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!
ANR’s Brian Robertson looks more like a lacrosse player than an interpretive dancer, but dance interpretively he does in the band’s new video for “It’s Around You”, the first single off of the Miami duo’s recently re-released album, Stay Kids. (ANR originally dropped a 10-song version of the LP in March. The re-release is a “deluxe edition” with 14 songs. You can stream it in full after the jump.)
The video premiered Thursday on rollingstone.com, a deserved coup for a band that has been making really good music for a long time now. Created by artist Jillian Mayer and Borscht Film Festival director Lucas Leyva (who also directed ANR’s “Big Problem” video), the “It’s Around You” footage features Robertson doing his best Hurricane Irene impression, ANR singer-drummer Michael-John Hancock doing his best Bryan Norcross impression, and a host of Miami gals dancing like they damn well oughta when the big ‘cane comes a-barreling our way. Here’s Hancock’s explanation of the song in Rolling Stone:
“The idea of the song, and the chorus in particular, is to sonically and even lyrically connect with the traditional halftime modern R&B crowd, participation song style, but to have the actual concept of the song relating to evacuation procedures during a natural disaster. The chorus is telling people how to use their hands, feet, and voices to signal a helicopter from the roof of a house or building. What’s ‘around you’ in this case is water and debris.”
Bathed in blues and greens, the video plunges you simultaneously into the the murky world of imminent catastrophe and the comical, only-in-Miami universe of the Borscht Film Festival. Its three-and-a-half minutes are packed with memorable moments, with the three shift-clad dames dancing under the swingless swing set accounting for many of them. (2:42 is pure gold.)
ANR is currently in California on the second leg of a 21-date tour. With the wind of a Rolling Stone plug at their back, they may well show the West Coast what a hurricane feels like.
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.