With more than 80 movies being screened and guest actors Tom Berenger and M. Emmet Walsh getting awards, the fifth annual Gasparilla International Film festival is under way in Tampa.
Film buffs have plenty to savor as the line-up of flicks includes comedy, horror, drama, animation and documentaries. There are just-for-fun movies as well as films with a message.
The schedule features both locally produced and international films, screening today through Sunday at several venues including the Tampa Theatre, Cinebistro Hyde Park and Muvico Centro Ybor.
"We keep getting better each year and now we've become one of the top festivals in the country," says festival president Eric Polins who expects 10,000 people to view one or more of the films. He estimates the economic impact on Tampa will be "well into six figures."
"We have the largest number of producers and directors attending this year," he adds.
One of the highlights is a screening Saturday night at the Cinebistro of Oliver Stone's 1986 "Platoon." It's showing in honor of Berenger who was nominated for an Oscar for his portrayal of emotionally scarred Vietnam veteran Sergeant Barnes. He is getting the festival's Career Achievement Award at the closing event on Sunday at the Tampa Theatre.
"This is a thrill and an honor to be coming to this festival and that certainly was one of my best roles," says Berenger, 61, whose film career includes "The Big Chill," "Someone to Watch Over Me" and - another of his favorites - "Major League."
"I have different favorite films for different reasons," he adds, noting that his personal best performance may have been in the mystery thriller "Betrayed."
Berenger, who also played Teddy Roosevelt in the TNT movie "The Rough Riders," says he has invited his teenager daughter to attend. She lives in St. Petersburg.
Character actor M. Emmet Walsh (more than 100 roles including "Blood Simple") received the festival's Lifetime Achievement award at the opening event on Thursday. He joked that "they must have run out of actors and got down to C-list to give it to me."
Other films of note being screened include the premiere of "Color Me Obsessed," a documentary about the 1980s rock band The Replacements; "Win Win," starring Paul Giamatti as a high school wrestling coach; and "Hot Coffee," a documentary about the woman who was scalded in the infamous McDonald's lawsuit.
The festival also includes workshops for filmmakers and numerous parties and special events.
For example, the Nashville blues band Scissormen will be performing at New World Brewery in Ybor City late Saturday night. Their performance follows the screening of a blues documentary, "Big Shoes: Walking and Talking the Blues."
Another music documentary, "Everyday Sunshine: The Story of Fishbone," screens Friday. Narrated by Laurence Fishburne, the film is about black ska-funk-punk band Fishbone from South Central Los Angeles.
The Gasparilla festival also will showcase Tampa-area productions such as "The Uh-Oh! Show," a horror film about a game show in which contestants can lose body parts. It was directed by Florida-based cult hero Herschell Gordon Lewis (known as The Godfather of Gore) and was produced by Tampa Bay filmmakers Andy Lalino and Andrew Allan.
Lakeland-based film company NFocus will debut its documentary "Voices of Mariel," the story of 125,000 Cubans who fled their homes through the Port of Mariel and sailed to the United States in 1980 seeking a better life.
Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers player Simeon Rice will present a short film that he directed, "When I Was King," a comic message about social media and a man who has no FaceBook, Twitter, MySpace or FourSquare presence.
And "Square Grouper: The Godfathers of Ganja," looks back at Florida's marijuana culture in the 1980s. Directed by Miami filmmaker Billy Corbin ("Cocaine Cowboys"), it closes out the festival on Sunday at the Tampa Theatre.
Among the international films is "Doina," an award-winning effort by 23-year-old Romanian filmmaker Nikolas Grasso. It's about a 16-year-old girl training for a piano competition.
Also, this year the Gasparilla Festival is partnering with the ninth annual Ybor Festival of the Moving Image, which kicked off Wednesday and continues through Sunday. This festival offers "non-traditional uses of motion media," including video sculpture and installations, performances and independent films and documentaries.
Moving Image events take place in the HCC-Ybor Performing Arts Building at East Palm Avenue and North 14th Street in Ybor City.
Among the films co-presented by The Festival of the Moving Image are "Into Eternity," a documentary about a nuclear waste facility designed to last 100,000 years - and the problem of how to warn future generations; "The Lost Thing," which won the 2011 Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film; and "More Than Skin Deep," a film by Tampa director Stan Kozma that examines the history, science and culture of skin cancer.
Gasparilla International Film Festival
When: Today through Sunday
Where: Tampa Theatre, Cinebistro Hyde Park, Muvico Centro Ybor
How much: Packages range from $50 to $1,000 with individual films at $10. (Special events such as the closing night party at the Kress Building have an additional charge.)
More info: (813) 514-9962 or www.giff2011.com
Ybor Festival of the Moving Image
When: Today through Sunday
Where: The Performing Arts Building, Hillsborough Community College, Ybor Campus
How much: Most events are free
More info: (813) 259-6419 or www.yborfilmfestival.com.