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Published: April 18, 2023

Film Major Recognized at Gasparilla Film Festival

When Ximena Salazar ’24 set out to make a short film based on her parents’ love story, she never imagined it would win a Gasparilla Film Festival honor. 

Film Major Recognized At Gasparilla Film FestivalXimena Salazar was awarded “Audience Best” for the “University of Tampa Short” category at the Gasparilla Film Festival. Photo Courtesy of Ximena Salazar

It was just a “story I always wanted to tell,” she said.

The film and media arts and psychology double major described “When We Met” as a romantic comedy where a girl meets a boy, and the feelings are not reciprocated, and one party has to navigate being only friends. 

The short film was produced as a part of Salazar’s narrative production class with Taylor Curry, assistant professor of film, animation and new media.  

Salazar, who is from Mexico City, said she adapted the story to Tampa. 

“The original story took place in Mexico City in the ’80s,” she said. “It was impossible for me to get locations here in Tampa that would resemble the original setting.”  

Instead, she opted to not set her screenplay in one specific place, which allowed her to use locations in Tampa more freely, she explained. 

The Gasparilla Film Festival offers a block dedicated solely to films by UT students. Eight films were chosen to be showcased at AMC Westshore, where the audience rated the films from one to four stars, Salazar said. At the closing ceremony, they announced the winners of each block, and Salazar received “Audience Best” for the “University of Tampa Short” category.

"Ximena set out to write something personal and meaningful from the start. It was so rewarding to watch her vision come to fruition,” Curry said. “She was fiercely professional and dedicated to telling a story that resonated with her — and evidently many others!"

Salazar said she was honored that her film was selected to be shown at the festival and that she didn’t know there were awards specifically for the UT entries. 

“I knew that I was going up against my talented classmates whose films are amazing, and I even got to work on some of those projects, so I had no idea there was a chance for my film to win,” she said. “It was exciting. I felt very proud.”  

The film will be available on Vimeo, but first, Salazar will try to enter it into the Sunscreen and the Sarasota Film festivals. 

Salazar is currently working on her senior thesis, which she described as a romantic drama. She plans to include influences from both of her majors, as well as her minor in dance.

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Taylor Raye Curry, assistant professor of film, animation and new media, filmed her latest short film “7½ Minutes” with the help of her students.
On Saturday, the University honored more than 1,900 graduates in morning and afternoon ceremonies at the Florida State Fairgrounds.
On Saturday, the University will honor more than 1,900 graduates in two separate ceremonies at the Florida State Fairgrounds.