Film & TV

Borscht Is Back: 2019 Festival Lineup Announced

Miami non-profit Borscht Corp. is known for putting on "the weirdest film festival on the planet."
Miami non-profit Borscht Corp. is known for putting on "the weirdest film festival on the planet." Courtesy of Borscht
Miami film fans, rejoice: the Borscht Film Festival has announced its return in spring 2019.

Yesterday, Borscht Corporation teased this year’s round of standout directors, commissioned projects and feature-length films in the works, ahead of 2019's festival. "The quality and quantity of submissions we received was absolutely humbling. Our community and interest in filmmaking has grown exponentially since we started back when the idea of telling Miami stories was a joke," Borscht cofounder Lucas Leyva says. The nonprofit has flourished from their inception, and next year's batch of projects includes submissions from all over the world.

As is the weirdly wonderful Borscht way, the array of films coming in 2019 include modern identifying labels with cultural implication. Commissioned shorts forged with zero men involved in oversight are part of its #NoBroZone funding model. Another initiative, First Generation Stories, promotes filmmakers with parents born in a foreign country, as well as work from first-hand immigrants. A slate of Flaming Films shows the work of LGBTQ+ creatives or those who intend to engage their work with LGBTQ+ themes. Rounding it all off are the selected Not-Boring Art Films, or narrative stories cultivated by visual artists.

"I'm particularly excited about this year's batch of #NoBroZone shorts, which started as an experiment last year to remove men from the greenlighting process for films by artists who identify as women," Leyva says. Marnie Ellen, whose short film Dirt Daughter chronicles "a lonely security guard's dreams of finding a companion on farmersonly.com," is where the idea for the #NoBroZone came from.
click to enlarge COURTESY OF BORSCHT
Courtesy of Borscht
Other standout directors on the list of Borscht shorts to come include blossoming moviemaking minds Dylan Redford, Edson Jean, and Karli Evans. Redford's currently driving two projects for Borscht: Emergency Action Plan and Spud Gun. Each takes a unique look at gun culture. The filmmaker says Spud Gun is both curiously literal and figurative, in his prototypal approach. "The film is about a boy who, in an attempt to build a potato cannon, is transported, via a charismatic Home Depot employee, into a magical-realist land of play violence and destruction."


Potato guns masquerading as mediums for twisted intergenerational male rituals is only one of 40 shorts on the Borscht horizon. In Gepetto, director Z Behl embraces feminism, with a retelling of the classic tale Pinnochio. Allapatah, by codirecting duo Adam Khalil and Adam Piron, is illustrated as a psychedelic portrait exploring epistemologies of Seminole alligator wrestlers. Another project sure to catch eyeballs is the Discount Therapy Club by newcomer Caitlin Saylor Stephens, where Instagram is used to make healing videos about the pain of existence. Who doesn't love the idea of a wittily crafted existential social media crisis?

In addition, a handful of originally commissioned shorts are in development to become feature films. Works like Alexa Lim Haas's Agua Viva, Xander Robin's Son of Lizardi and Robin Comisar's Great Choice are among these titles. Other thrilling news revealed is that Borscht themselves will produce their first ever feature: Omniboat: A Fastboat Fantasia.

"As filmmakers, we have supported over the years continue to develop their voices, they move on to bigger canvases," Levya explains, "[but] we ultimately have very little to do with the success of our short films. All the credit goes to the filmmakers who take the small sums we are able to give them and through their work and vision make good movies." Any outside validation, adds Leyva, "is a testament to the power of Miami stories and the support of our community."

Borscht 0 Slate of Films. Returning spring 2019. See the full list of commissioned projects and features at borsc.ht.
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Ayurella Horn-Muller is a South Florida native, Florida State University alumna, and freelance journalist. She covers arts, culture and music for Miami New Times, and news for New Times Broward-Palm Beach. You can also catch her work in Forbes, Elite Daily, Film Threat, Elephant Journal, and Face the Current.