Monday, February 19, 2018
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Gasparilla International Film Festival releases schedule

The Gasparilla International Film Festival officially announces today its celebration of the 10th anniversary of The Punisher filming around Tampa Bay, with the action movie's star Thomas Jane attending.

The six-day festival runs March 19-24, mostly at Cinebistro in Hyde Park and Centro Ybor 20 in Ybor City.

Based on a Marvel Comics series, The Punisher starred Jane (HBO's Hung) as a vigilante stalking a corrupt Tampa businessman (John Travolta) who murdered his family. The 2004 release earned slightly more than its reported $33 million budget at box offices worldwide.

According to festival president and program director Joe Restaino, the Gasparilla lineup includes 40 feature-length works, of which 37 are making their world, U.S. or Florida premieres at the festival.

Three spotlighted features are major studio productions bound for theatrical release, including opening night's Empire State, an armored car robbery yarn starring Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and Liam Hemsworth (The Hunger Games). Empire State (in theaters June 10) is produced by Miami's Randall Emmett, who'll receive the festival's Florida producer of the year award.

Olympus Has Fallen stars Gerard Butler as a secret service agent defending the president (Morgan Freeman) from a White House invasion. Olympus Has Fallen debuts nationwide on March 22. Disconnect is a Crash-style ensemble drama about the perils of a wired world starring Jason Bateman and Alexander Skarsgard, opening in theaters April 12.

Two films in Gasparilla's lineup impressed last September at the Telluride Film Festival: The Iceman is based on the true story of hired killer Richard Kuklinski (Michael Shannon), whose family didn't realize what he did for a living. Ginger & Rosa is the coming of age tale of two teenage girls (Elle Fanning, Alice Englert) in 1960s London.

Another Gasparilla offering, Hotel Noir starring Rosario Dawson and Danny DeVito, bowed at Cannes in 2012, earning a spot on the Hollywood Reporter's top 25 list for that film festival.

The festival's lineup of documentaries features an intriguing mix of sports (Last Day at Lambeau, focused on Brett Favre's farewell to the Green Bay Packers; GLOW: The Story of the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling) and music (Detroit's 1960s rock 'n' roll scene in Louder Than Love: The Grand Ballroom Story; and A.M. Mayhem: The Story of Tucson's Power 1490AM, that city's first hip-hop radio station).

Tampa Bay filmmakers showcasing their works include Tony Armer (the inspiring documentary Running with Demons), Lawrence Feeney (Pharmboy, filmed in Pasco County) and Leslie Glass, whose closing-night documentary The Silent Majority profiles teenagers living free of drugs and alcohol.

The complete festival lineup and advance tickets are available online at gasparillafilmfestival.com. Tickets are $12 for regular screenings and $15 for special events. Unlimited screening passes cost $100.

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