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by Nolan B. Canova

For January 11, 2008
It's hard to believe it's already been a year since the third anniversary of the TFR and the riotous opening of The Quiet Place. I blink my eyes and it's 2008 and here we are at the fourth anniversary playing the "Best Of" films of 2007 . Congratulations to the Guzzo Borhers, Peter and Paul, for bringing the little get-together they started at the Romeo Coffeehouse four years ago to The International Bazaar, the current location and centerpiece for this monthly Tampa indie film festival.

I rode with Will Moriaty and we made pretty good time getting down to the Bazaar at around 7:40pm. There was already quite a gathering outside as I spotted Tedd Webb, Joe Lala, Tony Garcia, Joe Davison, Jon Wolding, Chris Woods, Joe Garcia, Jr., too many others to remember off the top of my head, and of course, the Guzzo Brothers.

This was an awards show and "best of", so all the movies exhibited I'd already seen and reviewed before, save one, the Tampa Digital Studio's Experience Dali amazing CGI-fest, which I'll get to in a moment. We had much to look forward to this night as we were treated to the very best movies Tampa has to offer, three screens, three projectors, along with meeting the filmmakers whose talents were being saluted. Their awards were given to them by celebrity presenters who themselves share a rich Tampa history.

I'm side-stepping my usual review format to re-run some of the PCR reviews that originally ran with the event these films played. There is no "Film of the Night" tonight because, well, these are ALL films of the night! (The original reviews will contain the original critics' ratings.) Following are the winners, a little insider info, and, of course, the reviews.

Here we go....
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Tampa/Ybor legends (l-to-r) Joe Lala, Tedd Webb, and Tony Garcia Jr are some of the movers and shakers presenting awards tonight.
Yours truly gets in the middle of a shot with actor Joe Lala (left) and radio personality Tedd Webb (right). OK, I'm also showing off my new hat, and Will Moriaty's Florida T-shirt!
"Canova" comic artist/writer John Miller, left, with Shelby McIntyre, center, and Joe Davison outside the International Bazaar.
First friendly faces inside are from the hit comedy troupe Damage Control, Inc., Gia Porras, left and Gene May, right.
Bob Ross, left, former movie critic for the Tampa Tribune gave yours truly a very warm welcome. is where he hangs his hat now. If we look a little sweaty in the photo, well, it was a really hot night!
An adorable shot of some very talented young people. L-to-R (front row) Jesse Wolf and Jesse Newman of The Apple Tree. Behind them, the smiling faces of Ground Up films, L-to-R, Jon Wolding, Jon's girlfriend (lost her name, so sorry), and Jen Persons.
Abyssmal Entertainment's Stephen Shea, right, is content to let his young charge, Jonathan Vazquez, far left, hog the limelight. Just behind Jon's head you might be able to make out young Kendall Ganey, the little girl from Mr. Bubbs.
Ali Imran Zaidi takes the award for the most socially-conscious film of the year, A Man in the Attic. I pronounced it the most important film to play the TFR last year (maybe ever) and I stand by that.
An admittedly not-very-terrific shot of Jon Wolding and Jen Persons accepting their award for Best Cinematography.
970 WFLA's Tedd Webb (holding mic) speaks to Paul Guzzo (left) and the audience about the story of Rondo Hatton for whom tonight's horror award is named.
Eli T. Pena, director of winner Near The End, accepts the "Best Horror" movie award from Tedd.
Center, Sean Michael Davis and Cliff Gephart accept the award for "Best Comedy" for Pawn'd
Little Kendall Ganey stole everyone's heart when she came up to accept her award for Best Performance -Female for her role in Mr. Bubbs.
Fans of old Channel 13 WTVT remember sports director "Salty" Sol Fleischman. Here, Sol, Jr. is presenting the award for Best Young Filmmaker (Jonathan Vazquez, not pictured here).
Joe Davison accepts the award for Soulidium: Trapped being Best Music Video on behalf of himself and Marcus Koch who happened to be in Texas this night and could not attend.
Actor Ian Powers, left, and director Ben Rosa accept the award for Best Family Film: Meet Pino.
The one, the only, the inimitable, Joel D. Wynkoop accepts the Lifetime Achiement Award. Joel has filmed and starred in over 40 "B" movies and continues to be popular at conventions.

