The Gasparilla Film Festival was a memorable experience for all who attended, consisting of raucous parties, sold-out screenings, dozens of premieres and a packed house for closing night ceremonies, where one of the most noteworthy events was when blind director, Joseph M. Monks, was recognized with the 2011 Achievement in Cinema award. Monks is the world’s first blind feature film director and received the award for his debut feature, “The Bunker.” After being presented with the award by St. Petersburg Times entertainment writer Steve Persall, Monks gave an acceptance speech that encouraged those facing challenges-beyond just filmmakers–not to let their hardships prevent them from attaining their goals. “The most important thing is, don’t give
up,” says Monks. “Things can be hard. You’re going to fall down. The key is not to stay down. Get up, and keep getting up. Eventually, you’re going to get there. It isn’t impossible. Nothing is.” Monks’ acceptance speech can be viewed by visiting:
The filmmaker, who lost his eyesight in 2002 as a result of diabetic retinopathy, also gave a talk at the festival explaining his directing process, and the techniques he developed in order to bring his film to life.
Monks currently has two projects in development, features being shepherded by Commodity Films.
Monks’ full-length feature “The Bunker” will debut in festivals worldwide in 2011. For more information about “The Bunker” screenings or how you can help the Joe Monks’ festival tour, please call Tracie Donahue: 916-712-2781.