Sunday was the final scene of movie stars and open bars, as the Gasparilla International Film Festival sadly wrapped its fifth edition in downtown Tampa.
World renowned Tampa Theatre hosted the annual awards ceremony, including a career achievement honor for Oscar nominated actor Tom Berenger. Meanwhile, audiences and festival jurors each voted Robert Celestino’s psychological thriller Leave as the best feature film in the Gasparilla 2011 lineup.
In Berenger’s company, the festival also honored Joseph Monks of Naples, who was blinded by diabetes a decade ago. Not letting the medical condition hold him back, Monks wrote and directed The Bunker, which is being submitted to the Cannes Film Festival this year.
An impromptu and touching speech from Joseph Monks was captured by film buff and resident photographer, Ken Donaldson, and can be viewed at Donaldson’s YouTube channel.
Following the movie showcase, an estimated crowd of more than five hundred meandered down Franklin Street to the posh Kress Building for one final farewell. The long-abandoned department store was packed with scantily clad dancers undulating to exotic rhythm.
Reportedly, final attendance totals for the festival haven’t been released but president Eric Polins said every screening played to full capacity crowds. “I tried to get into a documentary Friday and couldn’t get a seat,” Polins said. “A documentary. That tells you something about how we’re doing.”
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