"EXPERIENCE DALI" Tampa Digital Studios. Directed by Pete Guzzo. An art patron visits the Dali museum in St. Petersburg and partakes of a most surreal and immersive experience.

This was the only new movie of the night, so we start out with this promotional spot for the Salvador Dali museum in St. Pete, and an effective one it is! I heard this Tampa Digital Studios production took about a year to complete and it paid off. Absolutely stunning photography, state-of-the-art effects, a soothing soundtrack, and well, you get the idea. Cinematographer Eric Curtis and Director Pete Guzzo introduce us to the Dali museum in some crystal clear night shots as our lovely young art patron (Angela Cash) approaches the building, strolls through the open door and into another universe. Richard Servello and Ahkeith Salley basically take over after this, as they appear to be the computer-effects and editing wizzes behind what comes next. (I think I've met Richard before, but I never remember his name. I won't make that mistake again.) Our patron actually enters many of the paintings, walking in and out of them, interacting with their elements. Other pieces sort of form a cocoon around her. The action is smooth, non-stop, yet relaxing in an almost transcendental kind of way. Finish off with some to-die-for sunset shots of Treasure Island and your ready to experience this for yourself! Our own Joe Davison and Marcus Koch helped with set contruction and props. This short film (maybe 5 or 6 minutes) earns my Highest Recommendation.

The following are the award winners, their presenters, some background, and our reviews. Thanks to Paul Guzzo for help with this info.

The La Gaceta Award for the Most Socially Conscious Film – "A Man in the Attic" by Ali Imran Zaidi: An American Muslim ponders, discusses and ruminates on his position in America, and the decline of his people in western civilization.

Award name: Three generations of the Manteiga family have owned and operated La Gaceta Newspaper for 85 years. As an independent newspaper with a voice of its own, the Manteigas have used the newspaper as a tool to fight social injustices throughout the City of Tampa.

Original review from February, 2007
A Man in the Attic by Ali Imran Zaidi: An American Muslim ponders, discusses and ruminates on his position in America, and the decline of his people in western civilization.
The TFR had some strong films this night, but this one has my vote for movie of the night, and certainly, the most important. Scenes are shown in the day in the life of our subject, an American Muslim, while the voice-over (a narration that borders on poetry) struggles to define what friends are at the same time a terrifying lonliness is felt at being the currently stigmatized outsider. We feel his pain as he describes why his people are seen as the default villains of modern times due to our being exposed only to the "tiniest example of the very worst slices of dark humanity", i.e., they are not me. The "Man in the Attic" in the title refers to the traditional final place of escape before they bust down the door to find you. A compelling case is made that none of this is new: in every decade, a race of people is villified and hounded for one reason or another. The question is, sure, you feel safe now, but when will they come after you? Some fancy camera and editing tricks lift the photography out of the merely pedestrian and into a more ethereal, stream-of-consciousness direction, echoing the narration. Director Ali Imran Zaidi himself is the narrator, which gives the film an even more autobiographical feel (no doubt the point) and I was fortunate enough to meet him after the show and conveyed my gratitude for the experience. It's seven minutes you won't soon forget. Very Highly Recommended.

The Cesar Gonzmart Award for Best Musical Score - "Al-Vi-Ne-Al", by Zeke Lever and Georger Tsalickis: The Lord of Ice and Lord of Fire engage in an epic battle with the salvation of the human race hanging in the balance. But this war will not be won with weapons, but esoterically and spiritually.

Award name: Cesar Gonzmart is the late-owner of the Columbia Restaurant in Ybor City. Before joining the world famous restaurant, which he co-managed with his wife Adela from the mid-1950s until his death in 1992, he was also a world famous violinist.

