Documentarians do the homework, make the connections, and capture those precious, fleeting moments so you can be whisked away to exotic locations or introduced to folks you would probably never approach on your own, without even leaving your seat. If just the word documentary makes you snore, you obviously havent seen Murderball, Spellbound, or Hands on a Hard Body, and you should add them to your Netflix list. As you wait for those DVDs to arrive, get some fresh air and watch a fine batch of films during the fourth annual Documentary Film Festival this weekend at the Plaza at Española Way, Miami Beach.
To quench your thirst for knowledge about our environment, this years theme, The State of Our Water, will take you down the Miami River, to the banks of the Salton Sea, and make you question why you paid two dollars for that bottle of water youre holding. Growing up in Miami, we felt inspired to address our relationship to water, but the challenge was finding pioneers in cinema that were making the films, says festival director and cofounder Rhonda Mitrani.
Before he began working on his film The Miami River, local filmmaker Trevor Green didnt know much about the history of the river that wends through our city. The average Miamian doesnt even know what Im talking about when I ask them about the Miami River, says Green. The ten minute film has you rolling down the river, listening to commentary by local historian Paul George, Miami River Commission director Bret Bibeau, and Donald C. Gaby, author of The Miami River and Its Tributaries.
If you have an affection for kooky locals, Plagues and Pleasures on the Salton Sea, directed by Chris Metzler and Jeff Springer and narrated by John Waters, will take you to a fish bone strewn Southern California beach that is home to nudists, Hungarian revolutionaries, and millions of dead tilapia. Few people are aware that this place is even in California, says Metzler. Created in 1905 as a result of an engineering error, the area was considered the California Riviera in the Fifties. Nowadays some locals view it as the greatest sewer the world has ever seen. It is difficult to believe this ecological disaster even exists. It looks like something out of a Salvador Dali painting, says Metzler of the abandoned resort area Sonny Bono tried to save before his unfortunate skiing accident. Yet many folks still live around the salty body of water. The sea has become this refuge for people who dont fit in anyplace else. The festival runs tonight through Saturday, February 11. Tickets cost $10 (suggested donation) per screening, $20 for VIP. Call 305-576-6161, or visit www.thefloridaroom.org for a complete schedule.