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Tambay brings out fresh indie filmmakers

Friends have seen their work, families humor them and they are all after success on a bigger scale. The fourth annual Tambay Film and Video Festival — held at Channelside Cinemas this weekend — features a wide range of independent filmmakers who are hoping for that increased exposure.

The varied entrants include more than 60 directors handling approximately 80 projects. Several thousand people are expected to view those submissions, which include juried competitors in the student film, documentary, feature film, short subject and animation categories.

Buddies and brothers may humor and compliment the makers of those projects, but Tambay’s screening committee measures the qualifications of each film. The Festival’s director, an associate director and Advisory Board members narrow down the recommendations of the screening committee and have the ultimate say as to whose work is screened at the Festival.

If the process seems heady and provocative, Festival director Leora Chai confirms that impression.

“This is a project that gets more hectic as it gets closer to the festival,” she said, “With a half-year to go, it gets crazy. It heats up.”

Although some filmmakers return to the festival year after year, the festival directors encourage turnover in order to allow fresh works to be showcased.

Several of the documentaries previously screened at the Tambay Festival have been shown on HBO, and two of the past student film competition winners have signed a three-picture deal with Dimension Studios and won top honors at the Chrysler Million Dollar Film Festival, respectively. Usually, filmmakers seek out festivals because they are outlets that offer a sort of starting gate for their ventures.

“They want to see crowd response to their art,” Chai said.

Distribution deals are sometimes signed as a result of that response, and directors cannot help but be nervous as a jury composed of individuals such as Tampa Tribune film critic Bob Ross and Tribune columnist Kevin Walker watch, consider and vote.

“Our focus is the juried competition,” Chai said.

Chai predicts that several screenings will sell out, which fits with the Film and Video Festival’s growth pattern.

Chai’s personal project is also being shown at the Festival, but it is not being judged.

“I am a fair person, and I know that that’s a conflict of interest,” she said.

Interest in the juried screenings has been so great that Chai’s non-competitive entry — the only one of its kind this year — may become a trend.

“In the future, we might have films just for screening,” Chai said.

Although that seems like a diversionary tactic, with an up-and-coming festival that is stocked with trailblazing filmmakers, an abundance of talent is par for the course.

The Tambay Film and Video Festival will boast more than 80 independent films. The event will take place on Friday and run through Sunday at Channelside Cinemas.