Original review from October, 2007
Nolan Canova: This is a different kind of filmmaking altogether. Incredible imagery, imaginative camera work, meticulous editing, layers of meaning and a meandering theme basically having to do with crime and punishment, justice and oppression, world politics, secret governments and the battle for our souls. I particularly like how Lady Justice seems to gain her sight over the course of the film. Fire and Ice battle across time in a final sequence that keeps you riveted, even if you're barely keeping up (like me). Not for everybody, but for pretty groundbreaking visuals and a creating a sense of awe-inspiring mythos, I can't help but give it a Highly Recommended.
Terence Nuzum: Beautifully shot and constructed art film that has two figures, one representing freedom and one representing complacency (I'm guessing) of the human spirit. The symbols represented by characters are pretty cool. For instance, Justice is blindfolded and resides in the courthouse and the villain of the piece is the corrupted government represnted by an elderly man in black. I followed the whole thing all the way through till the end battle resolution, and then, somehow, it lost me. I hate to say that, because I am the guy who understands Eraserhead and yet it just escaped me. Either way, this film is not to be missed. Recommended.
Chris Passinault: This was not a film. It was an experience delivered to the audience in the vessel of a film. If you ever get the chance to see it, please take the time to watch it at least three times. It will take the average person at least three viewings to get all of the meaning of this masterpiece. I'm not saying that this is the best film that I have ever seen. It's not. It is one of the best local indie films that I have seen, however. The filmmakers described to the audience that this was an experimental film with a lot of mythological imagery of many elements. This, of course, is what I gleaned from the back row, as it is very hard to hear film introductions at the Tampa Film Review. At any rate, they were right, if I did hear them correctly. There is a lot of meaning and depth to this musical video. A lot of imagery. A lot of cool camera work and excellent post production effects. I really loved the 180 degree camera pans around the actors, smooth at first, and then sped up as they dropped-frames in editing. Awesome, awesome stuff. One meaning that I obtained from viewing this film was "justice is no longer blind". See it with this in mind, and you will know exactly what I am talking about. Film of the Night.

The Bud Lee Award for Best Cinematography: Ground-Up Films: Ground Up Films is being honored with this award not for one film, but for the numerous films they showcased at the TFR this past year, all of which were beautifully filmed and lit.

Award name: Bud Lee is a Tampa photographer who has been published in Life, Esquire, Rolling Stone, Town & Country, and The New York Times Magazine. His photograph of a boy wounded in the Newark riots won him Life magazine's 1967 photographer of the year award. He co-founded Tampa’s Artists and Writers Ball and has influenced a number of artists throughout Tampa.

Original review of "In On It" from December, 2006. It was not eligible for the 2007 awards, but it was shown to he TFR audience as a sample of their talent. In On It. John Wolding and Jen Persons. Claire's night out turns deadly.
Nolan Canova. This film comes from the same folks who brought us the very entertaining Last Night seen at last month's TFR. This starts out as a romantic comedy, but things quickly get ugly as our leading lady (Heather Diaz), out for a much-anticipated date with her boyfriend (Brandon Windish) gets carjacked at a local gas station when he goes in for cigarettes. She tries to get away from her kidnapper, but the bad guy gets the best of her. What happenes next is hinted at in the film's title, but let's just say her taste in boyfriends is wanting. The twist ending is very dark, but enjoyable in that Creepshow kind of way. Director Jen Persons has pulled off another winner. Jon Wolding's cinematography is at least as good as on Last Night (maybe better, actually) and the writing and editing is tight. Was that our young Ben Waller I saw in the credits as a PA? The one who's now at UCLA? Basically, this is Jen and Jon' show and it demonstrates, yet again, what a small, but very dedicated and talented group of people can do with very little. Shot with a PS2 camera and edited with Final Cut Pro. Highly recommended.
Chris Woods. Another cool film that takes a different turn in the middle. The short film starts off like a romantic comedy as we see a girl getting ready for a date and then we cut to the date on his way to pick her up, and both of them are singing the same song. Well, the guy picks her up and on their way to dinner he stops at a gas station for some smokes. As the girl is left in the car alone, she is suddenly carjacked and kidnapped. The girl eventually gets away but only for a few moments when she is confronted with her kidnapper in the woods. I don’t want to give away the ending, but of course there’s a twist. The film was very well shot and the video had a nice film look to it. A very well crafted film with all the right elements. Only thing I have to say, it ended too soon and leaving us hanging. But all and all it was a great short.

The Rondo Hatton Award for Best Horror Film: "Near the End" by Eli T. Pena – Since the early 1900s we've witnessed countless times of the villain chasing the damsel in distress. Journey with us as we time travel back to horror cinema.

Award name: The late-Rondo Hatton began his career as a journalist in Tampa and ended up being one of the most famous faces in fright films in the 1940s, starring in films such as "The Pearl of Death" (1944) and "House of Horrors" (1946), both released by Universal Pictures.
Tonight's presenter: radio personality Tedd Webb.

