Tampa’s Gasparilla International Film Festival festival kicks off on March 23rd

Film Festival


The Gasparilla International Film Festival (GIFF), presented by Film Tampa Bay, is proud to announce their exciting 2023 film lineup. This year’s festival includes 23 Feature Films, 50 Short Films, 5 Educational Panels, 4 Parties, a High School Film Competition, and over 50 filmmakers attending from around the world.

GIFF will kick-off the festival with the film MIRANDA’S VICTIM, making its Florida Premiere as the Opening Night Film on March 23rd at the Tampa Theater. Directed by Michelle Danner, Miranda’s Victim tells the story of Patricia “Trish” Weir played by Abigail Breslin, who was kidnapped and raped by Ernesto Miranda. This case triggered the law that would transform America’s justice system, which we know as ‘Miranda Rights’. Michelle Danner, Abigail Breslin (known for her roles in Zombieland, Little Miss Sunshine), and Enrique Murciano are confirmed to be in attendance and will host a Q&A session after the film. Other notable cast includes Donald Sutherland, Luke Wilson, Ryan Phillippe, Emily VanCamp, Taryn Manning, Andy Garcia, & Nolan Gould.

GIFF’s Closing Night Film, also held at the Tampa Theater on March 26th, is BLACKBERRY, also making its Florida Premiere. The film tells the story of the meteoric rise and catastrophic demise of the world’s first smartphone. Director Matt Johnson’s adaptation portrays a suspenseful and insightful journey for Research In Motion’s race to launch its BlackBerry phones that changed the way we communicate. Notable cast includes Jay Baruchel, Glenn Howerton, Matt Johnson, Cary Elwes, & Saul Rubinek. Director Matt Johnson will be in attendance and will host a Q&A session after the film.

Between Opening and Closing Night, GIFF will screen many more films throughout the 4-day festival. A full list of films is available below in addition to the full Program Guide, available for download at GasparillaFilmFestival.com. “We are very excited to announce this year’s film selection. We believe this is the best lineup yet and will appeal to all film lovers in the Tampa Bay Area and those who are visiting from out of town,” said Monica Varner, Executive Director.

Another notable attendee at this year’s festival is director Sung Kang, (Fast & Furious films) directing SHAKY SHIVERS, which will also be making its Florida Premiere at the Festival. Director Sung Kang, producer Bryan Yang, cast members Brooke Markham, and James Bellinger will also be in attendance for a post film discussion.

GIFF is known as a cultural arts institution that inspires, educates, and entertains through its annual celebration of film. In 16 years, GIFF has emerged as one of the fastest-growing film festivals in the U.S. and is consistently recognized as a top-50 festival. With year-round events, community outreach, and social awareness initiatives, GIFF also supports and cultivates the film industry of Tampa Bay and Florida and makes an economic impact on the region. GIFF has also hosted thousands of filmmakers, talent, producers, and film buffs by bringing the arts, education, and quality films to the Tampa Bay area.

“We are grateful for the support of Film Tampa Bay and Hillsborough County throughout the years. We would not have been able to be recognized as one of the best film festivals in the country without their partnership,” said Tim Zehnder, President of the Board of GIFF.

Most of the films screened at GIFF are in competition for a prize in their respective categories. Winners are chosen by a distinct panel of Grand Jury Members and include the following categories: Best Narrative Feature, Best Documentary Feature, Best Short Film, Best College Film, Best High School Film, Best Florida Production, Best International Film, Best Male Performance, and Best Female Performance. A list of a few of our notable Grand Jury Members is also provided below.

Festival Passes, program guide, and individual tickets are available now at www.gasparillafilmfestival.com


Opening Night Film

MIRANDA’S VICTIM, Directed by: Michelle Danner. FL Premiere

In 1963, eighteen-year-old Patricia Weir is kidnapped and brutally raped. Committed to putting her attacker Ernesto Miranda in prison, Trish’s life is destroyed by America’s legal system as she triggers a law that transforms the nation.

Cast: Abigail Breslin, Kyle MacLachlan, Donald Sutherland, Emily VanCamp, Ryan Phillippe, Taryn Manning, Luke Wilson, Enrique Murciano

In Attendance: Michelle Danner, Abigail Breslin, Enrique Murciano

Closing Night Film

BLACKBERRY, Directed by: Matt Johnson. FL Premiere

A company that toppled global giants before succumbing to the ruthlessly competitive forces of Silicon Valley. This is not a conventional tale of modern business failure by fraud and greed. The rise and fall of BlackBerry reveals the dangerous speed at which innovators race along the information superhighway.

