Thursday, June 21, 2018
Things To Do

'Chu and Blossom' a hidden gem filmed in Tampa Bay

The indie delight Chu and Blossom was a stealth production in 2012, slipping in and out of Tampa Bay communities "like a ninja," according to its co-writer and star Ryan O'Nan.

Sunday night, Chu and Blossom returned with fanfare, charming the closing night crowd at the eighth annual Gasparilla International Film Festival. It was the Florida premiere of this warmly weird coming-of-age comedy, that doesn't yet have the distribution deal much worse films have gotten. Exposure at next month's Sarasota and Florida film festivals should help.

Chu and Blossom is the story of Joonsup Chu, a South Korean exchange student well played by co-writer and co-director Charles Chu. He's an outsider from the outset, an engineering prodigy shyly speaking broken English and so tall that he's called Godzilla. Chu meets Butch Blossom, a head case played by O'Nan with a Sam Rockwell vibe. Their friendship is forged, tested and joined by Chu's pink-haired photography classmate Cherry Swade (a winning Caitlin Stasey).

The movie includes supporting roles for Oscar winner Mercedes Ruehl (The Fisher King) as Chu's blindly racist host, Alan Cumming and Annie Potts as Butch's uncle and aunt — each gay, in the script's screwy logic — plus familiar faces Melanie Lynskey and Richard Kind. A minor complaint is that some of their scenes could be tighter or excised for pacing's sake. But when famed names get attached to a low-budget indie, you use them.

Bringing Chu and Blossom to Gasparilla was a no-brainer since program director Joe Restaino is a producer on the project. O'Nan's directing debut Brooklyn Brothers Beat the Best earned Gasparilla's top honor and his rising star award in 2011. He had a screenplay written years ago with his best friend Chu, liked the "local positivity" he found around Tampa Bay, and decided to use Florida locations, extending as far as Plant City, Lakeland, Marion Co. and Ocala.

The movie isn't packed with widely recognizable landmarks; mostly town plazas, woodsy exteriors and nondescript interiors. Restaino said the production even avoided showing palm trees when possible, to create an anywhere look.

The result is a movie deserving to be shown everywhere. Chu and Blossom is a cheery addition to Tampa Bay's cinema history.

• • •

Before Sunday's screening of Chu and Blossom the Gasparilla festival honored these films and artists, selected by jury and audience popularity:

Grand jury awards

Narrative feature: Mark Raso's Copenhagen; Acting: Frederikke Dahl Hansen, Copenhagen; Directing: Michael Wechsler, The Red Robin; Screenwriting: S.J. Thompson, A Long Way from Paris; Documentary: The Longest Game by Camille Thoman; World showcase: Melaza by Carlos Lechuga; New visions: Sand Castles by Clenet Verdi-Rose; Short film: Gianluca Sodaro's God's Got His Head in the Clouds; College showcase: The Bright Side by Sarah Wilson Thacker.

Audience awards

Narrative feature: The Boys of Abu Ghraib by Luke Moran; Documentary: Ride with Larry, directed by Ricardo Villerreal and Andrew Rubin; Short film: Sam Albis' Chub; High school showcase: Pendemonium by Wesley Hayes; College showcase: Justin Liberman's Tobacco Burn; Florida production: ... And a Bag of Chips by Saban Mayfield.

Steve Persall can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8365. Follow @StevePersall on Twitter.

Comments

Sports on TV/radio for Friday, June 22

TODAYBaseballYankees at Rays7 p.m.Fox Sun; 620-AMDodgers at Mets7 p.m.MLBMarlins at Rockies8:30 p.m.FSFCFLWinnipeg at Montreal7 p.m.ESPN2College baseball, World SeriesMississippi State vs. Oregon State3 p.m.ESPNArkansas vs. Florida-Texas Tech winner8...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Suspect arrested in rapper XXXTentacion’s shooting death

Suspect arrested in rapper XXXTentacion’s shooting death

FORT LAUDERDALE — Authorities in Florida have arrested a suspect in the killing of rising rap star XXXTentacion, who was fatally shot in his luxury BMW electric car as he left an upscale motorcycle dealership.Dedrick Devonshay Williams, 22, of Pompan...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Go Skateboarding Day celebrated at Bro Bowl in Tampa

Go Skateboarding Day celebrated at Bro Bowl in Tampa

Skaters sit on the top of a ramp during the Go Skateboarding Day at the Bro Bowl located at Perry Harvey Sr. Park Thursday, June 21, 2018 in Tampa._informq.push(['embed']);Markus Jalaber, 23, of Tampa, grabs $40 after completing a backside flip to fl...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Column: We can still save wild Florida, but time for panthers, black bears and us is running out

Column: We can still save wild Florida, but time for panthers, black bears and us is running out

When we dipped our paddles into Florida Bay at the mangrove fringe of Everglades National Park and took the first strokes of the 2012 Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition, I’m not sure I fully understood the scope of the challenge we were facing. Six...
Updated: 6 hours ago
MegaCon Tampa Bay celebrity guests include ‘Walking Dead,’ ‘Back to the Future’ and ‘Doctor Who’ stars

MegaCon Tampa Bay celebrity guests include ‘Walking Dead,’ ‘Back to the Future’ and ‘Doctor Who’ stars

MegaCon Tampa Bay has announced a lineup of celebrity guests that will likely conjure a mix of excitement and nostalgia among local geeks.They include Jeffrey Dean Morgan, who currently plays Negan on The Walking Dead, Christopher Lloyd, best known f...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Review: Look inside the tent of a Gibsonton-based sideshow in Tessa Fontaine’s memoir ‘The Electric Woman’

Review: Look inside the tent of a Gibsonton-based sideshow in Tessa Fontaine’s memoir ‘The Electric Woman’

Grief can unhinge us, disconnect us from our daily lives, make us do things we’ve never done. Grief made Tessa Fontaine run away and join the circus.To be more exact, the sideshow: World of Wonders, the last traditional traveling sideshow in the coun...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Like ‘a beer after a hockey fight,’ how to celebrate Canada Day in Tampa Bay

Like ‘a beer after a hockey fight,’ how to celebrate Canada Day in Tampa Bay

The event hopes to promote friendship between our fighting nations.
Published: 06/21/18
Luke Bryan talks love, acceptance and his growing depth before Tampa stop

Luke Bryan talks love, acceptance and his growing depth before Tampa stop

It’s been awhile since Luke Bryan crashed our party. The country music superstar who has racked up awards hasn’t blessed us ’round these parts in awhile. Bryan last played Tampa back in 2015. "We played many multiple nights at the (MidFlorida Credit ...
Published: 06/21/18
Top things to do in Tampa Bay for June 22

Top things to do in Tampa Bay for June 22

Daryl Hall and John Oates with Train : The legendary number-one selling duo and Train perform full sets and a joint set. Kandace Springs opens. 7 p.m., Amalie Arena, 401 Channelside Drive, Tampa. $45.75-$125. (813) 301-2500; amaliearena.com.St. Pete ...
Published: 06/21/18
Three movies are in the works about Hulk Hogan and Gawker. Will they remember who’s the victim?

Three movies are in the works about Hulk Hogan and Gawker. Will they remember who’s the victim?

Sonny BunchAccording to Vulture, there are three separate movies in the works about the downfall of the New York-based gossip blog Gawker.One is based on the book Conspiracy: Peter Thiel, Hulk Hogan, Gawker, and the Anatomy of Intrigue; it will be a...
Published: 06/21/18