Borscht is Dead: the short films, part 1

Courtesy Borscht Corporation

Borscht is Dead: Curated by Indie Ethos & Collab With Choose954 is on its way, and it’s time to reveal some of the line-up. Below you will find my thoughts of five of the 10 shorts produced and, in one cease, associated with Borscht Corporation that I’ve chosen to screen at the event, which will help raise funds for us to match our Knight Arts Challenge grant. These are some short films I consider as some of the greatest work the Miami-based movie production collective have ever produced. They are personal choices, but also the films have a value as creative, thought-provoking and entertaining art pieces. Details of the event can be found on our Facebook event page co-hosted by Choose954. Without further ado, find out what’s playing…

Yearbook (2014) by Bernardo Britto, 5:40 min.

A rumination on what is essential to a meaningful life wrapped in an animated sci-fi end-of-the-world scenario by writer-director Bernardo Britto. When the government pisses off a newly discovered race of aliens, the creatures jettison an unstoppable missile toward Earth. Due to the distance the rocket has to travel, it won’t hit the planet until 17 years. In that time, a portly every man is asked to collect the world’s history to preserve in a space station holding a select group of survivors. For his service, he will be one of the survivors. It’s a task he must keep secret so as not to invoke panic. Meanwhile, the man’s wife struggles to perfect a catfish dish that he can appreciate. With kinetic hand-drawn illustrations and the monotone rattle of the man’s concerned voice over, the short skims over familiar names in history while never forgetting context of one’s own lived experiences. It builds toward a finale that justifies sentiment and what it means to love someone above all else. Winner of the Jury Prize for Animation at Sundance 2014.

Suddenly We Jumped (2014) By Antonia Wright, 2:48 min.

Though not a Borscht production, Antonia Wright’s short, silent film screened at Borscht Diez earlier this year. I also consider it the number one, “greatest film shot in Miami.” As I wrote in the Miami New Times: “It’s a transcendental short of mesmerizing quality that takes one’s breath away. The artist’s nude body slowly emerges from pitch blackness toward the camera to shatter a pane of real glass … ‘I’m using my body as a weapon,’ the artist once told this writer.” As it loops in slow motion, one can’t help but consider the short’s original secondary title “Breaking the Glass Ceiling,” with its confrontational feminine energy virtually breaking through the screen in a sparkling display of power and strength. It also doubles as an out-of-the-box introduction to the short films of the evening.

Life and Freaky Times of Uncle Luke (2014) by Jillian Mayer and Lucas Leyva, 12:25 min.

It’s incredibly hard to pick just one short film to represent the collaborative work of Lucas Leyva and Jillian Mayer. I went with their most humorous. Based on Chris Marker’s “La Jette,” which in turn inspired 12 Monkeys, the filmmakers imagine a story that kicks off with a fictional traumatic scene Miami-born 2 Live Crew rapper Luther Campbell witnessed as a child, then goes through the highlights of 2 Lives Crew’s actual history and into a fantasia of Miami triumph and destruction that loops back to Uncle Luke’s childhood and how it connects with his future. Using archaic painted sets to capture action and imply scenes of violence, this remains the filmmakers’ most playful short.

Biscayne World (2016) by: Ahol Sniffs Glue, Michael Arcos and Marnie Ellen, 10:56 min.

When Miami artist Ahol Sniffs Glue was struck by a hit and run driver while on his Moped one rainy night on Miami’s Biscayne Boulevard, it forced him to change his commuting habit. He started taking the bus. Featuring footage Ahol shot on the Miami-Dade County’s Metro Bus system alongside animated stop motion characters he designed to represent the denizens of the route, the short hybrid documentary plays with the line between a caricature of the voiceless who have so much to say and their rich humanity that reflect who we all are. “Biscayne World” is humorous yet confrontational, not to mention humbling. It’s a wide-eyed gaze at something most people would rather not even recognize, much less consider. By doing so, we are forced to consider our own sympathy for our fellow man.

Chlorophyl – Extended Cut (2011) by Barry Jenkins, 17:23 minutes

The short film that was part of the saga of getting the Oscar-winning Moonlight made in Miami (Oscar preview: Borscht, Moonlight and ‘the power of Miami’s filmmaking community’). Oscar-winning co-writer and nominated director Barry Jenkins captures the private ruminations of a young woman shell-shocked from the sudden end of a relationship. The mundane never looked more beautiful. With natural grace and an incredible feel for light, Jenkins captures the beauty of Miami both day and night, as Ana (Ana Laura Trevino) considers plant symbiosis as metaphor for not just inevitable change but the space between the beauty of existence and the pain of irrelevance.

Hans Morgenstern

Borscht is Dead screens Oct. 19, 6 p.m. – 10:30 p.m., at Savor Cinema, 503 SE 6th St, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301. Tickets are $13 and $25. A silent art auction/reception begins at 6 p.m., featuring a DJ set by Poplife’s Aramis. The films start 7:30 p.m. with a Q&A with the filmmakers after. Get tickets by following this link. And if you can’t come, please donate to us: follow this link and hit the “DONATE” button via PayPal. We thank you so much for your support.

(Copyright 2017 by Independent Ethos. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.)


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