Seven may be a lucky number, but it also appears to be the tipping point for the 2013 Gasparilla International Film Festival. Compared to previous years, this year’s GIFF line-up is one of the most solid in the festival’s history with commercial fare and independent and local gems slated for screening.

The seventh annual festival is the largest film festival in Tampa, and this year’s schedule is solid and promising. The opening night film Empire State (Dito Montiel, 2013) stars Liam Hemsworth, Dwayne Johnson, and Emma Roberts, and is indicative of the festival’s growth. Other noteworthy films not in competition include The Iceman (Ariel Vromen, 2012), Olympus Has Fallen (Antoine Yuqua, 2013), and Disconnect (Henry Alex Rubin, 2012). However, its commitment to independent and Florida-based production is still present. Pharmboy, directed by Lawrence Feeney, was written, produced, and screened in Pasco County within ninety days, a testament to filming in a welcoming community.

For those not from the Tampa area, Gasparilla is Tampa’s version of Mardi Gras, based on a regional legend where the pirate José Gaspar invaded the City of Tampa. It is the region’s own celebration of Spring, complete with marathons, food and & art festivals, and since 2007, GIFF.

The majority of the screenings will be held at Tampa’s most prestigious theaters, beginning with the Historic Tampa Theatre on opening night, the Cinebistro at Hyde Park on Wednesday and Thursday, and then Muvico Centro Ybor throughout the rest of the festival weekend.

Some of the special screenings will include the previously reviewed Dead Dad (Ken Adachi, 2012), Masks (Andreas Marshall, 2011), an independent German Giallo throw-back, and Ginger and Rosa (Sally Potter, 2012).

The documentary competition this year tends to point towards a musical theme with three films about music’s legacy and even its future. AM Mayhem (Randall Rehak, 2011) explores the rise and fall of a radio station dedicated to the hip-hop and its mysterious demise. Detroit once featured the Historic Grande Ballroom and Louder Than Love: The Grade Ballroom Story (Tony D’Annunzio, 2012) discusses impact of the venue and the musicians and acts that passed through its hallowed halls. Poster Boys or: The Art of Mobile Recording (Patrick Burke, 2013) chronicles the journey of two musicians who embark on a quaint tour with ambitions to record an album on the road, but rely on poster sales to scrape by. Although screening out of competition, the music theme continues with Killer B3​ (Murv Symour, 2011) which chronicles the rise and sound of the Hammond Organ.

GIFF 2013 has gained the momentum to become a festival with gravitas and its independent selections and larger fare point towards a more mature festival.


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Aaron Weiss founded CinemaFunk in September 2009 after recieving his degree in Cinema Studies from the University of Central Florida. In 2012, he received his Master's in Cinema Studies from the Savannah College of Art and Design. He works full-time as a Senior Web Strategist at Tampa SEO Training Academy. When not doing either, Aaron is watching Indycar races, taking a hike, or riding his bike in Tampa, FL.