Ybor Hosts Gasparilla International Film Festival Including “The Forbidden Shore”

The 10th annual Gasparilla International Film Festival is screening at the Muvico Centro Ybor. The festival boasted everything from Hollywood stars to local filmmakers. For Canadian director Ron Chapman, this was a chance to showcase his newest work, “The Forbidden Shore.”

“He’s just an amazing filmmaker. And he’s become a close friend to the Gasparilla (International) Film Festival,” Michelle Canas, the festival’s marketing coordinator, said.

“He does a lot of the film festival route and he has a lot of projects coming up so I’m very excited to see it.”

Over four-and-a-half years of filming culminated into the feature exploring Cuban culture and musical heritage. Even though leaders have vowed to improve ties between the United States and Cuba, Chapman believes that a verbal agreement leaves much to do to strengthen relations.

“This is certainly the beginning of a path that’s going to help them, but it isn’t like you snap your fingers and there’s change,” Chapman said.

“Change will take a long time.”

“The Forbidden Shore” screened to a sold out crowd and Chapman later won the best documentary feature award. Not too bad for only his second Gasparilla entry. Despite the accolades, his real focus remains on the Cuban people. Chapman said that exchanging cultures is key to success moving forward.

“When you’re not having a political discussion, you’re only having a creative discussion then that opens the doors for people understanding that they have so much in common,” Chapman said.

USF’s Bullstock to Host Local Performers Student Bands

The University of South Florida is ready to celebrate their most eventful week of the year, as its annual USF week began on Monday. USF week is a week-long celebration, headlined by the Bullstock music concert on Friday night.

“Bullstock is the biggest event USF has to offer,” Richard Scibetti , a coordinator at the University’s Center for Student Involvement who oversees Bullstock, said.

The event has hosted bands such as Panic! at the Disco, Young the Giant, Thirty Seconds to Mars, and Twenty One Pilots. This year, the organizers decided to do something different.

“This year we wanted more of a festival feel,” Scibetti said. “Where there is no big key headliner. There is a group of bands that have their different audiences.”

The performers at this years Bullstock are New Politics, Børns, and a package of bands featured in this years Vans Warped Tour. Those bands are Mayday Parade, The Maine, Reckless Serenade and Assuming We Survive.

The event also showcases some of USF’s talent as well. Athena Bressack, who oversees USF Week as a whole, said that this was her favorite part about Bullstock.

“The first two bands that open (Bullstock) are student bands,” Bressack said, “Earlier in March we had an event called Battle of the Bands that we have every year and there is a judge winner and a people’s choice winner. So both of those bands get to open up Bullstock and who knows? Maybe they’ll be headliners somewhere one day.”

Bullstock is expected to draw a crowd of over 5,000 people. The event kicks off at 5 p.m. in parking lot 22D at the USF Sun Dome.

Bullstock is free and open to the public.

Cobra’s Curse To Slither Its Way Into Busch Gardens

The new ride at Busch Gardens is living up to the park’s reputation for innovative roller coasters.

Cobra’s Curse gives thrill seekers a new experience by having the cart spin as it rides along the track. The snake-like curves will cause the cart to spin differently depending on rider size.

“If you have the vehicle loaded with a linebacker in one corner and a cheerleader in the other, then it spins like crazy,”Jeff Hornick, the lead engineer said.

One might think that a ride that sounds so intense is geared more toward young adults. This isn’t the case.

“For Cobra’s Curse, it’s a 42 inch height restriction. So kids probably around five or six can ride with the whole family,” Hornick said.

There are two additional aspects of the ride that are new for Busch Gardens attractions.

One is a vertical lift for the cart to reach maximum height rather than a ramp.

The other is a loading station that puts riders on a moving platform as they get in the cart. This will lessen line waiting time.

It is not just the new ride concept that makes this attraction one of a kind.

Accompanying the roller-coaster will be an air-conditioned indoor que that will house a live snake exhibit.

“As people are waiting to get on the ride they are being educated about a really cool species,” Associate Marketing Director, Stephanie Fred said.

Construction on Cobra’s Curse is still in progress. The ride officially opens this summer.

 

African Infused With Caribbean Dance Shakes Up Wesley Chapel

The founder and CEO of Tampa Bay AfroFit, is aiming to spread the influence of African culture into the Tampa Bay community by infusing it with dance and cardio.

Natacha Zamor was raised by Haitian parents in Montreal.

Zamor grew up learning Haitian folk dances with her grandmother.

“When we would dance, we would sweat, we really did sweat and I remember always thinking this is such a great workout,” Zamor said.