Original review from February, 2007
This is a fun little film, perhaps unintentionally funny at times, where director Eli Peña shows off his filmlook chops. Several scenes of a damsel-in-distress pursued by a villain (Ezra Clark and Kristen Landers play the couple in all instances) portrayed how it would've looked in the '20s, '30's, '40s, '70s, '80s and today. Starting with themes similar to The Phantom of the Opera and Dracula, right up through zombies and Jason Vorhees and beyond. A lot happens in the short 5 minutes this is playing, and the ending is a cute wink-at-the-audience. The screenplay is solely meant to advance the effect so don't look for anything groundbreaking there, but the clever film simulations are among the best I've ever seen. Film students should get a kick out of this one.

The Tony Garcia Award for Best Comedy: "Pawn’d" by Sean Michael Davis - Joe Medici lives in a high-class neighborhood but owns a pawnshop in the ghetto of a Florida city. The employees as well as the customers bring a comical and zany twist of amusement to Joe's everyday life

Award name: The late-Tony Garcia was Tampa's "Mr. USO" for some 40 years, serving personnel from Tampa's MacDill Air Force Base, Naval Reserve unit and military. He later produced variety shows for numerous Tampa Bay charities.
Tonight's presenter: Tony Garcia, Jr.

Original review from April, 2007

  • Nolan. Brett Rice, the boss who anchored Autographs for French Fries, shines here as Joe Medici, a supremely confident and happy pawn-shop owner who's surrounded by a zany cast of characters and customers. From the crack whore who lies about being one, to the intense cop who insists there's something illegal happening, to the girl who sells her piercing jewelry, to the very weird hearse-driver who sells cadaver's teeth, every one is special. My two favorites: Joe's friend "Dutch", who pretty much sits in a corner quietly until deadbeat employee Jimmy mentions his jailbird girlfriend. "She's a whore!!" Dutch exclaims at her every mention. And "Prosthetic Pete" -- this must be seen to be believed. He wants to pawn his prosthetic leg. He takes it off and reveals his bum leg is not only dwarfed, but pointed backwards! (The accompanying freeze-frame caption: "WTF???" My biggest laugh of the night, right there.) This is non-stop, fast-paced comedy, well-written, well-acted, and well-directed. It is reputedly in development for Comedy Central and I think it has an excellent chance. Very Highly Recommended and the Film of the Night.
  • Terence. While not entirely my thing and while some of the jokes need to be stronger, it absolutely has the potential to be on Comedy Central. This is what I assume the filmmakers are striving for, as it appears to be a pilot. The main actor who plays Joe Medici, Brett Rice, is star quality and the supporting players are, too. I also loved the freeze-frames with captions stenciled in on them. The director Sean Micheal Davis seems like he had no false or missed potentials here. He nailed it dead on. Film of the Night.
  • Chris. This hilarious film by Sean Michael Davis was the film of the night. They did a great job putting together this little comedy. It had very funny characters through out the movie. The lead actor, Brett Rice who was the owner of the pawnshop was the best out of the bunch. The quality of the whole film was very sharp and top notch. It had great outrageous moments. One that comes to mind is the guy that pawns his prosthetic leg and then shows that the guy is not totally legless but with a shrunken leg of sorts that pretty much is just his foot. Weird looking! Not sure if this was real or an effect, but if it was an effect of sorts they did a good job pulling it off. Other moments was the woman pawning all her jewelry that was pierced in very private places and the woman on crack was funny too. We were told at the event, that Comedy Central is looking at it and possibly make it into a series. I can definitely see it on Comedy Central or even HBO or Showtime. This movie is a must see. Highly recommended and Film of the Night.

    The Adela Gonzmart Award for Best On Screen Performance (Male and Female):

    The late Adela Gonzmart operated the world famous Columbia Restaurant with her husband, Cesar, for over four decades. Adela graduated from the Julliard School of Music in New York. She became an accomplished concert pianist who also traveled the world with leading orchestras. She also appeared at Carnegie Hall.
    Rod Griffin (now Rod Grant): Rod starred in a number of TFR films this past year. No matter the film or the role, the crowd always left feeling Rod stole the show.
    Kendall Ganey of Mr. Bubbs, directed by Todd Thompson - A stranger picks the wrong girl to kidnap one bright, sunny day in suburbia.

    The “Salty” Sol Fleischman Award for Best Young Filmmaker Award: "Beneath the Surface" by Jonathan Vazquez - The journey of a dollar bill and the lives of the different, yet similar people who come in contact with it.

