Gasparilla Film Fest brings celebrities and movies to Tampa

Celebrating its 16th year, the festival will feature “Fast & Furious” actor Sung Kang, “The Conjuring” actor Patrick Wilson and others.
Actor Sung Kang at the premiere of "Fast and Furious 6" in 2013.
Actor Sung Kang at the premiere of "Fast and Furious 6" in 2013. [ Michael Germana/ZUMA Wire ]
Published March 13|Updated March 13

TAMPA — The Gasparilla International Film Festival is back for its 16th year with nearly 75 independent movies being screened throughout Tampa from March 23-26.

There are feature films and short films.

There are documentary films and narrative films.

There are films made in Tampa and films shot internationally.

And there will be celebrities and filmmakers in attendance. Lots of them.

Those celebrities include “Fast & Furious” actor Sung Kang, who will be at Gasparilla in support of “Shaky Shivers,” which he directed. The comedy follows two young women with a book of magical spells at an abandoned camp surrounded by classic horror monsters. It screens at 8:45 p.m. March 25 at AMC Westshore.

Tampa Bay’s own Patrick, Mark and Paul Wilson will be there, too. Brother actors Patrick and Paul Wilson and newsman brother Mark Wilson make up the Wilson Van band that will perform at the closing night party on March 26 at 9:30 p.m. at the Floridan Palace Hotel Ballroom.

As part of a panel, Hawk Ostby, the screenwriter behind the first “Iron Man” and Academy Award-nominated “Children of Men,” will discuss his trade at 2:30 p.m. March 26 in the at The University of Tampa’s Black Box Theater in The Ferman Center for the Arts..

“Little Miss Sunshine” actor Abigail Breslin will also attend Gasparilla in support of a movie. She stars in “Miranda’s Victim,” about the kidnapping and rape that triggered the Miranda Rights law. It’s the festival’s opening-night film, 7 p.m. March 23, at the Tampa Theatre.

Director Matt Johnson will attend the screening of his “Blackberry,” about the rise and fall of the world’s first smartphone. That movie closes the festival at 6:30 p.m. March 26 at Tampa Theatre.

Those looking for locally made films might be interested in “La Gaceta: 100 Years and 3 Generations,” about Tampa’s century-old trilingual newspaper that can be seen at 4:30 p.m. March 26 at AMC Westshore. Director Lynn Marvin Dingfelder will be in attendance.

Tampa Bay Lightning fans might remember Shane Brady as the “We Believe Kid,” who distributed homemade signs throughout the arena during the team’s successful Stanley Cup run in 2004. He is now a filmmaker who produced, directed, wrote and starred in “Breathing Happy,” about a drug addict trying to achieve one year of sobriety on Christmas Day. Brady will attend the screening at 7:15 p.m. March 24 at AMC Westshore.

There are also international films. “Exit,” a documentary from Spain, tells the story of three women who find themselves at the heart of human trafficking rings. Executive producer David Salzberg will be in attendance at 5 p.m. March 25 at AMC Westshore.

And family films include “Gringa,” about an unpopular high school girl who, after her mother dies, seeks out her estranged father in Mexico, where he coaches a women’s soccer team. Directors Marny Eng and E.J. Forrester and star Jess Gabor will be there when the movie shows at 6:30 p.m. March 25 at AMC Westshore.

In all, over 50 filmmakers from around the world will attend the festival.

If you go

The Gasparilla International Film Festival runs March 23-26. For a full schedule and ticket information, visit