Gasparilla International Film Festival 2012
"It starts with a dream,'' said actor Chazz Palminteri, beaming at his mother as he received the Gasparilla International Film Festival's 2012 Career Achievement Award on opening night, March 29, at Tampa Theatre. Patrons munched Ciro's black truffle popcorn and bites from local restaurants before seeing Peace, Love & Misunderstanding starring Jane Fonda, and then flocking en masse over to Fly bar.
The dream of festival organizers was screening 120 films in three theaters over four days with dozens of actors, directors and producers on hand. "We decided we'd go big or go home," said Rachel Marks Feinman, vice president of the mostly volunteer-run festival.
One wacky idea worked: Renting a crane to dangle a screen over a Hyde Park Village parking garage. "Reels on the Rooftop" on March 31 reeled in 50 cars and 100 people on lawn chairs to watch The Thing starring this year's Life Achievement awardee Keith David. "The rooftop drive-in was so cool we want to do it periodically during the year to get the brand out,'' Feinman said.
Despite a major glitch on the website hurting ticket sales, attendance topped 10,000 by the end of the dazzling, DJ-deafening closing party April 1 in the cavernous Kress Building. Pulsating partiers put on their own glam rock light show, beaming cool laser wands.
Third annual Wishmaker's Ball
Maggie Bolanos, 12, wished to be a red-carpet celebrity surrounded by paparazzi and autograph seekers. Morrisound Studios invited her to record a CD, Neiman Marcus styled her hair, makeup and outfit; Capitol Theater put her name on the marquee and welcomed her on stage.
Colton Seybert, who has leukemia, wished to be a Navy SEAL as 300 guests at the Wishmaker's Ball saw in a video of his trip to Norfolk, Va., where he celebrated his 10th birthday with a military helicopter ride and much more.
Event co-chairs Marcus and Lauren Fernandez were also granted their wish when the 300 ball guests raised enough to grant the 12 wishes for local children with life-threatening illnesses, at about $7,000 per wish. Wendy Ryan and Denis Phillips of WFTS-Ch. 10 emceed for the Make-a-Wish Foundation of Central and Northern Florida, Suncoast Region on March 24 at the Marriott Waterside.
Ninth annual Starry Nights
Nearly everyone followed directions and wore black and white to Starry Nights, the Mental Health Care Foundation's progressive dinner party. But mental health needs — especially regarding the homeless? Not such a black-and-white issue, as the chic crowd heard strolling to four Davis Islands homes April 1.
Don and B. J. Russell rushed back from North Carolina to host 130 guests for dockside cocktails. Dinner was next at Jeff and Terri Willis', then dessert at Randy and Debbie Zomermaand's, ending with cordials and cigars at Jay Singletary's.
Strips of raffle tickets sold in body wrap lengths for $50. Lucky winners included Larry and DeAnne Noyes, who will enjoy a Datz beer tasting party and loaded humidor. That helped the agency net $22,000, double last year, to renovate the Adult Crisis Center on the Seminole Heights campus, one of 24 locations in Hillsborough.