    The late-"Salty Sol" was the longtime host of an amateur night at the Tampa Theatre, which helped to launch numerous careers of local musicians. He is best know for spending almost 20 years behind the WDAE microphones, many of them as the station’s Chief Announcer and Sports Director, becoming one of the most beloved radio personality in the history of Tampa.
    Tonight's presenter: Sol Fleischman, Jr.

    Original review from July, 2007
    Nolan: At first reminding me of the similar idea used in John Matheny's The Supply Curve, this film goes much farther with it, adding more detail and drama as we follow the path of a dollar bill (in some shots I could swear it's a twenty) from hand-to-hand in virtually all walks of life in the host city. Well-acted, good script, nice photography (by Jason Liquori of PCR's "Jason's Jungle" fame). I'm not sure if this was a 48-Hour film project or not, but here's the kicker: the director is either still in high school or just out! AND.... is a protegé of Steven Shea (Abyssmal Entertainment, Andre the Butcher), both of whom were in the audience and I was able to meet. This kid is going to go far. An amazing debut. Highly Recommended.
    Chris Woods: A very interesting film where the film follows a dollar bill and its owners. Different types of people in different types of situations who come in contact with the dollar. The acting is top notch and the story is very well written. Highly Recommended.
    Chris Passinault: Am I to understand that this film was done by a high school student? A good film that, when seen in the light of this knowledge, is indicative of great things ahead for the film maker. This said, I did have a few issues with the film. The plot reminded me of another short shown at the TFR some months back (The Supply Curve presented by John Matheny - November 2006 TFR ), making a monetary bill a character as it traces its path from person to person. The pacing was slow in some parts of the film, and in this one scene were a flower shop employee shoots a druggie thief and his girl friend behind a closed door the shots were too close together; he would not have had time to re-aim the gun between shots and would have had to discharge a full clip to kill them both shooting this fast. Other than these issues, this is a really good film, and I am looking forward to see more good films from this talented director. Recommended.

    The Joe Lala Award for Best Music Video: "Soulidium: Trapped" directed by Marcus Koch, produced by Joe Davison - Song featured on the Saw 4 soundtrack, video featured on the Saw 4 DVD.

    Award name: Joe Lala played drums and percussion on 32 gold and 28 platinum albums. His credits include Blues Image, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Manassas (album), The Bee Gees, Whitney Houston, and many others.
    Tonight's presenter: Joe Lala.

    Original review from October, 2007
    Nolan Canova: Heavy/Death metal video featuring some great performances and nightmarish visions care of 100 Tears genius and make-up wiz Marcus Koch. Shot on much of the same equipment as 100 Tears, yet looks amazingly more advanced or something. This video is absolutely MTV-ready (if that means anything anymore). Marcus is soooo ready for the big time. Oh, and the music's great, too, but I've always been a rivet-head. Highly Recommended.
    Terence Nuzum: Marcus Koch's 100 Tears follow-up (of sorts) on a technical level makes up for any of 100 Tears visual shortcomings. A truly professional-looking effort that is only marred by the fact that it's Saw and the band is really bland. This will be on the Saw 4 DVD and on MTV as I understand it. This might make Marcus the first of Tampa's local directors to have "made it to the big time", as they say. Highly Recommeded.
    Chris Passinault: Wow. Wow. Wow again. Marcus Koch and Joe Davison are on a roll here. After the brilliant 100 Tears, they follow up with an awesome music video, for a great band, with savagely effective art direction. This video combines heavy metal with gothic / horror imagery. The singer looked demon-possessed, and it was very effective for what they were going for. Camera work, audio, and production values are professional and top-notch. This video would be at home on MTV or VH1, and it would hang with the best of them.
    Oh, and I did tell Joe Davison that this music video was, in boiled-down essence, what The Quiet Place should have been. Runner Up for Film of the Night.

    The International Bazaar Award for Best Family Film: "Meet Pino" by Ben Rosa - Pino Gheppeto a 48-year-old bitter man who carries the weight and burden of regret about a significant decision he made in the past. Pino's only happiness lie in playing with toys, Toys that help him reconnect to his once magical childhood.

    Award name: The host of the TFR, the International Bazaar brings family entertainment to Ybor City throughout the year.

