'Bushwick' stars Snow, Bautista give Tampa a strong presence at Sundance

Published January 24 2017
Updated January 25 2017

Leaders of the film commission offices from the Tampa Bay area are in Park City, Utah, this week for the Sundance Film Festival.

As the largest independent film festival in the United States, it's an ideal place to meet directors and producers and sell them on making their next film or screening of their current movie here.

And these local leaders are reporting back that the talent in this region is on full display at this year's festival, making their jobs easier.

Among the darlings that are screening at the annual event is Bushwick, an action flick about a modern-day U.S. civil war starring Tampa native Brittany Snow and Tampa transplant Dave Bautista.

"This is a great compliment to our area," said Dale Gordon, Tampa-Hillsborough film and digital media commissioner who is at the festival. "Brittany Snow was raised here, so it shows this is the type of city from where stars emerge. And Bautista is a star who could have lived anywhere but chose Tampa for its quality of life."

Added Tony Armer, St. Petersburg-Clearwater film commissioner who also is in Utah: "Having two of the actors from our area in the film is a great way to draw attention to the talent we have locally."

In the film, when a Texas military force invades their Brooklyn neighborhood, 20-year-old Lucy (played by Snow) and a war veteran Stupe (Bautista) must depend on each other to survive.

The blonde-haired, blue-eyed Snow, a 30-year-old graduate of Gaither High School now residing in Los Angeles, is best known for her starring role in the musical Pitch Perfect and its sequel.

The monstrous muscle-bound Bautista, 48 and raised in Washington D.C., rose from poverty to fame as a champion in World Wrestling Entertainment and dabbled in mixed martial arts before landing the role of Drax the Destroyer in the Marvel blockbuster movie Guardians of the Galaxy.

Despite their different backgrounds, Bushwick producer Adam Folk told the Times the two developed a friendship and credited that in part to their Tampa link.

"When Dave mentioned he lived in Florida, that started a connection," he said. "She still has family there. It was a real bond they had."

Tampa's Gasparilla International Film Festival and St. Petersburg's Sunscreen Film Festival had members of their programming committees attend a screening of Bushwick, but neither would comment on if they would try to bring it to their events.

Producer Folk said that regardless of whether this area gets a festival screening, due to the positive reaction it has received, he is confident his independent film will have a theatrical run.

Contact Paul Guzzo at pguzzo@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3394. Follow @PGuzzoTimes.