Gasparilla Film Fest: Shorter, But Jam Packed

The Gasparilla International Film Festival returns this month for a fourth annual edition that’s six days shorter than its previous incarnations, but still jammed with impressive screen fare — 60 features, documentaries and shorts.

Crime drama Charlie Valentine, with Raymond J. Barry (Little Children) as the titular gangster and a cast also including Michael Weatherly, James Russo, Tom Berenger, Steven Bauer, and Keith David, is one of the features slated to be showcased at the festival, which runs March 18-21 and is relocating from Channelside Cinemas to Cinebistro in Hyde Park.

Several major screenings will additionally be held at Muvico Centro Ybor and at historic Tampa Theatre, which is home, again, to the opening night soiree, this year featuring happythankyoumoreplease, directed by Josh Radnor (television’s “How I Met Your Mother”). The comic drama (photo, below) won this year’s Audience Award at Sundance.

Barry will attend the fest, to receive its career achievement award. That award in 2009 was won by Armand Assante, who will participate in an actors’ workshop at the 2010 fest. Also expected to be on hand are celebrity TV doofus Jerry Springer (March 19), who stars in Christina Grozik’s political satire And the Winner Is…; and Arielle Kebbel (The Uninvited), recipient of the fest’s rising star award.

A panel on the future of Florida filmmaking is one of several educational panels slated for the fest; others focus on fright-film makeup (March 19), and film’s fate in a digital world (March 20).

Appropriately enough, Sunshine State-related films are on tap, including Joe O’Brien’s Endure, a Tom Arnold-Judd Nelson thriller produced in Lakeland; St. Petersburg filmmaker Kelly L. King‘s romcom/drama Prime of Your Life, Jacksonville writer-director Warren SkeelsThespians, filmed in Tampa; Mike Walter’s Breaking News, Breaking Down, featuring commentary from WTVT’s Kelly Ring; and Caged Dreams, a short from Tampa filmmakers Paul and Pete Guzzo (Ghosts of Ybor: Charlie Wall).

Fans of NBC’s “The Office” might be interested in checking out You, the directorial debut of Melora Hardin AKA the show’s Jan; Hardin and her husband, Gildart Jackson, co-star in the romantic drama.

For more details or to buy tickets online, go to the official festival site.

St. Petersburg Times film critic Steve Persall’s blog post on the fest is here.