When David Audet was conceptualizing an artistic event to showcase the distinct flavor of the culturally rich Ybor City, the community surrounding Hillsborough Community College’s Ybor City campus inspired him. As HCC’s special project manager, Audet wanted to do something other than a typical film festival. His vision is on a much grander scale, encompassing a wide range of art forms throughout the world.
In accordance with his plans to include alternative forms of art media, he named the event Ybor Festival of the Moving Image, and he is now preparing for his fifth go-round as head of the festival, which begins tomorrow and runs through Sunday.
Initially, Audet had no intention of organizing a film festival at HCC. However, in 2003, Lois Gaston, the college’s president, approached him about setting one up. Audet adamantly refused, convinced that his vision would not mesh with that of HCC. Regardless, Gaston commissioned Audet to pitch his ideas on a proposed festival.
“This college has a music department, dance department, visual arts and theater,” said Audet, who received a film degree from USF in 1979. “All (a work) has to have is some little hint of projection or some kind of reference to cinema or movies, and it’s part of the festival.”
As a result, the schedule features an amalgam of artwork from various media and includes artist submissions and commissioned works. Among the events set for the festival are F***: A Documentary, a 1928 silent film written by Salvador Dali and seven or eight original pieces that directly relate to the culture of Ybor City.
In fact, because part of the festival’s goal is to spotlight the historical significance of the community, every event of the festival is held at venues that are integral to Ybor’s Hispanic heritage, including The Cuban Club, El Pasaje Arcade, the Marti-Maceo Social Club and the Silver Meteor Gallery. According to Audet, the architecture of Ybor was something he wanted to share with attendees, and the avant-garde nature of many of his participants seemed a logical fit for such a distinct community.
“I know a lot of filmmakers who don’t like to show movies in theaters,” he said. “They like to show them on the sides of buildings, in alleys, in a basement … anywhere but in a theater with all the chairs facing in one direction against the wall.”
Considered a National Historic Landmark District, Audet believes Ybor City’s connection with the Bay area, along with its Cuban influence, will foster the burgeoning film community in Tampa. “There’s going to be a huge population explosion when our relationship with Cuba improves,” he said. “Cuba has a very interesting art and culture and a lot of filmmakers.”
With films and other events from nations as diverse as Belgium, Canada, Cuba, Italy, Spain and Turkey included in its lineup, the Ybor Festival of the Moving Image has become a heralded cultural event for Bay area residents, and much of the credit goes to Audet’s efforts to center the festival on the cultural relevance of Ybor City, thus bringing to light aspects of Ybor that might otherwise go unnoticed.
The Fifth Annual Ybor Festival of the Moving Image is open to the public and runs from April 19-22 in various venues throughout Ybor City. All screenings are $5 per ticket, and special event tickets are $10 each. For more information, visit Yborfilmfestival.com.