Bistro) and nightclubs, and will prove to be an endurance challenge for even the most hearty moviegoer. Which means you’re going to have to make some choices. Hopefully you’ll hit the movies made by talented locals, like Subprime or Assisted Fishing, both written and directed by filmmakers with deep ties to the Bay area. (We profiled these filmmakers on the facing page.) But no matter what you see and do at GIFF, it’s sure to be memorable.
And years from now, when the festival celebrates its 20th anniversary, you can scoff like a jaded vet and say, “Yeah, but you should have been there for year six. Now that was a party …”