Before starting Afrofit in 2015, Zamor—who was been a registered nurse— saw the need for an exercise program like this in the community. She noticed many programs, such as Zumba, and thought that there  was something missing for the people of African decent.

“It’s not just exercise, we dance, we laugh, and also she (Zamor) educates people,” Roberte Francios, an AfroFit participant, said.

Since starting AfroFit, Zamor has made it her mission to educate those around her about what they are really doing during their time with her.

“Our mission, our culture, doesn’t just rest on that, it rests on the younger generations, older generations, re-appropriating what has been lost,” Zamor said. Afrofit is located in Wesley Chapel Florida.

To learn more about AfroFit group classes, events and workshops please visit their website Tampabayafrofit.com or email them at Tampabayafrofit@gmail.com.

 

A Factory’s Support For The Children

A Factory’s support for the Children

Pam and Tom Cronin, owners of the Shell Factory, spent years renovating and redesigning the park with families in mind- especially the kids. Field trips to the park are welcomed, and the Cronin’s are willing to help teachers overcome any obstacles to make the trips possible for the students.  

“When Lee county stopped supplying school buses for the kids for field trips, Tom and Pam Cronin decided they would do it. So we pay for all the kids to come here,” Anne Sheridan, the Shell Factory general manager, said.

During these sponsored field trips, students get to experience nature up close in the Nature Park. According to the website, the Nature Park includes over 400 wild animals; aviaries filled with different types of birds, tortoises, turtles and iguanas; an Eco Lab for exotic snakes and more. Gator biscuits are also available for visitors to toss out to the alligators that live within the park.

Our Nature Park Environmental Education Foundation has raised capital sufficient to fund field trips for over four thousand school children who otherwise would have been unable to visit the attraction,” The Cronins said on their website.

The park, however, is still growing and changing every year.

“As a work in progress the Nature Park is always expanding, improving, and acquiring new inhabitants,” according to the Shell Factory’s website.

Pam and Tom also host special events outside of school functions on the property. Weddings and corporate meetings can utilized one of two special rooms in the park- the Dolphin room and the Party Room- as well as birthday parties or other celebrations.

The factory was voted best shell store by North Fort Myers in both 2014 and 2015. Years in the making, the Shell Factory has become one of the best places in South Florida for locals and tourists alike.

shell

Photo courtesy of flickr.com

Gasparilla International Film Festival: Year Of The Director

 

Gasparilla festivities come to an end with a grand finale. The Gasparilla International Film Festival (GIFF) makes its annual debut Wednesday. The event offers much more than buttery popcorn and comedic relief. As the festival grows in attendance each year, so does the experience it provides.

“We like to make it very interactive,” GIFF marketing coordinator, Michelle Canas said. “It’s not just your average ‘let’s go to the movie and catch a film’. It’s definitely a lot more than that.”

In addition to the 115 film screenings, GIFF has celebratory opening and closing night events. Local clubs host after parties for each night in between. Informative discussion panels offer advice and insight into the movie-making industry. The festival also includes a Family Fun Day held outdoors at the Centennial Park.

The cinematography community in Tampa Bay united to establish the Tampa Film Institute in 2006. A year later, the Gasparilla International Film Festival made its first appearance. Now, as they celebrate 10 years of film, GIFF has gifted this year’s theme as the Year of the Director.

Compared with previous years, dozens of directors are set to be attendance. After the credits roll, moviegoers have the unique opportunity to partake in a Q&A with the film’s director.

“To have a director there opens up a conversation that educates the audience more to film, to the film-making process and brings them closer to film and closer to appreciating and loving films, which is a great thing,” Ron Chapman, director of Forbidden Shore, said.

Film screenings range from $12 to $15 per film and the price includes a director Q&A if it is held after. Industry panels and family fun day are free and open to the public.

Gamer’s Arcade Dreams Come True

Replay Amusement Museum is one of the places in Tarpon Springs where people come to revisit the glory days of old arcade and pinball games. A year and a half ago the museum was put together by Brian Cheney, a collector of classic arcade games, since he ran out of space to keep those games he created the museum to share with the public and continue to collect more.

Skyler Johnson, the manager of the museum, worked along with Cheney.

“This museum is dedicated to promoting the culture, historical significance and artwork of vintage arcade and pinball machines,” Johnson said. “There’s so much artwork, creativity and music involved in these machines that we want to be able to share them and there’s not many places where you can experience these machines that were originally out in public locations for people to play.”

Modern gaming is a lot more story driven and free roaming, but classic arcade games are more challenging and requires learning how many of them work and a lot of practice.