Cast: Jay Baruchel, Glenn Howerton, Matt Johnson, Cary Elwes, Saul Rubinek

In Attendance: Matt Johnson

Spotlight /Special Screenings

CHEVALIER, Directed by: Stephen Williams. FL Premiere

Based on the true story of violinist and composer Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges, the illegitimate son of an African slave and a French plantation owner, who rises to heights in French society through his musical prodigy, before an ill-fated love affair.

Cast: Kelvin Harrison Jr., Sama Weaving, Lucy Boynton, Minnie Driver, Marton Csokas

LINOLEUM, Directed by: Colin West.

When the host of a failing children’s science show tries to fulfill his childhood dream of becoming an astronaut by building a rocket ship in his garage, a series of bizarre events occur that cause him to question his own reality.

Cast: Jim Gaffigan, Rhea Seehorn, Katelyn Nacon, Gabriel Rush, Amy Hargreaves with Michael Ian Black and Tony Shalhoub

BREATHING HAPPY, Directed by: Shane Brady. FL Premiere

In this mind-bending drama, a recovering drug addict can achieve one year of sobriety alone on Christmas day, but his demons tempt him to relapse.

Cast: Sarah Bolger, Katelyn Nacon, Justin Benson, Aaron Moorhead, Jim O’Heir, Augie Duke, John D’Aquino, Shane Brady, Owen Atlas, Jake Satow, June Carryl.

In Attendance: Shane Brady

27 MINUTES TO SON TAY, Directed by: Ehren Parks. Director’s Cut.

In 1970, a team of Green Berets and Air Commandos raided a POW compound outside Hanoi — and forever changed the face of military operations.

In Attendance: David Salzberg (Executive Producer)

Narrative Feature Competition

SHAKY SHIVERS, Directed by Sung Kang. FL Premiere

Two young women find themselves at an abandoned camp in the woods with a book of magical spells, surrounded by classic monsters in this comedic send-up of ’80s horror films.

Cast: VyVy Nguyen, Brooke Markham, Jimmy Bellinger

In Attendance: Sung Kang, Brooke Markham, James Bellinger, Brian Yang (Producer).

MONICA, Directed by Andrea Pallaoro.

The intimate portrait of a woman who returns home to care for her dying mother. A delicate and nuanced story of a fractured family; the story explores universal themes of abandonment, aging, acceptance, and redemption.

Cast: Trace Lysette, Patricia Clarkson, Emily Browning, Joshua Close and Adriana Barraza

In Attendance: Andrea Pallaoro, Trace Lysette

GRINGA, Directed by Marny Eng & E.J. Foerster. FL Premiere

Unpopular Marge Bickford (Jess Gabor) is having a tough time navigating the minefield that is her high school. But Marge’s life is upended when her beloved mother (Judy Greer) unexpectedly passes away. Marge decides to hunt down her estranged father (Steve Zahn), a faded ex-soccer star living in rural Mexico as a tequila aficionado and coach to the local women’s futbol team. Somehow these two misfits learn to play the game of life…both hoping that a family can be put back together, even if all you have are the missing pieces.

Cast: Steve Zahn, Jess Gabor, Roselyn Sanchez, Jorge A. Jimenez, and Judy Greer

In Attendance: E.J. Foerster, Marny Ann Eng, Jess Gabor

Documentary Feature Competition

26.2 TO LIFE, Directed by Christine Yoo. FL Premiere

Three incarcerated men run a full marathon in San Quentin State Prison on a quest for freedom — or something akin to it.

Cast: Frank Ruona, Markelle Taylor, Tommy Wickerd, Rahsaan “New York” Thomas

In Attendance: Chrtistine Yoo


The Maker movement is entering new frontiers and growing in places it has never been before – our bodies, hospitals and the natural world. This is where making heals, legacies come alive & humans merge with computers.

Cast: Anouk Wipprecht, Dale Dougherty, Kate Reed, Dr Gokul Krishnan, Dr Craig Ades


A family documents how their immigrant father Jerry, a recently retired Florida man, was recruited by the Chinese police to be an undercover agent, only to discover a darker truth.

