8th Annual Gasparilla International Film Festival

When I was given the opportunity to review the Gasparilla International Film Festival back at the end of march I thought it would be a fun an exciting experience. Getting to see premiers of the movies, getting to have the cast and crew in the audience, getting to sit in for Q & A sessions - all of that peaked my interest. I did have a stereotypical idea of the types of films they would play, however. I wasn't sure if I would be all that interested in them. For some reason I thought you had to have a super "artsy" mind to be into these types of films.

Gladly I was able to attend the event because my mindset has definitely changed and now I'm much more open-minded about any sort of film event. I enjoyed all of the films I got to experience and had a great time.

The Gasparilla International Film Festival was in it's 8th year this year and was held in Tampa from March 19 to March 23. Of course, being a film festival, there were movies to be seen, but there were other events taking place during that weekend as well. There were parties, educational panels, and award ceremonies just to name a few. Most events were open to the public with the purchase of a ticket. To see the films you could purchase an individual ticket for the specific one you wanted to see, or you could buy an unlimited screening pass that gave you access to any of the films throughout the entire film fest (with the exception of a small select few).

I was lucky enough to have an unlimited screening pass so I checked out the event calendar, which gave the time and location of each film, and watched some trailers. I pick out a couple of films I definitely wanted to see.

Tampa Theater

Opening night was March 19th and the Opening night film, "There's Always Woodstock" was being shown at Tampa Theater. I was excited about the venue for this film. I had never been to Tampa theater, but I had heard good things. Plus it looked awesome from outside - reminding my of the theaters on Broadway. I was looking forward to watching a film in a theater setting.

We had a pre-theater meal at FlyBar, which was very close to Tampa theater. They had a great selection of appetizers and lucky for us it was happy hour. We ordered a bunch of appetizers and shared them all. Sometimes I like doing that better than just getting one big entree. I also got to have some of their delicious Sangria. After that we walked over to the theater.

A sculpture we stumbled upon on the way to the theater

We picked up our tickets using our unlimited screen passes, and met up with Caitlyn outside the theater. We chatted for a bit because the doors weren't open quite yet. There was a pre-show party being held there for opening night and there were just finishing that up. There was an energetic vibe going on outside the theater and everyone seemed pretty eager to see what the opening night film had in store for us. 

Adam and I in front of Tampa Theater

The doors opened at we found seats on the upper level of the theater. It was a great view point because you got to really take in the beauty of the theater from where we were, plus you could see the screen really well. 

This picture doesn't do justice to the beauty of Tampa Theater

The night started off with a few speeches about the film festival and then in was on to the actual film.

The movie "There's Always Woodstock" is a romantic comedy about a frustrated musician who is stuck in a life she doesn't really like. She winds up getting fired and comes home to find her boyfriend with another woman. She decided to move back into her family home in Woodstock and write and perform music as she has always wanted to. 

I truly enjoyed the movie. I had some pre-conceived notions about what the film might be like since I knew I was a lower-budget film. I was thinking it was going to look like it was filmed on someone's home camcorder. (Silly of me, I know). However, if I had not been told it was filmed on a low budget, I wouldn't have even noticed. I'm no film expert, but I wouldn't be able to set it apart from any other movie I see on the big screen. 

After the film was over came the most interesting part of the film festival, at least in my eyes. After each film screening came a Q & A session with members of the cast and crew (writer, director, actor, etc depending on the film). I found this to be extremely interesting because you got to learn about how the film was made from everyone's perspective. You got to get inside the head of the writer and she what s/he was thinking when they were coming up with the movie. You got to learn about how the actor(s) prepared for their roles, and what inspired them. Audience members got to ask questions and it was a very fun and rewarding experience.

Q & A Session after "There's Always Woodstock"

Opening night was a blast and it really got me excited for what else was to come for the rest of the film festival. 

Me and Caitlyn on the Red Carpet =)

Read about the rest of the festival here!