With Lebron James, Dwyane Wade and the rest of your Miami Heat just starting their playoff run, the Borscht Film Festival this week released the full version of “Adventures of Christopher Bosh in the Multiverse,” which premiered at Borscht 8 back in December.
On Saturday, the Borscht Film Festival presented its eighth quasi-annual short film program to a crowd of hundreds at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts. While Borscht will continue to host events through this coming Friday, the Arsht Center screening was the festival’s main event, the culmination of months of work on mostly Miami-centric films, many of which Borscht commissioned and produced itself.
Fresh off of receiving a $500,000 vote of confidence from the Knight Foundation and landing two spots in the Sundance Film Festival’s 2013 Short Film Program, the Borscht Film Festival is getting ready to present its eighth edition of Miami-inspired independent cinema. (See ticket giveaway details at bottom of post.)
Here’s a pretty great music video for “Roaches”, a track off of the album Take Me To Your Leader by Miami-based hip-hop group ¡MAYDAY!. Produced by Borscht Film Festival director Lucas Leyva and directed by Julian Yuri Rodriguez, the video doubles as a portrait of a stylish, only-in-Miami character named Sylvester the Kat Man, whose moniker presumably alludes to his ability to scale walls, his way with women and fondness for actual cats, his appetite for fish, and God knows what else. FYI: If the splash image wasn’t warning enough, this video is NSFW!
It’s Friday the 13th and Borscht Corp, the team behind the Borscht Film Festival, is celebrating the demonic date by hosting a FREE midnight screening of the German horror film “The Burning Moon” at O Cinema. Directed by Olaf Ittenbach and banned in many countries after its 1997 release, “The Burning Moon” is infamous for the gruesome imagery of its two central stories, one featuring a blind date with a serial rapist/killer and the other stars a murderous holy man.
Congratulations to Miami’s Borscht Film Festival and media studio Rakontur for landing their short film, Life and Freaky Times of Uncle Luke, in the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. Written by Borscht’s “Minister of the Interior” Lucas Leyva and directed by artist Jillian Mayer, the film premiered back in April at Borscht 7, which drew a sell-out crowd to the Arsht Center.
A modern Miami adaptation of the 1962 French short film, La Jetee, Life and Freaky Times of Uncle Luke stars former 2 Live Crew frontman and recent Miami-Dade County mayoral candidate Luther Campbell. It recounts his actual rise to fame and experience winning an obscenity case against 2 Live Crew’s 1989 album, As Nasty As They Wanna Be, and then transitions to a fictional past in which Campbell becomes Miami’s savior and mayor. (In real life, Campbell lost his mayoral bid and then endorsed the eventual runner-up, Hialeah mayor Julio Robaina.)
On Saturday night, ≈2,000 people packed the Arsht Center’s Knight Concert Hall for the Borscht Film Festival (aka Borscht 7), three hours of for-Miami, by-Miami work commissioned by a group of brash cineastes who have assumed the lofty responsibility of forging Miami’s cinematic identity.
This was the festival’s seventh run, though only its second fully above ground. The last one, back in November 2009, drew 1,600 people to the Gusman Center to watch — possibly for the first time — Miami films not directed by Michael Bay or called Scarface. Which is what Borscht is all about: transcending, subverting, and, in some cases, warmly embracing the stereotypes that define Miami for millions of people in and outside of the city.
While the 2009 fest had its hiccups — the projector showing up two hours late, for example — it’d be hard to label it anything but a success. Besides the big crowd and the beautiful venue, several of its films eventually screened in the world’s most prestigious film festivals (Cannes, Sundance, Tribeca) and the Knight Foundation was impressed enough to give the Borscht crew, spearheaded by 24-year-old Lucas Leyva, 150,000 smackers for the next two years.
Thing is, I thought most of the films at the last Borscht were terrible, particularly the infantile Of Metrorails and Megasaurs, a tale of a little girl’s first visit to the Magic City that unironically depicted Miami like it was Magic Kingdom (there were animated dinosaurs). In fact, the only film I liked was Daniel Cardenas’s short animation “XEMOLAND”, which went on to screen at Sundance.
Still, I went into Borscht 7 with high hopes. With $150,000 to play around with and 18 months riding the learning curve, I had faith in the Dudes of Borscht to deliver on the hype, and in a lot of ways they did. First of all, they jammed the Arsht with the biggest young crowd I’ve ever seen at a homegrown Miami event. It was amazing to look around that grandiose space and see so many faces from the grimy clubs and dive bars around town. It felt, in a really empowering way, like the kids had taken over City Hall.
Ever hear the one about the insatiable rooster? On this week’s podcast you will. You’ll also hear why Robby thinks Passover, a week that commemorates the Hebrews’ exodus from Egypt and slavery under a cruel Pharaoh, is hilarious. Finally, we talk the Borscht Film Festival, which is on Saturday, April 23, at the Knight Concert Hall at the Arsht Center downtown.
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Listen to last week’s podcast, Sweating Sweatstock 2011
As if I weren’t already pumped for the Borscht Film Festival, I got a hell of a lot more so when I watched the trailer for Chlorophyl, a 25-minute film directed by Liberty City native Barry Jenkins and inspired by a song by local musician Mike Diaz aka MillionYoung.
The film is about “a young woman dealing with the emotional fallout of a failed relationship,” according to Borscht’s website — but that isn’t what got me going. Nor was it the fact that Jenkins has a really interesting backstory — as outlined in a recent New Times profile — or appears destined for a great career following the success of Medicine for Melancholy, which the New York Times ranked one of the best films of 2009.
All that’s well and good. But what really got me psyched to see Chlorophyl is a high-profile cameo at exactly 37 seconds into the trailer.