Cast: Jerry Hsu, Kathy Hsu, Joshua Hsu, Jonathan Hsu, Jesse Hsu, Fang Du, Nick Bailey, Haosong Yang

EXIT, directed by Alison Jayne Wilson. SPAIN. FL Premiere

A searing documentary about three women looking for a way out of their extreme poverty but find themselves at the heart of human trafficking networks. It’s a story about what it means to be trafficked, about the damage it causes and the extreme difficulties faced by those women who try to get out for good and regain their dignity. EXIT is not a straight road and many don’t make it to the end.

Cast: Narration Leticia Dolera V/O Español, Sarah Lynn Dawson V/O English

In Attendance: David Salzberg (Executive Producer)

CROSSES IN THE DUST, Directed by Christine Kane. World Premiere

At the Arizona-Mexico border, the Sonoran Desert has been weaponized as part of the “Prevention Through Deterrence” policy, which has cost the lives of thousands of migrants since its inception in the mid-1990s. CROSSES IN THE DUST follows a law professor and her students as they assist organizations fighting the ongoing immigration crisis along the border while honoring those who have perished on their journey into America.

Cast: Irene Pons, Brett Castro, Adrianna Gonzalez, Kajal Patel, Jazzalyn Velez

James Bellinger

HELEN BELIEVE, Directed by Dylan Mulick. FL Premiere

Olympic champion Helen Maroulis. At just 23 years old, she was competing in her first Olympic Games in Rio against Saori Yoshida, a 13x World Champion and the most decorated wrestler of all time. Yoshida was undefeated for over four straight years – until she stepped onto the mat with Maroulis, who shocked the world and defeated Yoshida to become the first, and only, American woman to win a Gold Medal in wrestling.

Cast: Helen Maroulis

BEYOND THE BEAT, Directed by Fletcher Barnes & Henry Davis. FL Premiere.

After decades of civil war in Northern Uganda, three best friends start a creative arts festival to inspire hope for a better future. In the district of Kitgum, Uganda – hope is a scarce resource. After a 20-year civil war, the region is still healing from decades of brutal violence and government oppression. Using therapeutic tools like yoga, painting, dance, and music – three best friends start an arts festival called Beyond the Beat. Now in its 4th edition, the event is sparking a movement of hope in Northern Uganda. The story of its improbable existence evokes a larger conversation on “art” and its unique potential to heal and transform communities worldwide. More than just a film, Beyond the Beat is sparking a global movement of people transforming their pain into art.

In Attendance: Fletcher Baldwin (Director)

Made in FL Feature Competition

BRIDGE TO THE OTHER SIDE, Directed by KT Curran. DOCUMENTARY. Tampa Premiere

In a small, seaside town, a young woman, struggling with the untimely death of her firefighter husband, joins a mobile response team to help those in mental health crisis.

Cast: Valerie LeBlanc, Chase Garland, John Scalzi, Sai Piña, Blake Lafita, Brian Boyd, Julia Grandpre

In Attendance: KT Curran (Director)


For the past 100 years Tampa has been a melting pot of latin cultures and La Gaceta has preserved and chronicled all of it. As newspapers nationally struggle to survive… La Gaceta successfully

In Attendance: Lynn Marvin Dingfelder (Director)

SECOND CHANCES, Directed by Tamara Nemivorsky. World Premiere

The film “Second Chances” follows four individuals in Tampa, all of whom have faced the daunting challenge of recovering from addiction as they struggle through the COVID-19 pandemic. Through the help and support of The Portico, a Tampa non-profit organization, these individuals are able to make positive changes in their lives. The documentary takes an honest look at the struggles they face while also capturing the beauty of resilience, perseverance, and recovery. The film is a testament to how the strength of community can be a powerful force for overcoming adversity.

In Attendance: Tamara Nemivorsky (Director)

THE PINES, Directed by Kim Caicedo. Tampa Premiere.

In the midst of their annual canoe trip, Huck and Guy decide to take shelter for the night in a desolate area of the river. When they awaken to find their canoe has been damaged, they gradually realize that this pine-covered island has more to it than meets the eye.

Cast: Henry Caicedo, Donnell E Smith, Margaret Brammell, Erin E. Boucher

In Attendance: Kim Caicedo (Director)

115 GRAINS, Directed by Andrew Kiaroscuro. World Premiere

A broken police officer is forced to seek counsel from an unorthodox therapist who helps solve his inner turmoil through experimental hypnosis, sending him back in time to face his past.

