This spring, Tampa Bay film festivals, outdoor movies and new film releases abound

Check out our guide to the can't-miss film fests in Tampa Bay.

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click to enlarge The Sunscreen Film Festival in St. Petersburg is but one of a dazzling array of film fests in the Tampa Bay area. - Sunscreen Film Festival St. Petersburg
Sunscreen Film Festival St. Petersburg
The Sunscreen Film Festival in St. Petersburg is but one of a dazzling array of film fests in the Tampa Bay area.

Just as all things flourish in the spring, so too do the local opportunities for cinema. Well before the summer heat and humidity, here’s a chance to enjoy new films, old classics and American and international film. It’s not just the area cineplexes hosting festivals, but college campuses and anywhere there’s a big screen and comfortable chairs for viewing. Consider the following as a way to get early insight into movies whose producers hope to break out of the festival circuit and into the mainstream distribution, and pick up some inside info on how the whole film business operates.

2019 Visions of Nature/Voices of Nature Environmental Film Festival
Two consecutive weeks with evening screenings of critically acclaimed films from around the world that speak to the ever-increasing environmental concerns. The second weekend will highlight student and emerging filmmakers, plus workshops designed to nurture their original visions and voices in film making. Film scholars and filmmakers from around the world will be here, talking about their documentary, animation, experimental and feature films. Feb. 21-Mar. 2. Miller Auditorium at Eckerd College, 4200 54th Ave. S., St. Petersburg. Free.

The International Cinema Series
The series presents critically acclaimed and important films from around the world (including independent and artistic American films) every week. There are restorations of honored classics as well as contemporary films that have captured the attention of critics at recent film festivals. Miller Auditorium at Eckerd College, 4200 54th Ave. S., St. Petersburg. Weekly, 7 p.m. Free. 727-864-7979,

Sarasota Film Festival
Having just wrapped its 20th year, Sarasota Film Festival is a standout in the regional festival game, luring celebrities and locals alike to its home turf south of Tampa. With panels covering topics as diverse as “Sports in Cinema,” “Women’s Comedic Voices,” and “Redefining Manhood,” SFF takes on the issues facing moviemakers today, unafraid to dive into the nitty gritty and hyper-specific. And if “wisdom is with the aged” — as some ancient proverb surely must go — then movie makers should delight that “older audiences turn out in droves,” notes a panelist.” April 5-14.

Tampa Theatre’s WineFest 2019: Vino Royale
The event is Fest… WineFest… when Tampa Theatre presents Vino Royale, a Bond-themed fundraising weekend. And though the theme may be silly, WineFest’s purpose is most serious: Now in its 17th  year, this weekend serves as the landmark theater’s biggest annual fundraiser. Event chair Fred Zielinski notes that while James Bond may not have been much of a wine drinker, Tampa Theatre itself has a way of both shaking and stirring the hearts and minds of the community with its artistic and educational programming, as well as the 92-year-old movie palace’s ongoing preservation and restoration. They’d like guests to dress as their favorite Bond character. Feb. 22-23.

Tampa Theatre’s parkCINEMA
Tampa Theatre new outdoor film series parkCINEMA offers free screenings of popular films. Bring your picnic baskets blankets and lawn chairs. The spring 2019 parkCINEMA lineup includes:
Black Panther: Feb. 2, 7 p.m., River Tower Park, 401 E. Bird St., Tampa
Coco: Feb. 16, 7 p.m., Al Lopez Park, 4810 N. Himes Ave., Tampa
Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle: Mar. 16, 8 p.m., River Tower Park, 401 E. Bird St., Tampa
The Little Mermaid: Mar. 29, 8 p.m., Julian B. Lane Riverfront Park, 1001 N. Blvd., Tampa
E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial: Apr. 13, 8 p.m., Al Lopez Park, 4810 N. Himes Ave., Tampa

Tampa Bay Jewish Film Festival
Shown in venues in Tampa, St. Petersburg and Clearwater, the films in TBJFF celebrate the finest international films that focus on Jewish themes. Gripping dramas, thought-provoking documentaries, eclectic shorts and offbeat comedies depict Jewish life in all its rich diversity and complexity. Mar. 17-24; schedule TBA.

Gasparilla International Film Festival
Over the past 13 years, GIFF has hosted thousands of filmmakers, talent, producers, and film buffs, along with countless world premieres, USA premieres and Florida premieres. Mar. 19-24; schedule TBA. Fest ticket packages at the GIFF website:

Sunscreen Film Festival
The 14th annual Sunshine Film Festival and it promises to be bigger than ever. Sponsored by the St. Petersburg Clearwater Film Commission. Apr. 24-28, schedule TBA.

Upcoming releases scheduled between now and Memorial Day proliferate like springtime dandelions. You likely are already being bombarded by the trailers. Here are our picks.
Jan. 18: Glass
Jan. 25: The Kid Who Would Be King, Serenity
Feb. 1: Miss Bala, Three Seconds
Feb. 8: Cold Pursuit, The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part, What Men Want, The Prodigy
Feb. 13: Fighting With My Family, Isn’t It Romantic
Feb. 14: Alita: Battle Angel, Happy Death Day 2U
Feb. 22: Rhythm Section, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World
Mar. 1: Chaos Walking, Climax, Greta, Tyler Perry’s A Madea Family Funeral
Mar. 8: Captain Marvel, Gloria Bell
Mar. 15: Wonder Park, Us, The Aftermath, The Mustang
Mar. 22: Five Feet Apart, Greyhound, Where’d You Go Bernadette, The Beach Bum
Mar. 29: Dumbo, Captive State
April 5: The Best of Enemies, Pet Sematary, Shazam!, Teen Spirit
Apr. 12: Hellboy, Missing Link, High Life
Apr. 17: Breakthrough
Apr. 19: The Curse of La Llorona, Under the Silver Lake
Apr. 26: Avengers: Endgame
May 10: Detective Pikachu, The Hustle
May 17: John Wick: Chapter 3, A Dog’s Journey
May 24: Aladdin, Ad Astra, Brightburn
May 31: Godzilla: King of the Monsters, Rocketman

Ben Wiley taught literature and film at St. Petersburg College. At USF/Tampa, he was statewide Director of the Florida Consortium/University of Cambridge (UK) International Summer Schools. His interests are film, theater, books, and kayaking Florida rivers. Contact him here. Anddon't miss any event in Tampa Bay — subscribe to our weekly Do This newsletter!

About The Author

Ben Wiley

%{[ data-embed-type="image" data-embed-id="59a99bae38ab46e8230492c5" data-embed-element="span" data-embed-size="640w" contenteditable="false" ]}%Ben Wiley is a retired professor of FILM and LITERATURE at St. Petersburg College. He also was on staff in the Study Abroad Office at University of South Florida as statewide...
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