A week before the 2018 Third Horizon Film Festival opened, co-founder Jason Fitzroy Jeffers was at ArtCenter/South Florida working on something equally pressing. He’d just been appointed ArtCenter’s Cinematic Arts manager, and he was watching submissions for a new microbudget film grant roll in for a deadline that was just two hours away.
At any one moment, Jeffers has his hands in multiple projects and shows up regularly as the front man for some of Miami’s most culturally innovative events. But the Third Horizon Film Festival is where he channels one of his most passionate interests: the Caribbean.
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This year is the third annual Third Horizon Film Festival, which runs through Sunday at O Cinema Wynwood.
Third Horizon typically includes both short and full-length narrative films from the Caribbean and its diaspora, centered on fictional stories and characters. This year, though, the programming team noticed that many of the best films coming out of the Caribbean were documentaries.
“We leaned into that,” says Jeffers. It was a clear reflection of the current state of affairs around the world, and led the team to build a program heavily weighted towards documentary films.
“The historical moment we are living in right now is so fractured, so turbulent. There are so many issues around immigration and identity, climate change. ... We’re really in a defining moment in the history of our species, really. I think it’s nothing less than that.”
The Third Horizon Film Festival serves, at its core, as a platform for the Caribbean perspective on these kinds of challenges. There (and including Miami, which Jeffers argues is Caribbean), the struggle for solutions has long been in progress.
A few relevant themes run through this year’s festival: sovereignty, intersectionality, identity and diversity.
Jeffers says a film from Saturday’s program is particularly timely: “1950: The Nationalist Uprising” by Puerto Rican director José Manuel Dávila Marichal. Coming out a year after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, this film documents 10 days in 1950 when the Nationalist movement attempted to overthrow U.S. rule in a fight for Puerto Rican sovereignty.
“The people of the Caribbean are people who have created new cultures, a new life, and new nations out of the ashes of empire,” says Jeffers. “So often colonialism or the colonial mind-set, or the ravages of colonialism, are spoken about as something that happened in the past. But what you see in Puerto Rico right now, after the hurricane and even before that … you see people and a place wrestling with the concept of sovereignty.”
“What does it mean to be truly free?” he asks. “Who gets to determine the destiny of your own life and the life of your countrymen and women?”
Expect a selection of critically acclaimed films with both personal and political resonance rooted in the Caribbean.
Other events include: “Azougue Nazaré,” a film about a married Brazilian man who “flamboyantly disappears into a transgender alter ego every year” for Carnival,” according to the program; “Sprinter,” a film about a Jamaican runner who hopes to enter the United States to join his mother; and “Rodell Warner: You’ll See,” a visual arts exhibit presenting works by artist Rodell Warner.
Jeffers says he most appreciates the conversations generated by the films, but not without a dose of a good time. “It’s a heady four days. We deal with these really heady ideas and concepts and conversations. But then we party like hell too. We sweat and we dance and we drink and we lift our spirits.”
If you go
- What: Third Horizon Film Festival
- When: Through Sunday
- Where: O Cinema Wynwood, 90 NW 29th St., Miami
- Info: For tickets and times, visit thirdhorizonfilmfestival.com