Cast: Evan Gamble, Geoffrey Kennedy, Eugenie Bondurant, Chloe Mondesir

In Attendance: Andrew Kiaroscuro (Director)

International Feature Competition

UNFRIENDING, Directed by Brett and Jason Butler (The Butler Brothers). CANADA. World Premiere

Blake, and his girlfriend Simone host a dinner party at Blake’s parents’ home for their closest friends, including Blake’s oldest friend, Isaac. The dinner party is actually a set up for a life intervention for Isaac, where the friend group tells him all the reasons he has become a burden to them, and society in general, and really let him know that he should just kill himself already. This black comedy is a razor-sharp satire on ‘cancel culture’ and the ‘me generation’ in general.

Cast: Sean Meldrum, Simone Jetsun, Michael Pearson, Jenna Vittoria, Honor Spencer, Rachelle Lauzon, Golden Madison, Alex Stone

In Attendance: Brett & Jason Butler (Directors, The Butler Brothers)

I LIKE MOVIES, Directed by Chandler Levack. CANADA. Tampa Bay Premiere

Lawrence, a socially inept 17-year-old cinephile, gets a job at a video store, where he forms a complicated friendship with his older female manager.

Cast: Isaiah Lehtinen, Romina D’Ugo, Krista Bridges, Percy Hynes White

47. Directed by Alireza Ataallahetabrizi & Ahmad Otraghchi. IRAN. World Premiere

It’s about a woman who wants to run away from home for one night, but a tragedy ensues.

Cast: Ladan Mostofi, Shaghayegh Farahani, Hamidreza Azarang, Mohammad Reza Ghafari

Shorts Program

Made in Florida Shorts

CHASING JUSTICE, Directed by Drew Petrimoulx

ROOSTER RUN, Directed by Amanda Van Meter Burch

HAVE YOU SEEN RATMAN?, Directed by James Berry

PAPER LINE, Directed by Ryan Watson

Documentary Shorts

PYTHON HUNTRESS, Directed by Nicholas Orris, Matt Deblinger

LET’S MAKE IT, Directed by Caleb Duplain

BELOW SURFACE, Directed by Lukas Hauser

BAAR, Directed by Dev Walker

FOR WHO I AM, Directed by Joshua Bowen

JOHN DEE, Directed by D. Stokes Piercy

College Shorts

FORGIVE ME, FATHER, Directed by Christian Carreira

SACRIFICIOS, Directed by Larissa Salazar

THE BIG PITCH, Directed by Robert Enriquez

LAVENDER, Directed by Jorge Garcia

ARTIFICE, Directed by Chris Hall

TOY PHONE, Directed by Gabe Barden

LIMINAL TIMES, Directed by Corey Marr

Thriller Shorts

HAMMER, Directed by Orlando Cicilia III

TONY AND THE TREE, Directed by Pacey Hansen

IN YOUR NAME, Directed Jerome Bowers

ANGEL INVESTOR, Directed by David Sedillo

DEADLINE, Directed by Isaac Huskins

LEAVING YELLOWSTONE, Directed by Kayla Arend

Dark Side of Comedy Shorts

ALL FOR NAUGHT, Directed by TL Westgate

BODIES WILL TUMBLE AND ROLL, Directed by Eli Vazquez

GUNPOINT, Directed by Bill Marsilii

GUARDIAN DERANGEL, Directed by Dylan Cahall

DISORDER, Directed by Thomas Warner Miller

THE STUDENTS!, Directed by Christopher Duarte

Drama Shorts

THE POOL BOY, Directed by Jay Reiss

DANCE FOR ME, Directed by Robin Hoffmann

WILDCAT, Directed by Robin Prentiss

HEROES IN TRAINING, Directed by Brittany Phillips

MY DEAR AUNT SALLY, Directed by Tom Procida

GOT YOUR BACK, Directed by Mitch Hudson

GLOSS, Directed by Benjamin J. Murray

STRINGS, Directed by Rodrigo Moreno-Fernandez

THE GIG, Directed by Danny Pineros


RIVER, Directed by Joshua Hernandez

INFINITY, Directed by Matege “Pest” Rogers

Grand Jury Members

Notable Grand Jury Members of the 2023 Gasparilla Film Festival


Chris serves as Executive Producer of Entertainment Studios Motion Pictures and Head of Acquisitions, overseeing all acquisitions operations for both Entertainment Studios Motion Pictures and Freestyle Digital Media. Before joining Freestyle in 2009, Chris worked as an executive producer at Pierce Brosnan’s MGM-based finance and production company, Irish DreamTime. In addition to managing a slate of over 30 film and television projects in active development he has credits on five Irish DreamTime feature films that were independently financed and sold to major distributors — including The Matador, Laws of Attraction, Shattered, Evelyn, and The Greatest. He has a bachelor’s degree in political science from City University of New York, Queens College and regularly lectures at the University of California, Los Angeles and the University of Southern California.


