Tampa’s Gasparilla International Film Festival kicks off with film ‘Miranda’s Victim’

Film Review

Nolan Gould, Michelle Danner, and Sebastian Quinn - "Miranda's Victim" - Photo by Chyrisse.

By Chyrisse Tabone, Rock At Night Tampa

Gasparilla International Film Festival (GIFF) coverage and film review – Miranda’s Victim – March 23, 2023

Nolan Gould, Michelle Danner, and Sebastian Quinn of “Miranda’s Victim.” Photo by Chyrisse.

Rock At Night typically covers music in the U.S. and U.K.—but we decided to take a different path this week by attending the opening night festivities of the Gasparilla International Film Festival (GIFF). This film festival is in its 16th year and is located at the historic Tampa Theatre and various locations within the city. Between Thursday, March 23rd, and Sunday, March 26th, attendees can view films, hear panel discussions, and attend the gala after-parties. 

Rock At Night was pleased to attend the red carpet event before the festival’s kick-off with the film Miranda’s Victim. The film features a star-studded cast, including Abigail Breslin, Brent Sexton, Ryan Phillipe, Donald Sutherland, Luke Wilson, Andy Garcia, Taryn Manning, Mireille Enos, and Kyle MacLachlan. Director and renowned acting coach Michelle Danner and actors Nolan Gould (Modern Family) and Sebastian Quinn (Mid-Century) were in attendance at the festival. The film, set in the early-1960s, is based on the true story of the origin of Miranda Rights. We have all heard, “You have the right to remain silent…” in crime dramas but did you know “Miranda” was the name of a convicted rapist? The film’s story is about his victim Patricia “Trish” Weir.

Koda the Fluff and Hillsborough County Film Commissioner Tyler Martinolich. Photo by Chyrisse.

Many involved in the film industry, such as directors, writers, and talent, proudly walked on the red carpet, vogueing and posing for the cameras. But of all the celebrities present, one, in particular, stole the show—hands down (or shall I say “paws down”). Koda the Fluff, an “influencer” and therapy dog with almost 12K followers on Instagram rode on the red carpet in her little vehicle wearing dark shades. She is the subject of a children’s book whose proceeds benefit autism awareness. Many attendees vied to pose with Koda, who was nonplussed by all the flashing cameras and hoopla.

Review Miranda’s Victim

The film begins in 1966 with housewife Trish (Abigail Breslin) doing kitchen chores with a baby in tow. She drops a glass bottle of milk after hearing a news announcement about the Supreme Court’s ruling on Miranda vs. Arizona. The court ruled that arrested individuals are entitled to rights against self-discrimination and an attorney under the 5th and 6th Amendments of the U.S. Constitution. 

Producers Alexandra Guarnieri and Valerie Debier and Director Michelle Danner of “Miranda’s Victim”. Photo by Chyrisse.

Flashback to 1963, Trish works at a movie theatre, takes the bus home, and later walks into her home, disheveled and in tears. Her sister Ann (Emily VanCamp) immediately takes her to the doctor, where we realize she has been raped. Throughout the ordeal, her mother (Mireille Enos) is unsympathetic and wants her daughter to keep hush-hush, fearing she will be unmarriable and “damaged goods.” The story continues as detectives bring the accused rapist Ernesto Miranda (Sebastian Quinn) to the police station, and record a confession. Trish positively identifies him in a lineup and he is later found guilty of kidnapping and rape at a trial. 

Dylan Smith and Chris Hall of “Artifice.” Photo by Chyrisse.

The film focuses on a woman’s strength and determination for justice not only once but twice since there is a retrial after the ACLU declares Miranda’s confession inadmissible in a court of law. Without giving the whole plot away, we see Trish’s struggle with her marriage, family, and the culture of that period, which “blamed the victim.”As I watched the film, I kept thinking about how women could not get birth control unless married, could not have credit cards in their names, and had to work hard to break away from the Leave It to Beaver conservatism of the 1950s. 

Miranda’s Victim is a story of female-empowerment. Beautifully and touchingly played by Breslin, it focuses on the period’s culture and how the legal system was stacked against the victim. The same evening of Trish’s assault, Miranda attacked two other women. Both refused to confess to being raped, although the film hints they were. Even the victim’s own mother, played exceedingly well by Enos, badgered and tormented her daughter through the ordeal. By the film’s end, I wanted to slap her silly because her attitude was to “shut up and just deal with it.” The mother even suggested that her daughter fake her virginity on her wedding night by pricking her finger and putting blood on the sheet. 

Nolan Gould. Photo by Chyrisse.

I felt disdain for the husband character (Josh Bowman) after he calls her a “whore” and is “embarrassed” for his family and friends to know she had been raped before marriage. 

Q&A Session after the viewing of “Miranda’s Victim” at the Tampa Theatre. Photo by Chyrisse.

We see strong parallels between the #MeToo cause because victims of rape are often put through the wringer and demonized; hence one in five victims do not report the assaults to the police. The scarlet letter or Jezebel labeling is still prevalent today, which has been further compounded by social media. Perpetrators of crimes are given the benefit of the doubt and it becomes a “he said/she said.” Even those confirmed to the land’s highest court have been accused of sexual misconduct or harassment, and the women were publicly shamed. 

Overall, the film faithfully captures the period, from set design to the era’s music, adding nostalgia to this historical drama. The rape scenes were tastefully portrayed but may upset viewers, especially those who have been assaulted in the past. However, the story needed to be told, and as we found out during the Q&A session, the real Trish was tracked down and consulted, making the film very accurate. I applaud Danner for making the film and reminding us we haven’t come too far with cultural shaming of women and victims’ rights. 

I look forward to seeing more well-made and timely films over the weekend.




Chyrisse Tabone, Ph.D.
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