Sixty years ago a rigid waltz was considered proper on the dance floor; any sort of dancing that involved moving hips was frowned upon. Or so claims Twist, producer/director Ron Mann's informative and often amusing documentary that combines archival footage with interviews to chronicle the evolution of rock and roll dance from the American Bandstand dancers to Chubby Checker to the Parkettes.
Twist is just one of a dozen eclectic films slated to screen during the first annual Rewind/Fast Forward Film and Video Festival at the Colony Theater this weekend. While the subject matter runs the gamut from a recently restored Honeymooners special produced in Miami Beach to a history of recreational marijuana use in the late Twentieth Century, the movies all share a Florida or an archival connection. Many of the works incorporate archival footage from the thousands of hours of video preserved in Miami's Louis Wolfson II Media History Center, explains the center's director Steve Davidson, organizer of the upcoming event. For instance 90 Miles, a documentary shot over five years by filmmaker Juan Carlos Zaldivar, who left Cuba in 1980 and was the only one in his family willing to return eighteen years later, features about twenty minutes of video from the Wolfson archives. The use of preserved film is particularly striking in the five shorts by San Francisco filmmaker Jay Rosenblatt that Davidson describes as the cornerstone of the weekend. The black-and-white works -- from one to thirty minutes long -- reveal seemingly mundane yet intriguing images that range from educational movies, Hollywood clips, and historical footage.
Davidson says he hopes the screenings will give viewers a sense of the breadth of possibilities archival material offers. "This is not your father's documentary," he jokes. "It's a real interesting mix." Additionally Davidson notes the festival's aim is to provide a unique historical perspective on South Florida. Saturday, July 28, marks the 105th anniversary of the incorporation of the City of Miami, so a Miami-themed component is included. The Wolfson Center's Magical History Bus/Video Tour will transport curious passengers down Ocean Drive while video monitors on the bus broadcast scenes of what the route looked like decades ago. Tourists will be surprised to find that today's highly developed pedestrian strip once was swampland, Davidson notes: "You'll see some things that have been destroyed and now exist only on film."
Incorporated after the invention of basic filming techniques, Miami is a unique city for the film archivist. "The entire contemporary history of this city is documented," Davidson says, adding that not only will the festival -- boasting titles such as South of Brooklyn and Last Night in Cuba -- appeal to the film buff but also to the amateur Miami historian. "These are things people wouldn't necessarily have a chance to see," he reveals. "As a whole they all just seem to flow together."