Finally, there's news about a Miami public high school that has nothing to do with declining literacy rates, murder, or decreased teacher pay. Last Wednesday night, Miami Beach Senior High and the Romance in a Can Film Festival held a showcase of student-made short films.
We were astonished to hear Miami Beach Senior High actually has a film course as part of their Academy of Communication and Digital Media. (The future now seems a lot less bleak.) And from the talent shown on Wednesday night, Miami has a fighting chance to become a hotbed of film talent, a mission that's shared by the ladies and gents of the Borscht Film Festival.
NBC 6 reporter Jeff Burnside was supposed to host the competition, but
he was an apparent no-show (rumors circulated about a hair malfunction
and someone shouting "amateur hour" as they drove off). In his place,
the young comedian Salomon Burstein was even given the unenviable task
of improvising. When any host of an awards show bills himself as, "Alec
Baldwin, but funny," the bar is set quite high. But you can't fault him for
The student shorts program, centered around the
theme of "For the Love of," began with an impressive stop action short
"Heart it Races." Produced by Briana Acelor and Raquel Fernandez, the
tidy piece of animation showed an acute attention to detail.
next standout film, "Grizzly Love" was one of three to receive a cash
prize courtesy of the Miami Beach Rotary Club, featured a Halloween-esque
teddy bear. The same stuffed animal became the night's Sir Laurence
Olivier when he starred in the All Around Creative award-winning
"Teddy: A Toy Drive for Haiti." The film was legitimately funny and
arguably, the highlight of the night. Credit goes to the team of Karla
Durango, Eric Jaffe, Enrico Matte, and Andrew Freedman for managing a
tastefully done comedy with a lesbian joke in it, a feat that Hollywood
is still trying to perfect.
MB student Andrew Freedman featured
prominently throughout the night with credits in four of the 18 shorts
screened. He also received special recognition for his work on the
festival's production from Romance in a Can director Isabelle Lambert.
final award winner was "Soil," a five-minute documentary about the
school's relationship with an organization by the same name. Filmmaker
Joshua Matz presented an eye-opening account of Soil's efforts to
provide sustainable aide to Haiti.
When we spoke to Miami Beach
High's film instructor Gina Cunningham after the event, she expressed
how impressed she was by the students, especially considering that
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several of them were freshmen. At that age, many students are figuring
out how to achieve as little as possible. But not at Beach High, thanks
to the guiding hand of arts-loving teachers like Cunningham.
-- Brian Griffiths