New this year to the Revolt Music Conference was the addition of their first annual Revolt Film Festival. While the music portion took place at the Fontainebleau this weekend, the film festival screened its inaugural five shorts at the Lyric Theater in Overtown on Sunday.
The festival was hosted by America’s Next Top Model winner (and now actress/producer) Eva Marcille, along with appearances by Spike Lee, Eif Rivera, and Tirrell Whittley. What was unique about the Revolt Film Festival was that is put out a call to action to young filmmakers — ages 18 through 25. And out of over 500 submissions, narrowed it down to five finalists. Among the finalists — and the filmmaker whose film closed the festival — was 24-year-old Miami native Kevin Rios.
A recent graduate of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, Rios filmed his short, Made of Sugar, while still a senior at school. “It started as a different film and through editing, it evolved and became the three generations that it is now,” says the filmmaker. Revolt Film Festival marks his first festival screening and the Miami premiere of Made of Sugar.
Made of Sugar tells a short, yet touching story about three generations of a Cuban family. Using old family footage, voiceover work, stop-motion animation, and black-and-white imagery, Rios creates an homage to his heritage while also making a film that is relatable to any Latino living in America — especially the Cubans in Miami.
“It’s personal in the sense that it’s relatable to who I am, but it’s not based on a true story. [The short] is me reflecting on Cuban culture, the loss of culture through coming to the states, and also with all the interesting stuff that happened with Cuba and U.S. relations this past year, I felt it was the right time to explore that.
“To sum it up, I would say Made of Sugar is definitely about a Cuban family that emigrates to the States because of everything that’s happened over the last 50 years and the loss of the kind of culture that it used to be and what it is now and how it was Americanized,” explains Rios.
Ultimately, what he aimed to do was depict a Latino story in the most authentic way he knew how. “I was just kind of exploring a modern Cuban story that isn’t someone as a janitor or prostitute; I wanted to give a Latino story point of view that is authentic to me and not what’s usually represented.”
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Rios has submitted Made of Sugar to countless other festivals (including our very own Miami International Film Festival) and has so far been accepted to three more this year: the Miami Independent Film Festival, Indie Fest in California, and Big Pride LA with a screening taking place in November.
After graduating NYU, Rios moved to Los Angeles to pursue his filmmaking goals and is currently working as a production assistant on a reality show. Aside from his day job, the director has two films he plans on releasing in the near future. “I have two more shorts that have already been shot and I’m currently editing one that I plan on releasing online this month, and then I have another one that I’m editing, but I don’t know when it’s going to be released.”
After completing work on his two forthcoming shorts, Rios is changing gears and venturing into the world of the web. “I think my next move will be working on a web series instead of a short, just because times have changed and web series are kind of the new black,” he adds with a laugh.
You can keep up with Kevin Rios and his work via his Vimeo account.