Did we just crankily decry Miami's supposed art cinema boom yesterday? Looks like we spoke too soon because O Cinema will start screening films next week -- albeit in a soft opening. On February 24, the theater will show their inaugural film, Mississippi Damned. O Cinema was open during Art Basel with a temporary license, but after a few technology blips and uncomfortable folding chairs, cofounder Kareem Tabsch says "We weren't ready for our close-up." But it may finally be time to zoom in. Theater seats are installed and films booked. The official opening will be in late April, after the theater hosts screenings of the Bicycle Film Festival as well as the Borscht Film Festival.
Why start with Mississippi Damned? Tabsch calls it a "truly
independently movie," made by an African-American female director. He
says O Cinema is interested in screening movies that might otherwise not get shown, but deserve an audience. They want good films that may never get wide distribution and will often go straight the filmmakers to get
Tabasch says he doesn't feel any tense competition with Miami's other
art theaters, which he calls his "cinema brethren." Plus, he adds,
they're really separate geographically. O Cinema pulls from the Central
and North Miami crowd, and there's not another art theater for miles.
Programming in an arts district can be tricky, however. "Being in
Wynwood raises the bar. There's so much good art and performance art
around here, there are higher expectations." It also means O Cinema can
get away with more avant-garde film picks from time to time. But for the first few weeks, expect independent films that have made rounds on the festival circuit. After
Mississippi Damned, O will screen the Sundance-acclaimed film Four
Loins, a dark comedy about British suicide bombers.
See Mississippi Damned Thursday, February 24th at 8pm with screenings
through February 27. Tickets cost $7.50 to $10.50. O Cinema is located
at 90 Northwest 29th Street in Wynwood. Visit o-cinema.org.