    Original review from March, 2007
    Nolan. The title and main character's name should give you a hint as to where this is going, haha. A lengthy opening segment shows our boy Pino (Ian Powers in a fantastic performance) playing with his super-hero action figures, his over-the-top zeal rivaling any 10-year-old's genuine involvement. Reality check soon comes in as he must stop playing and get to the office to attend to business. His first appointment brings a mother and her young son in to correct an accounting error. The boy, Austin, starts playing with an action figure Pino can't take his eyes off of. When the boy (played well by Austin Blay) refuses to part with his toy, a panicky call to the local toy store results in a personal visit by Pino. When a scuffle with another 12-year-old over the last "Victoro" figure nearly results in a fist-fight, the store manager intervenes --- and in a dreamy, magical sequence, this Blue Fairy (the beautiful Kate Holliday) admonishes Pino (get it yet?) that he's been a very bad boy and must be punished. Dandy little drama, good performances, very nice music soundtrack. Highly recommended.
    Terence. Very interesting take on the "what if Pinnochio became a real boy and grew up" theory. Although the filmmakers somehow translated that into Pinnochio would still be playing with toys at 40. Yet, I don't remember Pinnochio playing with any toys in the original fairy tale, so I assumed that even though he is a real boy now, he still feels an affinity for toys, because somehow they relate to puppets and remind him of his past. I guess. Not sure exactly what happened at the end with the fairy godmother, though. Decent.

    The Lector Award for Best Drama: "The Apple Tree" directed by Jesse Newman – When Ruben's writing is panned and ignored by his ex-girlfriend and best friend, he meets a peculiar young woman who leads him to an apple tree of inspiration. As his newest story becomes more and more realistic, it begins to haunt and control him. It becomes up to his ex-girlfriend and best friend to save him, but in order to change Ruben's story, they must first become a part of it.

    In the days before radio, "lectors" were hired by cigar manufacturers to read to the employees while they worked. It was the lector who educated many working folks on news and entertainment of the day by being able to tell a good story inserting drama into the written word.

    Original review from November, 2007
    Nolan Canova: An extremely ambitious first film from newcomer 20-year-old Jesse Newman (who also stars as "Ruben"). The plot synopsis stated above pretty much says it all, but it's easy to get lost in the story, both figuratively and literally. The dream-like situations Ruben finds himself in echo other similar efforts where a story writer appears to "write his life" live as it's happening (Icon Film Studio's To Live is To Die comes to mind, as well as bits of Todd Langen's 42 Story House). It's not clearly that way at first, but as situation after situation dissolves you begin to wonder if Ruben even has a real life! Foggy scenes in a forest with a mystery woman suggests an Adam and Eve motif, but that is just one among many as Ruben struggles to find his story. Some funny situations occur and the whole film is very well-shot and edited.
       I must say, the young cast certainly has some fine acting chops! Co-star Jesse Wolf I'd actually met at St. Pete's Globe Coffeehouse a year ago under completely different circumstances. And Jesse Newman's father (present at TFR) has also acted in a local film (he told me which one, but I forgot, sorry). This was a delight to watch and the young people behind it have a bright future. Highly Recommended and Film of the Night.
    Chris Woods: A good film by Jesse Newman, which I believe is his first film. The movie is shot and edited very well. The actors in the film are likeable and do a good job. The story idea is interesting, but it tends to drag in most parts and there’s lots of confusion at times on what’s going and what is real and what is part of the story that lead character, Ruben is writing. The film picks up and the end and there’s some bright spots in the movie. One of them is when Ruben’s best friend approaches a woman and starts to dance with her. The scene becomes like a fantasy and everyone is dancing as music is played. Suddenly the girl’s boyfriend comes out of nowhere and punches the best friend. That part was great. There also seemed to be an Adam and Eve theme to it, when Ruben is in a garden and gives him an apple to eat. There are also lots of reds and greens in the film that kind of represents the apple. Not sure if the filmmaker did that on purpose or not, but I picked up on that. Would like to see more films from Newman. Recommended and Film of the Night.

    The Rene Gonzalez Award for Best Director: Stefan Abbot (Vino-Figueroa), director of "Gunn Highway". (film summary included in following award)

    Award name: Rene Gonzalez is founder and director of the Spanish Lyric Theatre, the longest running Hispanic theatre company in the country and longest running English musical theatre company in Tampa.