“For example, you can play an arcade game and a lot of people continue all the way through it but maybe the goal is to beat the game in one credit without continuing, ever,” Johnson said.

The Replay Amusement Museum is open Thursday and Sunday through 11 a.m. through seven p.m. and Fridays and Saturdays are 11 a.m. through 11 p.m. It is a great place for people of all ages to enjoy and recapture their gaming experiences.

My Daughter’s Keeper Of Tampa Bay

Donna Welch has made it her mission to educate young girls about their worth and their choices.

“We have learned that girls can have so many challenges in their life,” Welch said. “So having a program where they can come—it’s a platform open to the young ladies to discuss all the issues that relate to them…we cover it all.”

Welch established My Daughter’s Keeper of Tampa Bay, Inc. (MDK) in 2007. The St. Petersburg mentoring program aims to encourage and empower young women ages 10 to 18. The girls meet weekly to discuss anything from school to relationships to aspirations. The program also organizes workshops for the girls on etiquette, personal development, and any other needs the girls may have.

“I think that a lot of what is being talked about now is self-esteem issues and being confident in who you are and in your own skin,” mentor NaKeena Cromartie said.

There are currently 25 to 30 girls enrolled in the program. When Welch is not working with them, she is touring the Bay area, giving speeches and offering her services. Welch has an open door policy and loves when previous mentees like Cromartie come back to help out with the program.

“That’s the rewarding part,” Welch said, “to be able to see the young ladies that go off to school, or you know the military or whatever they choose to do in life, but they don’t forget the program that helped them get there.”

“I’ve known Ms. Donna for a very long time,” Cromartie said. “And she’s not only been and instructor from the MDK perspective…but also like a godmother to me.”

Welch hopes to continue to influence young girls by expanding her program to Tampa.

A dedication to competition

More than 30,000 participants gathered in downtown Tampa last weekend for the 2016 Gasparilla Distance Classic. Leading the pack was Joey Gibbs, a young athlete who has overcome paralysis to keep racing.

Gibbs was one of four racers in the 15K wheelchair division. These athletes started the races just five minutes before the running participants.

“Oh, yeah, he’ll typically outrun everybody at an event like this,” said Matt Gibbs, Joey’s father, when asked about Gibbs’ exceptionally fast pace compared to the running participants.

This claim was proven when Gibbs crossed the finish line minutes before anyone else in the race with a time of 34:57.

Gibbs was paralyzed in a motocross accident when he was 11-years-old. After losing the use of his legs, he pursued racing in other ways like cart and RC-car racing.

“I always had that mentality, that drive or that determination and it just stuck with me,” said Gibbs.

Gibbs embraced wheelchair racing when he joined the track team during his sophomore year at Vanguard High School in Ocala, Florida.

Since then, Gibbs has competed at an elite level all over the country; earning 48 medals over his career, including six state and seven national championship titles. Gibbs simply wouldn’t let his condition stop him.

His current goal is to compete in the 2020 Paralympics in Japan.

USF’s annual career fair looks to bring career opportunities for students

Nearly 3,000 USF students flocked to the Marshall Student Center Ballroom last week for the annual USF Career Fair.

Students from all different majors were able to speak with hundreds of employers across the four different fairs held throughout the week. They were able to discuss future internship and employment opportunities in their chosen career fields.

“I’m excited about Career Fair because it’s a great opportunity to make connections and kind of get my foot in the door at the start of my career,” USF accounting major, Mitchel Geron, said.

The fair has been held twice a year, one in each fall and spring semester, for over 20 years on USF campus. This fair has given many students the platforms they need to learn the opportunities they have with the degree they will earn.

“Many of these interactions will lead to full-time job interviews, internship interviews, and summer employment opportunities,” Assistant Vice President of USF Career Services, Russ Coughenour, said.

USF Career Services will return with another career fair in the fall of 2016 with more employers and opportunities for students to network with major organizations.

Coughenour finished by stating, “These fairs get USF students the valuable out of classroom experience that they so desperately need so each year Career Services is very proud to bring Career Week to USF students.”

Energy fund looks to use oil waste as fuel

In 2011, the University of South Florida Tampa campus launched the Student Green Energy Fund (SGEF) in order to help make the campus more energy efficient and environmentally friendly.

In its few years at USF, the SGEF has already set up various projects throughout the university such as electric vehicle stations and a campus bike-share project. This year, SGEF plans on creating a bio-diesel fuel in order to replace fossil fuel as an energy source for vehicles on campus.

“It would be used for the Bull Runner buses that travel around the campus,” SGEF Chair, Harold Bower, said. “The goal of the bio-diesel project is to take waste oil from cooking function on campus and process it so it can be burned in the bull runner vehicles as fuel.”

