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Amy Scherzer's Diary

Tampa film festivals light up the screen

17th annual Tampa Bay Jewish Film Festival

"The quality of films and community support gets stronger every year," said Brandy Gold, arts and cultural director of Tampa Jewish Federation, host of the Tampa Bay Jewish Film Festival. About 2,000 attendees screened 10 films, including Hava Nagila, where everyone left Muvico Palm Harbor singing and dancing. Another night, A Bottle in the Gaza Sea brought 300 viewers, mostly students, to the University of South Florida.

Co-chairs Stuart Novick and Loni Shelef and 500 guests honored USF professor Rina Donchin for 11 years of volunteering with the festival on opening night at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts.

Gasparilla International Film Festival

In focus: The seventh Gasparilla International Film Festival, led by president Joseph Restaino and vice president Rachel Marks Feinman, screened 104 films over six days for audiences totaling 13,000. Most were world or Florida premieres, and most were with the filmmaker, cast or crew in attendance. Opening night gave 1,000 movie buffs a red-carpet welcome to Tampa Theatre, premiering Empire State on March 19. Emcee Kathy Fountain introduced actor Michael Angarano, director Dito Montiel and producer Randall Emmett, who received the outstanding achievement in filmmaking award. The party continued past midnight at Anise Global Gastropub.

Nearly 100 flicks later, a Rockabilly Revival wrapped the festival, featuring the Cadillac Bombers at the former Stumps Supper Club on March 23. "Bettie Page" pin-up girls and swing dancers boogied to King of Prussia, the stars of Poster Boys or the Art of Mobile Recording, directed by Patrick Burke, which won Best Documentary per audience votes. The 400 partygoers ate buckets of KFC, biscuits, coleslaw, and mac and cheese.

The economic value of film production impressed Hillsborough County Commissioner Ken Hagen, a festival hero for proposing a Film Commission Authority to work within the Tampa-Hillsborough Economic Development Council.

"Big picture, Tampa Bay is film-friendly," said executive director Monica Varner, who found time to scout locations with a few filmmakers and shepherd actors Colin Farrell, who popped in CineBistro and 717South, and Thomas Jane, who arrived — and remained — barefoot the entire visit.

LAMPLighters' Lights, Fashion, Hope

Bernadette Schurr, longtime LAMPlighter and creator of Lights, Fashion, Hope, was the honoree of the fifth annual fashionable fundraiser at Saks Fifth Avenue. Predicted thunderstorms skipped Tampa and the April 4 benefit drew nearly 300 grateful guests, the largest turnout yet.

Hot coral is the color of the season, discovered the crowd enjoying artistic caricatures, a fun photo booth, oyster shooters from Aqua and chocolate bacon from Puff n' Stuff Catering, among other trendy treats. Julie Nelson won a Dominican Republic vacation; Sandy Peterson won the $500 Saks shopping spree; and Helen Raterman walked off with the Jimmy Choo shoes. Those raffles and a silent auction helped net $50,000 for Metropolitan Ministries and Joshua House.

Dress for Success shopping soiree

Margaret DeBellotte-Torres transfixed the crowd at Dress for Success' shopping soiree, sharing her experiences from "missing person" to finding help from the worldwide organization. Nearly 100 women gathered March 21 to hear her emotional story as well as receive makeup and fashion tips at Dillards at International Plaza.

A fun night, but a serious cause, said board member Amanda Uliano, noting services include interview, resume and computer classes to help disadvantaged women gain economic independence. Volunteer Judy Bensinger emceed and president Suzanne Neff focused on the mission, raising more than $4,000.

Save the date: On Oct. 19 the group will host its 15th anniversary gala.


Today: Wheels of Success eighth annual Hub Cap Awards, dinner and dancing; 6-10 p.m. A La Carte Event Pavilion; keynote speaker Frank Morsani; $135 or $250, couple; (813) 417-1090 or wheelsof

Saturday: Karamu XXV black-tie gala benefits Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo; 1101 W Sligh Ave.; 6:30 p.m.; $250; (813) 935-8552, ext. 275.

Saturday: Fourth annual Wishmaker's Ball benefits Make-A-Wish Central and Northern Florida, Suncoast Region; 6:30 p.m.; Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay; $150; (813) 288-2600.

Saturday: The Gift of Story "Lights So Bright" benefits Powerstories Theatre; 7 p.m.; the Vault; 611 N Franklin St.; $100; ( 813) 253-2000.

April 17: To Life, the Power of Stories benefits for Florida Holocaust Museum, guest speaker film critic Jeffrey Lyons; Loebenberg Humanitarian Award presentation; 5:30 p.m.; Mahaffey Theater, St. Petersburg; $200; (727) 820-0100, ext. 274.

April 18: Judeo-Christian Health Clinic Testimonial Dinner honors Jeff Vinik and Derrick Brooks; 6 p.m.; Higgins Hall; $95; (813) 870-0395, ext. 22.

Tampa film festivals light up the screen 04/11/13 [Last modified: Thursday, April 11, 2013 11:58am]
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