Two recent film festivals kicked off at Tampa Theatre, both drawing lively opening night crowds and rave reviews.
Kabluey, a film produced by Tampa native Jeff Balis, launched the second Gasparilla Film Festival on Feb. 27.
Balis' friends, relatives, neighbors and former teachers filled the theater, cheering for the Berkeley Prep and Harvard grad who got his start as a producer on HBO's Project Greenlight in 2002.
During a Q & A session after the movie with writer/actor Scott Prendergast, and later at Spain restaurant, Balis updated his fans on his life since he produced Waiting in 2005; the sequel, Still Waiting, and his next flick, a horror-comedy Infestation.
On March 6, the 12th annual Tampa Bay Jewish Film Festival opened with Making Trouble, a movie about six legendary American Jewish women comics.
Comedian Cory Kahaney, who appears in the film, warmed up the crowd of 450 with her funny standup shtick and answered questions afterward.
Patrons and major donors met Kahaney first at a cocktail reception; others joked with her over dessert in the lobby.
Ruth Warshaw, 95, especially enjoyed sharing vivid memories of Molly Picon, Fanny Brice, Sophie Tucker and many other Jewish comedians she laughed at years ago on trips to New York.
When the Tampa Woman's Club first began hosting Fashionollia, guests would have worn hats and white gloves to the annual luncheon at the Renaissance Hotel International Plaza.
The mix of daytime, evening and Juniorette members early this month was just as trendy for their time, noted Joann Guagliardo, commentator at the club's 60th fashion show fundraiser.
One of the models showing off fashions from Dillard's was her daughter, bikini-modeling mother of four, WFLA-Ch. 8 co-anchor Gayle Guyardo.
Also on the runway: former Cincinnati Bengal Talib "Ty" Douthard; WFLA-Ch. 8 sportscaster Dave Reynolds, WFTS-Ch. 28 anchor Sarina Fazan and St. Pete socialites Donna Main and Crystal Harrington.
But the youngest models, many getting help from the Children's Cancer Center, earned the most applause.
Fashionollia co-chairs Kathleen Hudson, Cynthia Robinson and Mary Newton expect to donate event proceeds of about $15,000 to the center, which offers emotional, educational and financial support to children with cancer or chronic blood disorders.
"We are so much more than lunch and fashion shows,'' president Laura Lang said. "This represents 60 years of doing good things.''
Laid back and guayabera-casual, Cigar City Celebration is the party for guys who want to kick back and light up on behalf of Achieve Tampa Bay, formerly United Cerebral Palsy.
Looked like plenty of women among the 350 guests at the Cuban Club also sampled from the 12 cigar manufacturers, mostly new vendors this year.
The aroma of garlic mingled with tobacco as Events by Amore piled up mussels, paella and other Latin specialties. Silent auction items favored cigars, humidors and artwork by Ferdie Pacheco; the live auction included big-ticket travel packages.
Hillsborough Community College drama students presented a scene from Anna in the Tropics, the play they will perform next month. Columbia restaurant flamenco dancers added more cultural significance to the evening.
Tampa East Sertoma members became blackjack dealers, providing the gaming tables as their donation to the March 1 event. Another big boost came from the 13 Ugly Men, a $10,000 check from proceeds of the Get Roasted party on Thanksgiving Eve. Cigar City magazine sponsored the bolita game.
All hail Patricia Heid, the 16th O'Malley to rule Ye Loyal Krewe of Grace O'Malley.
She was escorted to the throne by 13 previous O'Malleys at the Celebration Ball on March 1 at the India Cultural Center.
Ball chairwoman Linda Cone, O'Malley VI; Jackie Kasperski, O'Malley VII and Lady Kathryn Daley planned an Irish theme, with plenty of Guinness, for guests who came from local, New Orleans and Tallahassee krewes. J.T. and the Silver Eagle band kept the party rocking.