    The Martinez-Ybor Award for Best Film: "Gunn Highway" by Stefan Abbott (Vino-Figueroa) – Looks can be deceiving. Just because someone looks one way on the outside, doesn’t mean they look the same on the inside.

    Award name: The award was named in honor of Martinez-Ybor, founder of Ybor City.

    Original review from August, 2007
    Nolan: This entry came out of nowhere and knocked us out with pro lighting, pro acting, top-drawer camera-work, creative direction. Jeezis, everything. Rod L. Griffin (aka, Rod Grant), smoking a cigar, and Rich Boyd sit in a dark room chatting, trading dream stories, and the like, against a nearly black background. Doesn't sound like much so far, except that the caliber of their deliveries keeps you riveted. The "flashbacks" are hilarious, even surreal. As the show wears on, we discover these two men's destinies are very dark. I've seen Rod Griffin in movies before. He was OK. Here? He is AMAZING. Why? The lighting? The direction? Maybe. Maybe Rod was having an exceptional day. His buddy, Rich Boyd, is incredible, like out of an HBO special or something, but with a gritty quality. To me this had David Lynch written all over it, and I even asked the director, Stefan Vino-Figueroa about it afterwards. He said his hero was Stanley Kubrick. OK, good enough. Very Highly Recommended, Film of the Night, and One of the Top 10 Films Ever to Play at TFR
    Terence: Wow! This came out of nowhere and hit like a semi truck. Top notch camerawork, lighting on a pro level, and acting that can't be beat. Almost a flawless film. The moral tale thingy was a bit thin and if they were going for statement on capital punishment then they didn't push it far enough. I suspect though that it's simply a self-explanatory tale which is brilliantly directed with a visual style in some scenes that has echoes of Wes Craven's dinner table sequence from Last House on The Left and the noirish nightmares of David Lynch's Blue Velvet. And while I haven't seen everything ever made locally, from what I have seen, this is hands down the best short film made locally. Film of the Night. Best Film of TFR ever!!
    Chris Woods: All right, now this is a movie to see. A very creative film from new director Stefan Vino-Figueroa. The film is just awesome. Probably one of the best films that ever played at the TFR or (CFR). It was very well written and was a great example of a well done character piece. Vino-Figueroa knows how to direct his actors. Rod L. Griffin gives an amazing performance as a man on death row talking to another death row prisoner at their last hour. We witness Griffin become a superstar in front of our very eyes with this role. The other lead, Rich Boyd in the film gives an awesome performance. His best part is when he’s about to be executed and he speaks his last words. The other actors in the film, such as Rachael Lee, do great jobs as well. Some of the film had a great gritty look, kind of retro 70’s, which was cool. The cinematography was just beautiful and the lighting was top notch and best I’ve ever seen in any film period. Especially the scene where Rich Boyd walks in the room and about to be executed and the light is just glowing on him and around him is total darkness, that was very well done. The whole film was a well rounded great piece of art. I enjoyed it very much and can’t wait to see the next film from this talented filmmaker. Very Highly Recommended and Film of the Night.

    The Ferdie Pacheco Lifetime Achievement Award: to actor Joel D. Wynkoop.

    Award name: Ferdie Pacheco, MD has been called a Renaissance Man. He has been successful as a pharmacist, medical doctor, Fight Doctor in boxing, including working as a corner man for twelve world champions, including Muhammad Ali for 17 years. He also served as a boxing commentator for NBC, Showtime and Univision, winning two Emmies. During this time he was the Boxing Consultant for NBC for 10 years. He is retired from broadcasting after being on for 25 years. He has had 14 books published, and written articles, columns, reviews for many of the major newspapers in America.

    Final thoughts
    Nolan here. I participated in a video interview conducted after the show where quite a few of us spoke with Bob Ross on camera. I assume that will be made available soon, but I don't have any further information on it.

    While we all had a great time, the number one complaint this night was the heat. One major reason our numbers dwindled towards the end is because the body-heat of over 300 people in fairly close quarters overwhelmed the air-conditioning system and became oppressive. This will need to be addressed before anything this big can be staged like this again.

    Visit for more info on the Tampa Film Review.

    "The Tampa Film Review for January" is ©2008 by Nolan B. Canova, with contributions by Terence Nuzum, and Chris Woods.

    All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2008 by Nolan B. Canova.

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