This “reporting” style was apparently a hit last year – helps when everyone is buying you a beverage at all the festive after-parties – so here it goes once again…
(If you want to see my professional write-up, read this sucker)
The 6th Annual Gasparilla International Film Festival began with a loaded cocktail reception in the Tampa Theatre lobby. Lifetime achievement recipient Keith David was hanging around talking to anyone who came up to him. This guy simply said congrats to the veteran, and versatile, actor but did ask if he felt awkward receiving an award such as this one…
“Well, I’m not done yet; but it’s always nice to get something,” says a grinning David.
Chazz Palminteri was also in the historic house to receive the career achievement award; and upon reception, the classy thesp gave one of the most sincere and worthwhile acceptance speeches heard in the last few years at this festival. Dude was inspiring and genuine. And no, there are no quotes…you should have been in attendance.
After a few cocktails and talking with independent filmmakers, yours truly vest pockets (yes, I rocked a vest) were full of business cards and promotional materials regarding films being screened over the next three days. While it’s cool to yap with aspiring filmmakers, I forgot the art of hiding my press lament in my fancy vest, for all the great tasting food was devoured by the time I and my trusty photographer, Stephanie Byrne, became free. Man’s got to eat right?
Speaking of my talented photog, she sometimes asks for my guidance on whom to snap pictures of at these events. Now don’t hold this against her, but she didn’t know what Chazz Palminteri looked like. So from a distance, a few of us pointed him out and she was going to go snag the photo. What she came back with was a young balding man approaching thirty. Next time, I’ll go with her.
Coincidentally, that was the funniest part of the night, for the opening night feature, Love, Peace & Misunderstanding was a near dud. Granted, I may be the minority on this based on the general audience reaction. Either way, I told my lovely partner-in-fun that I’m going to need to think of a response to say to people at the after-party, because my opinion will be solicited. And it was. The interesting thing is, yours truly is on the grand jury this year and screened a good amount of the flicks up for consideration at the award ceremony. Every film, literally, was well-done and a pleasure to watch. In other words, I do not feel that I wasted any moment of my life watching the nominees for this year’s grand jury honors. However, please give me back the 90 or so minutes that were spent watching this. The characters, brought to life by an exceptional cast (Elizabeth Olsen, Jane Fonda, Catherine Keener, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, etc.), were fine. But what was the bloody point of the story? By the way, I think I would still hit on a 75 year-old Jane Fonda.
Moving along, Executive Director, a.k.a. miracle worker, Monica Varner took me into the “secret location” for the closing night party and showed me what her elaborate mind had planned this time around. All I can say is: me likie….the party plan that is.
Next stop was the Fly Bar for the opening night after-party. This is always a good opportunity to mingle with the GIFF board members and volunteers that bring this all to life. Basically, they’re good people to party with. Plus, there is some interaction with a few of the celebs that are in town. The majority of my time was spent getting to know Christopher Saint Booth and Philip Adrian Booth, better known as…wait for it…the Booth Bros. An interview with the two passionate, and charismatic, filmmakers will be happening in the next day or two and it is something definitely to look forward to.
So on that note, this slightly buzzed journalist is calling it a night for there is a full morning of interviews he must conduct.
Oh, and the cougar count at this year’s is on pace to break 2011’s record. Have to leave you all with a smile ;).