Jason Gorber is a film journalist and member of the Toronto Film Critics Association. He is the Managing Editor/Chief Film Critic at ThatShelf.com, Metro Morning’s film reviewer on CBC Radio, and a regular contributor for POV Magazine. His writing has appeared in Esquire, The Guardian, The Toronto Star, The Globe and Mail, The National Post, SlashFilm, Screen Anarchy, HighDefDigest, Birth.Movies.Death, IndieWire and more. He has appeared on CTV NewsChannel, CP24, and many other broadcasters. He has been a jury member at the Reykjavik International Film

Festival, Regard, Calgary Underground Film Festival, RiverRun Film Festival, TIFF Canada’s Top 10, Reel Asian and Fantasia’s New Flesh Award. Jason has been a Tomatometer-approved critic for over 20 years.


Grace is VP of Business Affairs and Operations at Gamechanger Films (CEO Effie T. Brown; “The Invitation”, “The Tale”). Prior Executive Work: Business Affairs Executive and Creative Development Executive for Patriot Pictures LLC (a finance and production company by Michael Mendelsohn, “Cut Throat City”, “Synchronic”). As Vice President of Business Affairs for companies owned by Producer Steven Paul (“Ghost Rider”, “Tekken”), Grace has negotiated development, production, domestic distribution, and foreign sales agreements. Grace was also Vice President of Business Affairs for the Bentonville Film Festival, co-founded by Academy Award Winner Geena Davis, with a mission to promote women and people of color in media and entertainment by providing distribution offers through its sponsors AMC Theatres and Lionsgate. When Grace worked for Image Entertainment / RLJ Entertainment, One Village / Urban Movie Channel / ALLBLK (both are now divisions of AMC Networks), she was mentioned several times in the Hollywood Reporter and Variety for closing multi-million dollar deals such as “The Rewrite” starring Hugh Grant and Marisa Tomei, “Pay The Ghost” starring Nicolas Cage, and “Bone Tomahawk” starring Kurt Russell.


Hawk Otsby is a writer and producer most well-known for writing the Oscar-nominated screenplay for Children of Men and the blockbuster Marvel movie Iron Man.


Joe Restaino is an award-winning film producer and member of the Producers Guild Association (PGA) based out of Tampa, FL. He is the principal of Hungry Bull Productions and produced Michael Sarnoski’s critically acclaimed film PIG starring Nicolas Cage and Alex Wolff, Rebecca Hall’s PASSING which premiered at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival, Lionsgate Films’ FEAR OF RAIN, LADY OF THE MANOR, and Diane Keaton’s MACK & RITA. Joe is also a past President of the Gasparilla International Film Festival.

About Gasparilla International Film Festival

Launched in 2006, GIFF is a film festival held annually in Tampa Bay. Operated by the 501 (c)(3) non-profit Tampa Film Institute, GIFF’s mission is to provide year-long support for film screening, production, and education throughout the Tampa Bay Region.

About Film Tampa Bay

The Tampa Hillsborough Film & Digital Media Commission markets the Tampa Bay region as a premier filming destination with one of the most culturally-rich and diverse landscapes in the state of Florida. Film Tampa Bay exists within Visit Tampa Bay, the region’s tourism bureau, to help boost the overall marketing and economic development impact for Tampa Bay, which is rapidly becoming one of the most attractive destinations in the United States. Tampa/Hillsborough County offers among the most diverse filming locations in the state of Florida. Urban skylines give way to beautiful waterfronts, including Florida’s largest port, culturally distinct locations and neighborhoods, as well as farm and rural areas. Hosting one of the leading commercial film markets in the U.S., Tampa Bay is home to not only diverse locations, but also a deeply skilled crew base, exceptional accommodations, and knowledgeable vendors. The Tampa/Hillsborough Film Commission stands ready to assist your feature, television, or commercial production. Dream big! We do.



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