Home Around Town Suncoast Credit Union Gasparilla International Film Festival World Premiere Film Acquired by HBO
Suncoast Credit Union Gasparilla International Film Festival World Premiere Film Acquired by HBO E-mail
Written by Al Frederick, Frederick Communications   

The Poet of Havana will premiere on HBO Latino and other HBO platforms on October 23rd, 2015 at 8PM EST/ 7PM CST Marks the first major film deal in GIFF’s short history

TAMPA, FL – October 6, 2015  - HBO announces the acquisition of the documentary The Poet of Havana which had its World Premiere screening at the 2015 Suncoast Credit Union Gasparilla International Film Festival (GIFF).  HBO VP of Film Acquisitions and Tampa native, Leslie Verkauf Cohen is a longtime Advisory Board member and supporter of GIFF, and it was during GIFF that Ms. Cohen first saw The Poet of Havana. 

According to Ms. Cohen, she “discovered [her] love of film [in Tampa].”   “I'm always excited to return to GIFF to support the film industry in Tampa and see how the festival has grown. This year, the Festival was even more meaningful since I saw the film, The Poet of Havana, met filmmaker Ron Chapman and started to explore possibilities for HBO Latino,” said Ms. Cohen.

The Poet of Havana pulls back the curtain on internationally renowned Cuban singer, songwriter, and lyricist Carlos Varela as he celebrates his 30th anniversary as an artist.  Filmed in Havana, this moving documentary reveals how Varela was influenced by his country, politics and people, and how he has influenced them in return through his music.  The film premiered at GIFF to a sold out crowd and was followed by an intimate acoustic performance by its star, Carlos Varela.

Filmmaker Ron Chapman credits GIFF for the HBO deal.  “Through the GIFF publicity team’s local marketing efforts, we were able to get me some great advance press… Leslie Cohen attended THE POET OF HAVANA World Premiere screening (at GIFF), which led to my relationship with HBO Latino, and the Oct 23rd HBO Premiere on their network. GIFF and their entire team deserve so much credit and thanks for the great work they do; not only introducing new films to interested audiences, but also new films to broadcasters.”

This acquisition by HBO marks the first major film deal directly attributed to GIFF in its short festival history.  GIFF will celebrate its 10 year anniversary  from March 30th- April 3rd, 2016.  Film submissions for the 2016 festival are now being accepted online at www.GasparillaFilmFestival.com.  

In addition to The Poet of Havana, other GIFF 2015 premiere films have received distribution,  including:
-    The Break In (GIFF USA Premiere) received US & Canada distribution through Mouse Trap on VOD and international distribution through Swedish Cinema
-    Oloibiri (GIFF World Premiere) won Best Drama in the “African Oscars” – Nollywood and African Film Critics Award
-    The Challenger (GIFF World Premiere) limited theatre release and VOD release



About The Gasparilla International Film Festival (GIFF)
First launched in the summer of 2006, the Gasparilla International Film Festival (GIFF) has grown into an entertaining and educational year-round entity in Tampa Bay. Well-known for its annual film festival, GIFF is operated by the 501(c)(3) non-profit Tampa Film Institute and continually upholds its mission to provide yearlong support for film screening, production, and education throughout Tampa Bay and the region. For more information on GIFF including sponsor and volunteer opportunities, visit: www.gasparillafilmfestival.com.


About HBO
HBO Latino is a dedicated Spanish-language premium channel that delivers compelling and relevant programming to the U.S. Latino market.  Exclusive to the channel are the regular U.S. premieres of Spanish-language series, films, and documentaries acquired from North America, Latin America, Spain and Caribbean, as well as original short-form programming.  Additionally, HBO Latino offers the best Hollywood movies and HBO original programming from the network's main channel in Spanish. HBO Latino is included free with an HBO subscription. HBO Latino content can also be accessed on HBO On Demand®, HBO GO® and HBO NOWSM.