The 7th annual Gasparilla International Film Festival has opened its cyber-doors to the public as a plethora of ticket packages are now available for the fest’s ambitious presentation that runs March 19th – 24th.
And as noted during this morning’s press conference held at the Cinebistro, GIFF President Joe Restaino mentioned they’re on pace to break a record with having already moved a third of last year’s total attendance on Day 1 of release.
Executive Director Monica Varner also chimed in stating that just 30 Opening Night VIP tickets are available for the world premiere of “Empire State” starring Dwayne Johnson (a.k.a. The Rock), which is being unveiled at the Tampa Theatre.
In addition to a variety pack of features, shorts, animations, and documentaries, the festival will also hold daily educational panels.
Chair of the educational panels and member of the GIFF Advisory Board, Rob Sterrett, highlighted an actor’s panel – in which the featured attendees will enact a real-live table read of participating panelist, actor Ryan O’Nan’s latest flick, “Under the Pink Moon: Chronicles of a Gay Werewolf.” There will also be a panel of experts talking about the current state of the Florida film industry, along with industry professionals - who have worked on both independent and major studio products - chatting it up with aspiring filmmakers about the movie-making biz.
When comparing this year’s slate with previous fest editions, the GIFF Board believes they are finally earning dividends off their tireless efforts the last couple years.
“It’s not necessarily that we changed strategy, but I think there’s been a lot of momentum that’s been built the last few years,” says Rachel Feinman, Vice President of the GIFF Board.
Feinman praises Restaino for getting out there and selling the GIFF brand at a ton of film festivals throughout the country. She also credits the entire GIFF staff and volunteers for creating an inviting atmosphere that has past festival guests encouraging their industry friends to check out what they (GIFF family) have methodically crafted.
“We create such a special environment for filmmakers,” continues Feinman. “From the small ones all the way to largest filmmakers and talent who are here and out in L.A., they have become friends.”
Restaino echoed that notion yet also believes that honing their respective film selection process is one of their most attractive assets.
“The quality of films is amazing,” he says. “We definitely try to have a balance,” with regards to offering up something for everyone to check out.
Naturally, there will be a host of elaborate/themed parties just about every night where one can mingle with celebs, too.
At a glance, the balance of what brought GIFF to the proverbial film festival dance (nurturing the local/indie filmmaker), in addition to a more commercial appeal, could lead the 2013 installment of GIFF to its most prosperous to date.
Or it could just be, in film industry terms, a flashy sequel that lost its soul ;).