By SHANNON BREEN
© St. Petersburg Times, published March 8, 2001
TAMPA -- Leora Chai remembers watching grown-up movies like The Champ and Star Wars at age 4, while her little pals were entranced by Big Bird.
Now 24, she's doing her bit to give undiscovered filmmakers the chance to shine in the spotlight -- or dodge oncoming tomatoes -- with a local film festival she has helped to create.
With assistant director David Barbeto's technical expertise and her mother Alice's bookkeeping skills, Chai has been the backbone in organizing the Tambay Film & Video Festival.
Beginning this morning, the four-day event at the historic Tampa Theatre will showcase 46 films.
Chai's goal? "I want to establish our hometown and bring out more support for Florida projects."
On the schedule are short and feature documentaries, student films, feature films, short films and animation.
Peter Foldy's feature film Silver Man, starring Paul Popowich, Joe Pantoliano, Louise Fletcher (Nurse Ratched in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest), Eugene Levy (American Pie), and that other Baldwin brother, Daniel, is scheduled for a Saturday night showing.
Legacy, a film about an African-American family struggling to overcome poverty and community violence, which received an Oscar nod for best documentary feature, can be seen Saturday at 12:30 p.m. Chai wasn't sure if any of the films' stars would be showing up, but she said it was a possibility.
Judges, who are mostly local, will render their opinions at the awards gala at the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center on Sunday.
Tambay Film & Video Festival, today through Sunday at the Tampa Theatre, 711 Franklin St. Single regular admission is $5.50, VIP pass (10 programs) is $40, awards gala is $25. Discounts for students and seniors. More information at http://www.tambayfilmfest.com or call (813) 964-9781. Among the highlights:
TODAY: 12:30 p.m., Animal Shelter (documentary) and Into the Lighthouse (documentary feature); 3 p.m., East 182nd Street (doc. feat.); 5:30 p.m., Sunshine Hotel (doc. feat.); 8 p.m., Breathing Hard (feat.); 10:15 p.m., Object Lessons (doc.), Spare Some Change (doc. feat.).
FRIDAY: 12:30 p.m., Subterranean Passage (feat.), Poles Apart (doc. feat.); 3 p.m., Soul of an Empire (doc. feat.); 5:30 p.m., The Witness (doc. feat.); 8 p.m., The Girl's Room (feat.); 10:15 p.m., Charming Billy (feat.).
SATURDAY: 10 a.m., The Bags (feat.); 12:30 p.m., Legacy (doc. feat.); 3 p.m., In the Refrigerator (feat.) Old Man River (doc. feat.); 5:30 p.m., Milk Punch (feat.); 8 p.m., To Kill a Lawyer (feat.); 10:15 p.m., Silver Man (feat.).
SUNDAY: 9 a.m., A Refugee and Me (doc. feat.), In My Life (doc. feat.); 12:30 p.m., Fidel's Fight (doc. feat.); 2 p.m., Bring Him Home (feat.), Portraits of Chicago (doc. feat.); 4:20, seminar, "Got Film? Go Shoot." Speakers TBA.