When Borscht 8 wrapped up Saturday night, just about every person pouring out of the Arsht Center had a smile on his face.
The festival, which screened 20 films in total, drew a sizable, vocal crowd who cheered on their favorite films and filmmakers. And with good reason -- even if you weren't entirely taken with every single film on the big screen this year (and we weren't), there was something to enjoy about just about every single one of them, from the trippy, minute-long TREX, featuring a cartoon woman knifing a series of objects, to Waiting For Berta, a granny murder plot set against the death of Fidel Castro. (Sadly, Cultist writer Arielle Castillo didn't make the final cut.)
The general consensus: That Borscht's eighth film festival was its most satisfying collection of films to date. Read on to find out why.
Adventures of Christopher Bosh in the Multiverse
The festival opened with a short clip of "Ronnie Rivera," played by a Borscht intern who looks very little like the real artist and filmmaker Ronnie Rivera (at least the one in this dimension), sobbing, pleading his case, and generally throwing a tantrum in the direction of Chris Bosh and the NBA about the cease-and-desist letters he received about his film. It would've been a perfect response to the behind-the-scenes legal drama on its own. But then Borscht closed the festival with Adventures... anyway, and the crowd went wild. (Fingers crossed they don't actually get sued, though.)
Ed, a wannabe Jackass star who makes viral videos of his own self destruction -- drinking an entire bottle of vodka in one sitting, etc -- decides to set up for a night inside a haunted house while on trippy mind pills. The result is both genuinely funny and spooky as hell. Favorite moment: When a wasted Ed wanders up the staircase, only to notice a ghost slowly descending the stairs toward him. His response: "Nope," then turning back down the stairs to take more pills.
When We Lived in Miami
Amy Seimetz's quiet family drama shouldn't have fit into the Borscht lineup of multidimensional space princes and tripping viral video stars. But if it was out of place, we were too engrossed in its heart-wrenching story and perfectly subdued acting to notice.
Calavera's story of a creature from the deep who boards a fishing vessel smuggling two Cuban refugees into Miami was beautifully shot. But it was also a bit too vague to get its point across. Its conclusion, implying some scary force rising up from the waters below, would've been climactic if we'd had any idea of what it might be.
Three douchebags in a limo, passing joints, congratulating themselves on their pathetic rap skills, and generally making us hate them. This is really only acceptable to watch if at least one of these fools dies in a satisfyingly blood-splattered scene. Spoiler alert: That doesn't happen.
The Voice Thief
It's not that Adan Jodorowsky's highly anticipated film starring Asia Argento doesn't look good. It looks great, in fact, from the trailer that Borscht screened Saturday night. But that's all we got -- a trailer. And we're greedy, so.
The WTF Moments
The Borscht intro to Andrew Zuchero's film pointed out that it's not explicitly about Miami, but is also totally about Miami: "Think about it." Then people's heads started exploding, literally, and Borscht was correct.
Several audience members told me that Julian Yuri Rodriguez's depiction of an underground fighting ring in Miami was their favorite film of the night, and it's easy to understand why -- it's gorgeous to look at, suspenseful as it moves from a marriage proposal on a deserted street down into the city's underbelly, and overall engrossing as hell. But there's also a pretty brutal scene in the middle that plays like a Miami version of The Accused, making it hard to watch, at least for a few minutes. "Trigger warning" only begins to describe it.
Pineal Warriors: Supermeng 1
Hey, it's Blowfly! He's still delightful, as is Otto von Schirach. Who are the Pineal Warriors? Who are they fighting? Where is this happening? Who cares, shut up, this is fun.
I didn't grow up in Miami, so you're going to have to fill me in: Did all house parties in 1996 end with some guy getting his head crushed by a car? Because WHAT JUST HAPPENED THERE, Nick Corirossi? P.S. Loved it.
Hey, remember this?
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Betcha didn't think this Sundance-accepted film would feature Jillian Mayer riding a water jet pack in the nude. Or that its "MegaMegaUpload" theme song would be stuck in your head for the rest of your natural life. Can we get that in a ringtone?
UPDATE: Village Voice's Michael Musto also attended the Borscht Film Festival. Check out his experiences here.