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Giancarlo Esposito, Eric Stoltz and Tommy Wiseau to appear at growing Gasparilla film fest in Tampa

By Steve Persall
This image released by AMC shows Walter White, played by Bryan Cranston, left, and drug kingpin Gus Fring, played by Giancarlo Esposito in a scene from the third season of "Breaking Bad." (AP Photo/AMC, Ursula Coyote)

Two of Tampa Bay’s longest running cinema showcases are teaming up, celebrities are showing up and the movie slate is looking up.

Those are takeaways from Thursday’s lineup release by the 12th annual Suncoast Credit Union Gasparilla International Film Festival, running Mar. 20-25 at more locations than ever.

That’s because Gasparilla is collaborating for the first time ever with the 22nd annual Tampa Bay Jewish Film Festival, sharing its outreach to five venues across Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties. That festival previously announced its lineup.

Most of Gasparilla’s special events will still swirl around Centro Ybor 20 in Ybor City.

Those highlights include a Q&A with actor Eric Stoltz (Mask, Pulp Fiction) after a Mar. 24 screening of his latest directing effort Class Rank. Show time is 7 p.m.

Opening night Mar. 20 brings actor Giancarlo Esposito (Breaking Bad, Do the Right Thing) to Tampa Theatre with Stuck, a musical drama about New Yorkers stranded on a subway. Director Michael Berry will join Esposito for a Q&A after the show.

The least talented celebrities on Gasparilla’s list may be their hottest attractions. Tommy Wiseau and Greg Sestero, the real-life disaster artists who made The Room, will present their new movie Best F(r)iends on Mar. 23 at 9 p.m.

OH, HI, TOMMY: ’The Room’ stars Tommy Wiseau and Greg Sestero to appear at Gasparilla film fest in Tampa

Gasparilla’s closing night selection is Brothers in Arms, a documentary directed by Paul Sanchez about the making of Oliver Stone’s Academy Award winning Vietnam drama Platoon. Brothers in Arms is narrated by Charlie Sheen.

A half-dozen features competing for prizes include Stoltz’s Class Rank, in which a pair of high school outcasts try taking over the school board. Kristin Chenoweth and Bruce Dern co-star.

Other features in competition showcase performances by Oscar winner Ellen Burstyn (The House of Tomorrow), Lou Diamond Phillips (Quest) plus Chris O’Dowd and Andie MacDowell as grieving siblings in Love After Love.

The international feature competition includes two films with Hollywood cred: Borg vs. McEnroe casts Stellan Skarsgard and Shia LaBoeuf as true-life tennis rivals; Harvey Keitel and Toni Collette star in the dinner party farce Madame.

Another half-dozen features are being screened out of competition. One is John Curran’s drama Chappaquiddick starring Jason Clarke as Sen. Ted Kennedy during the scandal haunting his career. Jon Hamm stars as a hostage negotiator in Beirut while Ethan Hawke plays a preacher in First Reformed, directed by Paul Schrader.

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s profile RBG leads the documentary competition. For disco era nostalgia there’s The Fabulous Allan Carr, who made Grease the word and La Cage aux Folles into a Broadway hit. Eugene Jarecki’s latest, The King, parallels Elvis Presley’s selling out with America’s.

The underground Graveyard Shift lineup includes Sestero’s Best F(r)iends co-starring Wiseau as a mortician drumming up business with a drifter played by the director. Other titles include Let the Corpses Tan from Belgium, The Spanish import Cold Skin and Constance Wu (TV’s Fresh Off the Boat) in the lesbian-themed comedy The Feels.

This year’s Made in Florida sidebar includes the eco-documentary Dispatches from the Gulf 2: Research, Innovation, Discovery and Joe Herbert’s midlife crisis comedy Between Waves.

Complete information for all screenings and events is available at

Contact Steve Persall at [email protected] or (727) 893-8365. Follow @StevePersall.