Sun, Sand, ACTION! Sunscreen Film Festival in St. Pete

Wax on with Mr. Miyagi, witness the true-life cave rescue of the stranded Thai youth soccer team, and delight at local scenery as a Big City executive is stranded in the Sunshine State.

More Than Miyagi: The Pat Morita Story, The Cave, and Life’s Rewards are three of 160 film projects on the playbill at the upcoming 16th annual Sunscreen Film Festival in Downtown St. Petersburg.

The longest-running film festival in the Tampa Bay area at 16 years, it’s known worldwide for bringing filmmakers together.

“The festival has really put the St. Pete-Clearwater-Tampa area on the film world map -- and it’s amazing to see the positive effect it’s had on our community over the years,” says Tony Armer, St. Petersburg Clearwater film commissioner and Sunscreen Film Festival founder.

Festival events run from April 29-May 3, with workshops such as PRODUCING: Don’t Have $1 million? How to Make a Micro-Budget Feature and Have it Distributed and WRITING: Writing Action Scenes sandwiched between screenings. This year’s event showcases its films on AMC’s silver screen, complete with COVID protocols such as 50% capacity. No problem there -- more theaters are being utilized with more times available.

Armer describes the event as a ‘filmmaker’s festival’ and matches the quality of the workshops and featured film projects as comparable to any of those found at large festivals such as Sundance or Tribeca. There’s an inclusive feel to Sunscreen, he says, one that encourages filmmakers, attendees, writers, producers, and attendees to mingle -- albeit six feet apart. A vast majority of the honored projects this year have representatives attending the festival, including, notably, the filmmaker trekking from Thailand to celebrate and promote The Cave.

Executive Producer Brianne Zulauf set her sights on Sunscreen for the premiere of Life’s Rewards, a streaming series screening at the festival on the evening of May 1. Written to showcase memorable St. Petersburg and area locales, Life’s Rewards is the first scripted series designed to promote tourism. This is purposeful tourism storytelling, she says -- highlighting the sun-drenched Don CeSar, Tarpon Springs, and more. 

“Sunscreen seemed like the perfect place to premiere a series that is all about promoting the awesome experiences to be had here in Florida and St. Pete-Clearwater,” says Zulauf, who is director of film and video for Odyssey Studios, the studio at Miles Partnership.

“To have a local film festival that has a strong history of successful premieres … we knew this (Sunscreen) was the right forum for this first-of-its-kind series,” she says.

Tickets are available for single showings as well as entire days; the complete schedule can be on the Sunscreen Film Festival website.

Editor's note: 83 Degrees writer Amy Hammond plays the role of Wisconsin Mom in the streaming series Life’s Rewards.

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Read more articles by Amy Hammond.

Amy Hammond is a freelance writer and author of children’s books that encourage the next generation to attend college. When not indoctrinating youth about the necessity of higher education, she enjoys exploring the paradise that is her St. Petersburg home. She holds a degree in Public Relations from the University of Florida and a Masters in Secondary English Education from the University of South Florida. Her work has appeared in such venues as the Tampa Bay Times. Children’s Book Titles by Amy Hammond include: When I Grow Up, I’ll Be a Gator; When I Grow Up, I’ll Be a ‘Nole; When I Grow Up, I’ll Be a Bull; When I Grow Up, I’m Bama Bound; When I Grow Up, I’ll Be a Tiger.