"We just enjoy watching films a lot," Gasperini says with the hesitation of someone who doesn't think she's giving the right answer. Vincenzini and Roberto laugh in agreement.
All three are independent filmmakers from Italy who met in New York City. Vincenzini was writing for a blog and interviewed Gasperini for a story. Later, when Vincenzini had an idea for a short film, she tapped Gasperini to help.
“She had met other Italians in New York," Gasperini recalls, "and we decided to shoot this film. After the film, if your crew is nice and you work well together, you become really good friends. We became a really attached group.”
In this case, the women became so attached they all wanted to start another project together, but Vincenzini had returned to Rome, and Gasperini had followed her work down to Miami. Roberto remained in New York. Though it would be more difficult for the group to make a film scattered across the world, it wouldn't stop them from watching and discussing them together. So with a focus on showcasing independent films, the three created the Miami Independent Film Festival, or Mindie, recruiting much of the remaining crew to be jurors for monthly submissions.
"I feel like a lot of film festivals kind of spread out a lot and never make a very small selection of films," Gasperini continues. "That’s what we’re trying to do. We’re small, of course, we’re auto-funded, we have a few sponsors, but everything comes from the submissions. We wanted to make something very cultural, not commercial."
"It really takes a long time," Gasperini laughs.
While trying to choose films that show the production value independent films are capable of, the three concentrate most on interesting, genuine, and original stories. That's what caught their eye with Train Station, the winner of their fiction feature film category. Shot on location in 25 countries, the work was written and created by 40 filmmakers through CollabFeature, an international collaborative filmmaking group started by Ian Bonner and Marty Shea in 2010.
"When we saw it, all of us just said, 'Whoa,'" Gasperini says of the submission for Train Station. Their reaction makes sense, because although watching films might be the founders' selfish motivation, they stress the importance of filmmakers being able to network and share resources at their event. That's why this year's programming has expanded to include workshops and a photography exhibit.
"It's very intimate," Gasperini adds.
With tentative plans to expand with a screening committee and an online platform for traveling filmmakers who need access to local talent, the three make it clear that Mindie won't be their only avenue to connect those toiling in independent film. And though they joke about advising young filmmakers to change careers, the festival's founders are in it for the long haul.
"Miami is growing culturally," Gasperini says. "We want to be a part of that."
Miami Independent Film Festival
Screenings at 6:30 p.m. Friday, 1 p.m. Saturday, and 1 p.m. Sunday at the Miami Beach Cinematheque. All screenings are free and open to the public on a first-come, first-served basis. For a complete schedule, visit miamindiefilmfest.com/mindie-2017.