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The Sunscreen Film Festival '07: My Personal Encounter †by Chris Woods
"Perfect Stranger" †by Mike Smith
Horror Director Bob Clark Has Been Taken From Us....Grindhouse Sneak Preview....Johnny Hart's Passing †by Andy Lalino
Don Imus....The Masters of Horror....Congrats, Nol †by Matt Drinnenberg
Black and White....Grindhouse....Passing On....Whatever Happened To..? Chapter 15: James Woods †by Mike Smith
Nolan's Pop Culture Review
Established A.D. 2000, March 19. Now in our eighth calendar year!
Number 368  (Vol. 8, No. 15). This edition is for the week of April 9--15, 2007.

The Sunscreen Film Festival '07
My Personal Encounter

By Chris Woods

In all the 12 years that I lived in the Bay area, I have never stepped foot in The Vinoy Resort in St. Petersburg. Drove by it a few times and seen it from afar when Iíve gone to the Pier but never actual went inside. Until this past Sunday when it was the location to the second annual Sunscreen Film Festival. I have to say The Vinoy is a very impressive place and it was an excellent spot for the Sunscreen Film Fest. The festival started on Friday and went through Sunday, but with my busy schedule, I only got to go on the last day.

Walking into the ballroom of The Vinoy the first familiar faces I saw were Paul and Pete Guzzo. Their film Ghosts of Ybor: The End is Blossoming was playing that afternoon. Also there was good friend and fellow screenwriter Rev Dodd, who was volunteering at the fest. I talked with both the Guzzo Brothers and Rev until the first selection of films started. All the films in this first selection were all shot in Florida. As I took my seat, I met up with two more familiar faces, actor Gus Perez and actress Jennifer Moore who were just in time to catch the first set of movies.

The first film that was played was For The Motherland, about a young Russian conscript in World War II who becomes the armyís flag bearer and waves it high as they go into battle. The solider wonders if itís all worth it to risk his own life for the flag of Russia. The film was shot mostly in Tarpon Springs and was written and directed by Aaron Moorhead. An excellent film with a great emotional story. Moorhead did an expressive job with both the direction and the script. The lead actor and also the supporting cast were very believable as their characters. And an awesome job with the visual effects which captured a World War II Air raid. Top-notch effects and a great story. Highly Recommend.

Next up was Tampa Jai Alai, which was about the sport of Jai Alai, popular in Tampa back in the 1970s. The film starts off in 1978 where Jai Alai player Javier Arriaga is pushed out of the spotlight by an American player, Mikey. Through the course of the film Javier and other Jai Alai players strike because Javier is asked to lose a tournament game against the American. Eventually, Javier ends up playing Mikey in the 1982 Triple Crown Tournament. Another great film that was written and directed by Chad Eidschun. He had a good story and also captured the area of the late 1970s. Excellent editing throughout the whole film and the cast was awesome. Chris Whitney, Gonzalo Madurga, and company did a wonderful job in their roles. Eidschun also tells a great story about the sport of Jai Alai and also gives a good history lesson on this sport as well. I believe most of the film was shot in Tampa, but I heard they shot some in Miami, because the originally Tampa Jai Alai arena was torn down in 2000. The film also won Best Florida Film of the fest. Highly Recommended.

Tattoo Love Magic followed, which is about a man who is obsessed with his ex-girlfriendís tattoo and has to get one just like it. The man gets one from a strange tattoo artist who tells him that the tattoo will make women go wild for him. The guy ends up getting back with his girl but has other women falling all over him. The film abruptly ends and really doesnít give the audience any closure on the story. Very well shot and very good editing. The actors did an okay job in their roles but we donít get a chance to get to know them. The film could have been a little longer or explained more. It was written and directed by Ricardo Porven. Decent.

The next film up was Broken which was written and directed by Alex Ferrari. The film starts off with a woman waking up screaming during a thunderstorm in the middle of the night. She gets up and walks over to her kitchen only to be kidnapped by some intruders. Thereís an excellent opening of the title and credits that is visually striking. The woman is then tied up to a chair inside a dark factory where about six bounty hunter-looking people surround her. They keep on asking her questions that she canít answer. Like Tattoo Love Magic, the film ends with no questions answered and leaves you confused. This film had great performances from its actors and great action, editing, photography, and effects. But you werenít sure if the whole film was a dream or not. Good.

The Roman was up next, which was about a hitman, Roman Mackey, trying to get out of the business, takes one more job in killing a man who stole from Romanís boss. Roman goes to the house of his target only to find his wife and kids at home. Roman tells his wife heís a friend of the husband and she invites him for dinner. After meeting his targetís family, Roman has some second thoughts on the whole situation. Very well done. A good short story with just a few characters that gave excellent performances. Great job by lead actor, Robb Maus. Awesome photography throughout the film, especially the opening scenes. The Roman was written and directed by Alexander Bornstein and produced by Bryce Hudson. Recommended.

The last film to play in this selection was The Guzzo Brothersí The Ghosts of Ybor: The End is Blossoming. The film is a part of a series about life in Ybor City in 1940s dealing mostly with the mafia wars of that time. In The End is Blossoming, a bartender played by Justin Trombetto falls in love with one of the lead mobsterís mistresses played by Lynn Moore. The woman wants freedom for her and her baby and hopes the bartender can help. In a fit of rage, the bartender almost beats the mobster, (Rob Elfstrom) to death. This angers the mobster brother (Al Sapienza) who threatens to kill the womanís baby unless she murders the bartender. An awesome film all around. Thereís great believable characters played by excellent actors. A great and well-written story and a beautifully-shot film that captured the 1940s and gives it a touch of classic Hollywood. The film has a whoís who of Tampa talent that features Rob Elfstrom, Jereme Badger, Lynn Moore, Rod L. Griffin, Matt Camero, Gus Perez, Jennifer Moore, and newcomer Justin Trombetto. Also featuring some famous faces such as Joe Lala and Al Sapienza. The film was directed by Pete Guzzo and written by Paul Guzzo. Highly Recommended.

After the films played, there was a quick Q & A with the filmmakers. After that I had to get going and said my good-byes to my friends. I wish I could've caught more of the fest this past weekend but from what I saw from that day really impressed me. Directors of the festival, Tony Armer and Derek Miner, did an awesome job with the whole event. I think itís one of the best festivals we have here and I canít wait till next year for more great films.

"The Sunscreen Film Festival '07: My Personal Encounter" is ©2007 by Chris Woods.

All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2007 by Nolan B. Canova.

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