Spielberg directed one. So did Stanley Kubrick, Quentin Tarantino, and Kevin Smith. Short films can make a wonderful launch pad for moviemakers who aspire to see their stories splashed across the silver screen. Thanks to the Miami Short Film Festival, local cineastes have an opportunity to enjoy unique, short independent movies. For the past four years, local filmmaker William Vela has been the festival's tireless organizer. It all began when he decided to organize an intimate screening for a project he made with local actors. A fellow director called him and asked to screen his independent short as well. Then another called, and another. "I ended up screening seven movies that night. I was expecting maybe 60 people. 380 showed up. So I realized, you know what, I think there's a need for this here," says Vela.
The festival has grown from meager local roots into an international celebration of the concise form. "This year we're showing movies from South America, Europe, and the Middle East. I've seen every single one of the 264 films up for screening," the proud organizer boasts. Vela is especially jazzed about many of the foreign offerings. "There's a very good film from Israel, The Red Toy, which I am excited to screen. There's excellent animation, and a film from Spain, Nuestro Ranchito. People are going to love it," he gushes. Vela is also amped about Miami-made movies: "We have fifteen to twenty movies from Miami alone. The quality is definitely improving." Fans of local productions can look forward to Alex Ferrari's Broken, Jorge Valdes-Iga's Harmony, and She Kills He, from rising independent filmmaker Dave Rodriguez.
While still creating the best local festival possible, Vela aspires to take local short films outside the city: "I want to go to New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Europe to show them what Miami is all about." The Miami Short Film Festival begins this evening at 5:00 at the Tower Theatre, 1508 SW Eighth St., Miami. Screenings will continue daily until Saturday, October 29. Tickets cost eight dollars. Call 305-854-2229, or visit www.miamishortfilmfestival.com. Patrice Elizabeth Grell Yursik
Tab Hunter was a product of the studio system, a sun-kissed blond Warner Bros. boy. In films such as Ride the Wild Surf, Damn Yankees, and That Kind of Woman, he was the safe dreamboat for whom teenage girls could yearn. Now that the golden boy is 74 years old, he is destroying the Hollywood myth with a candid biography, Tab Hunter Confidential. "I only wrote it because I heard someone was writing an unauthorized book on me. I figured, get it from the horse's mouth, not from some horse's ass after I'm dead and gone," Hunter explains. Although most of the attention he has received dwells on his secret romances with Anthony Perkins and Rudolf Nureyev, Tab Hunter Confidential is about much more than that. "Some of this was very difficult to write," says Hunter, referring to the last years with his mother and the tragic death of his brother in Vietnam. "But it's certainly been character-building," he laughs. Meet Tab Hunter tonight at 8:00 at Books & Books, 9700 Collins Ave., Bal Harbour. Admission is free. Call 305-864-4241, or visit www.booksandbooks.com. Patrice Elizabeth Grell Yursik
Hanan Arts is making moves and starting grooves
We find ourselves drooling when the culturati devise sensory-tingling blowouts for a grand cause. The Hanan Arts Cooperative has organized the savory Bizarre Bazaar to raise funds for inner-city arts programs and other uplifting initiatives with which the eclectic group is involved.
During the past several years, the organization, founded by Middle Eastern dance artist Tiffany "Hanan" Madera, has worked with at-risk youth, battered women, and marginalized communities, using the arts to empower lives.
Tonight from 8:00 to midnight at the Miami Beach Botanical Gardens (2100 Convention Center Dr., Miami Beach), the nonprofit group celebrates its mission with hip-swaying pizzazz, funkalicious grooves, a lip-smacking feast, and enough art to choke the greediest collector. Those who pony up a buck at a "Feminist Kissing Booth," located inside a Hummer, can plant their smackers on the guy or gal of their choice. "Of course, for two dollars you can get a crack at both," promises organizer Helen Clarke. Yowza, we're there! Tickets cost $30. Call 786-399-9253. Carlos Suarez De Jesus
That Bitch Is Wack
Wednesday is usually a nothing night, even the week before Halloween, but The Trail Theatre (3713 SW Eighth St., Coral Gables) is providing a reason to get off your couch: a revival of 1973's The Exorcist, and it won't cost you a dime. The Exorcism of Emily Rose can't hold a candle to Regan MacNeil and Father Damien, with The Exorcist's classic crucifix scene, the spewing of green pea soup, and enough schlock to earn it major cult status. The Art Deco theater's history of live shows and films makes it the perfect venue. You can even score free popcorn if you show up in costume to add to the ambiance. This performance of The Exorcist will be heavy on audience participation, à la The Rocky Horror Picture Show, so feel free to don your finest cassock and clutch a giant crucifix while you curse back at the screen during the cheesy dialogue. This is one night you won't get shushed. The show begins at 8:00. Admission is free. Call 305-448-0592. Karen Dale Wolman
Note: Owing to Hurricane Wilma, many of this weekend's events have been postponed or canceled. Please call ahead to confirm.