Sunday, November 29, 2009

Miami, Bro Loves Borscht

Under the indoor twinkling stars of the Gusman Center in Downtown Miami, the Borscht Film Festival managed to do the almost impossible. A full theater sat waiting over an hour to watch two and a half hours of homemade, independent films. Although the crowd was restless in waiting for the films to begin, they all managed to hang in there and suck down numerous $5 rum and Jupinas. In typical grassroots style, the projector at the Gusman wasn't working. As another projector was rushed downtown, musical acts and comedians, both from the audience and what appeared to be preplanned performances, entertained. Luckily, it sufficed for people like me, compulsively late and then inappropriately impatient, people who, surprisingly, arrived on time for the first times in their lives.

There were so many little things about this event that just radiated love for Miami. Although most of us grow up wishing we were somewhere else, we are still truly dedicated to this sometimes lame, mostly strange, very non-traditional American city. Our humor and perspective is so unique. Miamians are easily amused; we love to laugh. Each film made a nod to our hometown in a way we, the audience, could appreciate, and Miami, bro loved it.

The screening began with independently produced shorts chosen from community submissions. The video for Miami's own thoughtful but danceable group, Afrobeta's "Land of Lost Lovers," was sexy and cute. I thought the most notable of these films was Oda a la Pina, which takes place in Cuba, was in Spanish without subtitles and features a woman dressed as a pineapple. Even with the language barrier, it was a beautiful, poetic tale, conveyed visually with humor and compassion. Another well done short, Waking Olguita, takes place in Puerto Rico and features a slutty but nice exchange student who lightens up the life of her old lady, host mother.

Nothing pleased me more than the shot of the street on which I live in The Rise of Panic Bomber. This short fully grabbed the attention and laughter of the audience through humorous quips and shots of the downtown areas we live in and know so well. It was the creation of Andrew Hevia, who is one of the festival's main organizers and whom I've known since he was wee lad. I was also tickled when I saw one of my high school english teachers, Sandra (Doc) Riley in the slow but important documentary on the Miami Circle.

This year the Borscht received funding from the Miami World Cinema Center and the Downtown Development Authority to commission five feature films. I would say my favorites included Velvet, which, although it was shot in the Design District, could be shown anywhere and enjoyed by any audience. The biggest crowd pleaser and the feature that most closely reflected my experience of growing up, was an animated short, "Xemoland," which took place in Key Biscayne. I know must of us didn't grow up as Key rats, but the little details brought me back to my youth. For instance, the OP logo on the main character's shirt, the Goo poster on his brother's wall, the nuclear holocaust image from T2 and most importantly, Riviera Cinema. I worked at Riviera for 2 years in high school and I happened to be sitting next to one of my oldest friends who worked there with me, so, if you heard someone shout out for Rivera, that was me.

If you've grown up in Miami, part of you never leaves. Maybe you're always late, or you're a shitty driver, but you're probably also the best dancer at whatever white-bred party you're at, and definitely, you know how to have a good time and laugh even when a hurricane blows through town. The Borscht Film Festival highlighted all those regional quirks we hold dear and which sometimes hold us hostage. I hope they maintain all the community support for next year and at least double their funding. If you helped out with this event, Miami, bro wants to say to you, bravo and que bueno!

Here's my roomie, Jessica Gross, doing some off the cuff ass kicking comedy.
I didn't take many pics, but aren't Dylan and Kizzy's sweaters adorable? I barked at them to pose, hence Kizzy's face of horror.

These 2 are from the Oolite Visual Arts Showcase.


Abel said...

I was there, too, and I absolutely LOVED Xemoland and Velvet. I was, however, disappointed in the lack of a Hialeah piece, which is my neck of the woods. I have to say, I was really proud of the productions, and that horror-comedy one in Kendall was really amazingly well-made, too.

The weirdest part, though, was the guy passing out pre-show when the doors were still closed.

Jessica said...

Liz dear, you truly make me miss Miami. And yes, once you've crossed Miami-Dade city limits you quickly learn that Miamimians ARE the best dancers at any white-bred party.
Wish I could've experienced the spectacle!

krylonultraflat said...

You live with Jessica!?