There are more than a few local film festivals that show better movies than the Gasparilla Film Festival but none that markets itself half as successfully. Even before its first film was screened, this fledgling fest was enthusiastically billing itself as the Bay areas major film event, a build-it-and-they-will-come tactic that, frankly, began to seem a little ridiculous when the actual content turned out to be so bland. Make no mistake; there were some good things to be found here the sidebar of Latin films was a nice (if obvious) idea, and the revival of Tomas Gutierrez Aleas 1961 Memories of Underdevelopment was a real treat but the bulk of GFFs schedule was decidedly uninspired, and at times there was even a sense that the festivals programmers didnt quite have a bead on their material (the opening night film Fay Grim was introduced and described in the official program notes without so much as a mention of its acclaimed director, Hal Hartley). Still, this is a festival with undeniably serious ambitions and undeniably deep pockets, so heres hoping that GFFs quality eventually catches up with its hype.
Feb 27-March 2, 2008, gasparillafilmfestival.com.