The fourth annual Gasparilla International Film Festival hits Tampa this weekend, bringing a few stars you know, and independently produced movies you should. • The festival also brings parties to downtown, Hyde Park and Channelside, which are often good places to spot visiting celebs like Melora Hardin (TV's The Office) or talk show referee Jerry Springer. • Or maybe at one of four educational panels, like Armand Assante (The Mambo Kings, American Gangster) leading a free discussion of the acting craft at 11:30 a.m. Friday at Cinebistro in Hyde Park. • Better yet, pick a movie that's accompanied by a filmmaker or actor, like Saturday's showing of Charlie Valentine, with this year's Career Achievement Award winner Raymond J. Barry attending, or a number of entries produced in Florida, or by Tampa Bay talent. Tickets to screenings are $10, unless otherwise noted. • Need a handy guide to the stars and bars? Here you go.
The opening film is Happythankyoumoreplease, a Sundance festival fave written and directed by Josh Radnor, star of the hit TV sitcom How I Met Your Mother. Radnor plays a failing writer making an unusual new friend, in an ensemble dramedy set in Manhattan.
Radnor won't be here but co-producer and former Tampa resident Glenn Williamson (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) will introduce the film.
The movie starts at 8 p.m. at the Tampa Theatre, and tickets are $12. For $45, you can schmooze at a two-hour VIP reception in the theater's lobby before the show. Everyone's invited free to Raw Bar afterward for snacks and drink specials.
Centro Ybor is Friday's hot spot for celebrity sightings, with red carpet welcomes for Jerry Springer and Melora Hardin, whose directing debut You shows at 7:30 p.m.
You is the story of a widower (Gildart Jackson) haunted by memories of his dead wife, played by Hardin. She'll also appear at the 6 p.m. VIP preshow party ($25) at Tampa Bay Brewing Company downstairs from the theater. Hardin is also expected to play celebrity bartender at Seven 17 South, 717 S Howard Ave., at a 10 p.m. wrapup party.
Springer appears on behalf of his film, And the Winner Is . . . , a comedy about a mayoral election turned beauty pageant. The movie begins at 5 p.m. but the real show may be Springer greeting fans on his way inside the theater.
Tampa Bay Brewing Company also kicks off a celebration of the skateboarding drama Street Dreams, with the White Kids performing at 8 p.m., a red carpet entrance at 9 and showtime at 10. Director Chris Zamoscianyk will briefly discuss Street Dreams before leading the charge to Reservoir Bar for an after-show party.
Cinebistro in Hyde Park welcomes festival honoree actor Raymond J. Barry and his gangland drama, Charlie Valentine, at 7 p.m.
Meanwhile in Ybor City, Teatro on Seventh in Centro Ybor houses a discounted cocktail hour for Pete and Paul Guzzo's Caged Dreams. The locally produced drama about a mixed martial arts fighter plays at 9:30 p.m.
Saturday's late-night party convenes at AJA in the Channelside district at 10 p.m.
The closing film at Cinebistro, the Tampa-based documentary Thespians (4:30 p.m.), is followed by an awards party atop the Hyde Park Village parking garage at 7 p.m. The open-bar affair costs $60, or $75 for the full VIP treatment. DJ Fresh provides the music, and nobody under 21 is admitted.
Steve Persall can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8365.