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Gasparilla International Film Festival opens with 'Empire State'

After a pirate invasion, an arts festival and a concert weekend, there's another event calling itself "Gasparilla" coming up.

The seventh annual Gasparilla International Film Festival begins Tuesday and continues through March 24 at several Tampa venues. The lineup is available at but here's some information to get you through the first couple of days, with more details coming next week:

Tuesday's opening night selection at Tampa Theatre is the world premiere of Empire State, starring Dwayne ("The Rock") Johnson as a New York police officer on the trail of childhood friends (Liam Hemsworth, Michazel Angarano) plotting an armored car robbery.

Empire State's director Dito Montiel will attend the screening. Maybe someone will ask him about the Tampa refugee whom he directed three times: Channing Tatum (The Son of No One, Fighting, A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints).

VIP tickets ($60) gain access to the 6 p.m. pre-show mixer in Tampa Theatre's grand lobby, including beverages and food samplings from several Tampa restaurants. Doors open at 7:30 for general admission, movie-only ticket holders ($15). Tickets are available online at or the Tampa Theatre box office.

Gasparilla festival screenings move to Cinebistro in Hyde Park on Wednesday, highlighted by the Florida premiere of director Sally Potter's Ginger & Rosa (6 p.m.) starring Elle Fanning. Wednesday's lineup also includes a free educational seminar at 5:30 with Empire State producer Randall Emmett of Miami, whose recent films include End of Watch, Alex Cross and Broken City.

Full disclosure: I'm serving as a judge for Gasparilla's documentary competition and firmly recommend Wednesday's 10:35 p.m. Florida premiere of Louder Than Love. Tony D'Annunzio's movie chronicles the historic Grande ballroom in Detroit where rock and roll royalty kicked out the jams in the late 1960's. Plus you get the chance to hear Ted Nugent making sense for a change.

Single-screening tickets are $12, and festival passes to all movies ($100) are available online.

Next Thursday's Weekend will include highlight's of the Gasparilla festival's remaining events that includes celebrating the tenth anniversary of The Punisher filming in Tampa, and a career tribute to its star, Golden Globe nominee Thomas Jane (Boogie Nights, The Mist, HBO's *61 and Hung).

Gasparilla International Film Festival opens with 'Empire State' 03/13/13 [Last modified: Thursday, March 14, 2013 10:44am]
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