Celebrating independent filmmaking in the Tampa Bay area, the Sunshine City Film Festival enters its third year, bolder and brighter than before. Through Jan. 21, SCFF offers new movies, new filmmakers, student shorts, music videos, workshops, celebrity guests, networking socials, live music, professional mixers and prize giveaways.
It really is all about recognizing the burgeoning film industry throughout Tampa Bay. The state may have cut funding for the arts drastically, but that hasn’t deterred local filmmakers from pursuing their craft. SCFF recognizes and celebrates that commitment.
Cranston Cumberbatch, local actor and filmmaker, is this year’s festival director, assuming the role after the passing of SCFF's founding director, Richard Stefanic. Cumberbatch took a break from his rehearsal for American Stage’s upcoming production of Pipeline to comment that the role of the Sunshine City Film Festival is simply to nourish and nurture the local film industry.
Bringing actors, directors, distributors, writers and technical crews together at the festival fosters a respected platform for the film community to connect on all levels. Because film can be such a driver for economic development, SFCC can help bridge the financial gap from a lack of state funding by bringing this diverse community together for self-generated projects.
The best example of how like-minded networking can lead to solid accomplishment is the feature film Agent X: The Movie. Last year it was just an idea bouncing around at at the festival, but one year later, it’s the closing night feature (Jan. 21). Directed by Jabaar Edmond and co-written by Edmond and Cumberbatch, this secret agent film is a purely local endeavor with all local actors, filmed locally (with 90% filmed in St. Petersburg).
The juried entries in the film festival promise a unique and diverse take on all things cinematic. They'll award prizes for Best Documentary, Best Editing, Best Indie Short, Best Feature, Best Web Series, Best Cinematography, Best Female Actor, Best Male Actor, Best Film Screenplay, Best Director and an Audience Choice Award.
SCFF highlights include:
Wednesday, Jan. 16: Inspiration Night at the historic Royal Theater features an evening showcase of inspirational, motivational, self-help and faith-based film messages from top local filmmakers.1011 22nd St. S., St. Petersburg.
Thursday, Jan. 17: International Night at the USF Grand Ballroom St. Pete, hosted by film director/writer/producer Ziad "Zee" Ahmed. There will be film screenings, live DJ, live performances. USF St. Petersburg, St. Petersburg.
Friday, Jan. 18: Official kickoff party. Neo Soul Cafe, 1742 Central Ave. St. Petersburg.
Saturday, Jan. 19: Multiple workshops at USF Harbor Hall facilitated by industry professionals for those interested in independent film making careers. USF St. Petersburg, Harbor Hall, St. Petersburg.
Sunday, Jan. 20: Film screenings including Student Night, Student and Independent Shorts Showcase. AMC Sundial 20, St. Petersburg.
Monday, Jan. 21: Film screenings including Red Carpet Feature Film Agent X: The Movie, Music Videos and Indie Shorts Showcase, followed by the after-party and closing ceremony. AMC Sundial 20, St. Petersburg.
Sunshine City Film Festival | Venues include Dr. Carter G. Woodson African History Museum, Palladium Theater, Royal Theater, [email protected], USF Grand Ballroom, Neo Soul Cafe and Sundial AMC 20 | Through Jan. 21 | sunshinecityfilmfestival.com
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.