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Gasparilla Film Festival lineup has plenty of winning notes

One highlight of the fifth annual Gasparilla International Film Festival will be a screening of Oliver Stone's Platoon, with Oscar nominee Tom Berenger accepting a career achievement award.

Festival treasurer Chad Moore joked Tuesday that Berenger's co-star, whose career isn't achieving lately, won't attend.

"Charlie Sheen has not been invited to that retrospective screening," Moore deadpanned. "If he does show up, we cannot be held liable for what happens."

Berenger and character actor M. Emmet Walsh — you know his face, if not his name — top the guest list for the festival, slated for March 24-27 at theaters and nightclubs in downtown Tampa, Hyde Park and Ybor City. This year's lineup includes 80 films from around the world, parties every night, and panel discussions for aspiring filmmakers.

Complete information, show times and advance tickets are available at www.giff2011.com. Ticket packages range from $50 to $1,000, and individual screening tickets are $10. Special events like the opening festivities at Tampa Theatre, and the closing night party at the Kress Building carry prices from $15 to $100.

Three Gasparilla selections debuted at this year's Sundance Film Festival: Win Win, starring Paul Giamatti as a high school wrestling coach; Hot Coffee, a documentary focused on the famous McDonald's lawsuit; and the opening night feature, When the Music Stopped, about a father and his disabled son bonding through rock music.

Music is a key theme in a trio of anticipated documentaries, including the world premiere of Color Me Obsessed, chronicling '80s rockers the Replacements; Everyday Sunshine: The Story of Fishbone; and Big Shoes: Walking and Talking the Blues, starring the Scissormen, Nashville cats who'll play a live set at New World Brewery in Ybor City on March 26.

Movies with local ties include Black, White and Blues, starring Michael Clarke Duncan, directed by Mario Van Peebles and produced by Tampa resident Charlie Poe. The Uh-Oh! Show directed by gore pioneer Herschell Gordon Lewis is co-produced by Tampa Bay filmmakers Andy Lalino and Andrew Allan.

And if you've wondered whatever happened to former Tampa Bay Buccaneers free spirit Simeon Rice, he directed the short film When I Was King, making its world premiere at Gasparilla.

There's also a Cuban cinema sidebar, a tribute to blind director Joseph M. Monks, and a screening of the cult phenomenon The Room, just for laughs. The closing night feature at Tampa Theatre is Square Grouper: The Godfathers of Ganja, chronicling south Florida's marijuana culture in the 1980s, directed by Billy Corbin (Cocaine Cowboys), who will attend.

Overall, it's the strongest lineup Gasparilla has delivered in its five-year history. President Eric Polins said Tuesday that last year's festival was the first ever operating in the black, which other festivals wish they could claim. The Gasparilla International Film Festival appears to be winning, even without Charlie Sheen.

Steve Persall can be reached at persall @sptimes.com or (727) 893-8365.

Gasparilla Film Festival lineup has plenty of winning notes 03/08/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 8, 2011 7:45pm]

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