Films on the edge
Despite their relatively young age (most are in their 20s), members of the Borscht Corp. radiate a professionalism and confidence that belies their experience. And their films are getting better slicker, more polished, better-acted and wilder.
Among the titles in this years lineup:
Haunt Ed, the latest from the Play Dead brothers, a funny/scary tale about a guy home alone who gets drunk and then walks into a haunted house.
#PostModem, the latest collaboration between Leyva and Jillian Mayer, (the duo that was named one of 25 New Faces to watch by Filmmaker magazine this year). They describe as a comedic satirical sci-fi musical based on the theories of Ray Kurzwell and other futurists, told through a series of cinematic tweets.
Waiting for Berta, a story about an old woman in Little Havana who randomly runs into a former enemy from Castros revolution.
Miami 1996, a found footage-style tale of a booty party that goes horribly, gruesomely wrong.
Crackhead Katana, about a homeless drug addict who finds a sword and sets out on a mission to degentrify the Wynwood Art District.
Some of the movies were selected from the 115 submissions sent in by aspiring local filmmakers. Others were commissioned specifically for out-of-town filmmakers to shoot in Miami, such as The Voice Thief, the story of an opera singer (Asia Argento, daughter of Dario) who has her voice stolen, directed by Adan Jodorowsky (son of Alejandro).
There are more and more people in Miami who are getting into film, Leyva says. There is a growing number of pockets of filmmakers around the city doing their own thing. We look for stories that havent been told before that could only be told here. There are a lot of aspiring filmmakers who make indie films that could be set anywhere else. When I was growing up, if you heard a movie came from Miami, you figured it was going to suck. Now, with Borscht and all these other groups, and with all the independent cinemas that have popped up around town, were hoping the next generation of filmmakers will think of Miami differently and want to stay here to tell stories.
Each Borscht Film Festival is centered on a loose theme. Last year it was music. This year Leyva opted for a regional summit type of event. After traveling to Sundance and South by Southwest earlier this year with The Life and Freaky Times of Uncle Luke, a Borscht production that garnered national attention, he discovered there were lots of other film collectives making movies specific to their home turf.
I started meeting people who were doing the same thing we were doing, he says. But at film festivals, you meet people but dont really have the time to sit down and talk. So we decided to invite members from several collectives around the country to come to Miami, discuss their work and exchange ideas. Its an experiment. I dont know whats going to come of it. But I liked the idea of getting people from other regional film festivals together and placing Miami at the center of the conversation.
Film collectives have garnered a lot of attention since the New Orleans-based Court 13 sold its feature-length movie Beasts of the Southern Wild to Fox Searchlight Pictures for national distribution, despite having no professional actors and a low budget.