Wednesday, January 17, 2018
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Chazz Palminteri, Keith David to be honored by Gasparilla film festival

Academy Award nominee Chazz Palminteri and character actor Keith David were announced Monday as honorees of the sixth annual Gasparilla International Film Festival, running March 29 to April 1 at various Tampa venues.

Palminteri, 59, above, who pursued The Usual Suspects, wrote and starred in A Bronx Tale and scored a best supporting actor Oscar nod for Bullets Over Broadway, will receive the festival's career achievement award during opening night festivities at Tampa Theatre.

David, 55, below, will accept a lifetime achievement award for a resume stretching back to 1982's The Thing, a horror flick getting its own unique showcase — in a temporary drive-in theater constructed atop a Hyde Park Village parking garage.

Nearly 120 feature films, documentaries and shorts comprise the festival's lineup, including the opening night selection Peace, Love and Misunderstanding, starring Jane Fonda as a present-day hippie teaching Woodstock ways to her grandchildren (Elizabeth Olsen, Chace Crawford).

The closing night selection is Daniel Nettheim's The Hunter, starring Willem Dafoe as a mercenary tracking the world's last Tasmanian tiger.

The festival lineup also includes The Cabin in the Woods, a new spin on old slasher movie themes co-written by geek god Joss Whedon (TV's Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly).

This year's Rising Star Award recipient Ryan O'Nan will present his directorial debut The Brooklyn Brothers Beat the Best, staring Andrew McCarthy, Wilmer Valderrama and 2010 Rising Star Award winner Arielle Kebbel.

A list of festival selections plus advance ticket sales are available at gasparillafilmfestival.com.

First-year festival president Joe Restaino said Monday at Cinebistro Hyde Park that this year's lineup includes eight films previously shown at the prestigious Toronto and Sundance festivals. "That's the most ever," he said. Restaino also expects "about 85 to 90 percent" of the selections will be accompanied by their directors, producers or stars.

In addition to movie screenings, the Gasparilla festival will present its first outdoor concert on March 30 at the Hyde Park Village fountain, with music by Busted Blues, plus food and beer trucks. Other parties includes an opening night shindig at Fly Bar, celebrity bartending Mr. 30 at 717 South nightclub, and a closing night bash at a site to be determined.

The festival also continues its film education policy with free seminars on acting, auditioning, distribution and story development.

But what sets this festival apart is the plan to turn a Hyde Park parking garage into a drive-in theater for one night, March 31. Executive director Monica Varner said a crane will hoist a 12 by 24-foot LED screen to the rooftop, with a DVD projected by computer and audio pumped through car radios. There will be spaces for nearly 75 cars at $30 each, with plenty of room and rented chairs for walk-ups at $10 per person.

Steve Persall can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8365.

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