The SGEF plans for the bio-diesel to be made from oil waste collected from campus eating facilities in order to be reused.

“The bio-diesel project I think, in my opinion, one of the best projects you can think of, because we are really being able to mitigate the carbon footprint that we create as a school,” SGEF Inspector, John Pilz, said. “We are able to utilize wastes that would just be going to the trash can.”

The bio-diesel project was awarded $100,000 in funding and is currently in the final stages of its research before implementing the new fuel. If the research shows great results, then students and faculty can expect to be riding bio-diesel buses as early as next fall.

 

Author James Morrow gives lecture at USF

On Monday, March 21, 2016 renowned science fiction author, James Morrow, will be visiting USF to discuss his new novel, “Galapagos Regained”.

Morrow will be giving a lecture on the fourth floor of USF’s library at 6:00 p.m. where he will discuss issues of science, religion, and pop culture. Joining Morrow will be fellow science fiction author and USF professor, Rick Wilbur.

“I’ve been in the science fiction community for a long time,” said Wilbur. “Getting Morrow to do this lecture was as easy as some scheduling and making phone calls to a comrade.”

After a small amount of aligning schedules between Wilbur, the university, and Morrow, the author is set to discuss his latest novel as a part of USF’s humanities institute’s lecture series.

“I urge all students who can make it to attend Morrow’s lecture,” said Wilbur. “He’s an incredible author and this is a great opportunity to discuss contemporary issues with a knowledgeable professional.”

Morrow, a self-proclaimed scientific humanist, is an author famous for his unconventional historical novels, which often examine the intertwining concepts of religion and science. His latest novel, “Galapagos Regained” plot centers on a Victorian adventurer who decides to repeat the voyages of Charles Darwin.

Anyone, whether a student, faculty or community member, will be able to attend both Morrow’s lecture and the event’s reception and book signing free of cost.

USF alumni eats like a caveman

 A young entrepreneur has taken her passion for eating healthy and combined it with her passion for cookies to create her own company Base Culture. This company is not like any other sweets retailer that sales brownies and banana bread; all of the products are paleo friendly, meaning they follow the popular Paleo Diet.

“The Paleo Diet is nicknamed the caveman diet for a reason” says Base Culture founder Jordann Windschauer, “If you were to follow the Paleo Diet, you eat meat, vegetables, seeds, nuts, and fruit.” Windschauer praises the diet and even goes on to say that she felt “more alive than ever and had more energy than she had had in years.”

While the Paleo Diet did have its ups it also had its downs. Windschauer enjoyed the new found energy boost, but she also missed all the sweets she used to eat.

“You know it got really hard not being able to just grab banana bread on the way to work in the morning. I looked for products that could satisfy my sweet tooth but would also satisfy paleo requirements but there were none” said Windschauer. It was that same day she took matters into her own hand and stated creating “sweets” that were made solely from seeds, nuts, and fruits.

She then took her paleo friendly sweets she baked to her local gym to share with her friends and they became an instant hit. People soon began offering compensation for her products, and overnight the company Base Culture was created.

Many customers have claimed to not even taste the difference between paleo friendly brownies and regular brownies. “I just tasted it and it’s actually really good and it’s awesome that it’s really healthy” said satisfied customer Lexi Ashby.

The idea of paleo friendly products has taken the market by force. Since the company’s beginning in 2013, Base Culture products are now available in over 50 stores nationwide and will soon be available in Walmart.

 

 

 

 

Students take a global approach to learning

TAMPA- Every year USF is improving and becoming a well-known institution are the world. The University has always stated that it is a global campus with a strong education system. Now the university is pushing for its students to become more global citizens.

The Global Citizens Project was developed in 2013 and was fully implemented in the fall of 2015. Its main goal is to make sure it’s students are not only well educated but also global citizens.

The director of the Global Citizens Project is Karla l. Davis-Salazar. She has been leading the project since it was first created. For those who are skeptical of the new project and how it’ll affect the classes, Davis-Salazar says there isn’t anything to fear. “It’ll be the same like any other class expect it’ll have a strong global emphasis”, she says.

The program is also trying to encourage students to participate in global experiences. In order to do this it has created an awards system called the Global Citizens Awards.

There are currently only four USF professors who have made the switch and got their courses globally certified. However, out of these four there are some who have already begun to see positive results.

Sara Dykins Callahan, PhD said, “I would say that one of the significant changes that I’ve seen in practice in my classroom is that I feel less rushed to make it through material. And students have more of an opportunity to engage deeply in the content that we do cover.”