Conjoined twins, self-loathing robots, Miami home movies, and a Jodorowsky.
The Borscht Film Festival's 9th year, which officially kicked off Wednesday, continued with a strange bang Thursday night with Space Miami at the Patricia and Phillip Front Museum of Science. It was half film screening, half boozery as Miami's young and stylish milled about the floor.
Science was surely farthest from their minds. Art was probably hanging around there somewhere.
We headed out expecting a satellite launch of some kind, but the Miami Auronautics and Space Administration, or MASA for short, and its 305 GB of Miami culture turned out to be a joke. We won't lie. We're a little sad.
The shorts, of course, were real, and some of them were actually quite good. The screening was prefaced by a kind of Adult Swim rip-off with white text messages flashing on a black background. The audience laughed as the disembodied, silent voice of Borscht explained that PBR was supposed to host the event, but recently was bought by a Russian company and therefor had it's account frozen. Everyone was now enjoying free Beck's, and you were advised to keep drinking PBR if you approved of terrible human rights policies.
It also explained that these films would have elicited angry emails if shown at the Arsht Center Saturday, meaning "the good ones," and certainly, they were mostly very heady and disturbing points of view.
Some of the films couldn't have been more than a couple of minutes long. Some of them ran maybe 20 minutes in total. Altogether, it was two hours of footage with an uncomfortable, internal vibe running throughout. We can't say we understood all the metaphors on display, but whatever makes an aspiring filmmaker happy.
For us, some stand-put pieces included Ham Heads, the emotional tale of two conjoined middle-aged best friends and brothers, one of who is very sick. They know they're dying, but they're in a one-sided race to live longer than the old lady across the street. It had a real old Miami feel to it and was somewhat comforting in its sadness. A piano cover of Katy Perry's "Dark Horse" was very well done. We also enjoyed the very short The Coral Reefs are Dreaming Again, a vibrant man vs. nature trip-fest exploring themes of mortality and the Universal oneness of life.
Stray Dogs was another favorite, the tale of a feuding magician and his beautiful assistant as told from the perspective of a hapless bystander. The magician keeps turning people into dogs on accident, but the crux of the argument only comes out at the end. It was perhaps the most humorous of all the offerings, though a Miami connection was nowhere to be found.
Halfway through the screening, the audience was treated to the big star, a short called The Voice Thief from Adan Jodorowsky, son of beloved surrealist filmmaker Alejandro. His father's influence is all over the work, in it's striking visuals, bright colors, and esoteric themes. It also mirrored the '89 film by Peter Greenaway The Cook, The Thief, The Wife, and Her Lover. It was the clear centerpiece of the showing, and a lot of people just got up and left after it ran.
We're not altogether sure this Borscht event was more than just a front for young kids to dress nice and drink free beer. Almost everyone we spoke to commented first on whether or not there was still free Beck's to be had, maybe they had just run out, or perhaps some new beer had just been brought; and there was always the sound of clanging bottles inside the theater we by some miracle heard over the deafening screech of the films themselves. Why did it have to be so loud in there, seriously?
Back in the museum, there were projections and various installations. Someone kept blasting cryogen into the hall. There was a musical and laser performance inside the planetarium, and Kool A.D. of the former group Das Racist was supposed to be the headliner, but he reportedly cancelled and we didn't stick around to check it out. After two hours of mind-bendingly sad short films and no space exploration, we were pretty done. We also don't really care for Beck's, so what was the point?
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All we can say is, in it's 9th year, Borscht is looking stranger than ever. It put it's weirdest foot forward, and we are quite excited to see how the rest pans out. We just hope they turn the damn volume down.
Follow Kat Bein on Twitter @KatSaysKill.