Film & TV

Two Borscht Films Will Screen at Sundance; Borscht Diez Scheduled for February

Borscht Corp., the nonprofit that makes your favorite short films in and about Miami, has a lot of exciting news for 2017. First up: For the seventh year in a row, Borscht-commissioned works will screen at the ever-growing Sundance Film Festival in January. Better yet: Borscht has officially revealed dates for its long-awaited Miami festival, Borscht Diez.

This afternoon, Sundance announced two Borscht projects are slated to be featured at the Robert Redford-founded festival this year. One is Kaiju Bunraku, a domestic drama written and directed by Lucas Leyva and Jillian Mayer, simply pitched as a day in the life of a husband and wife. The other is a virtual-reality installation by Rachel Rossin called The Sky Is a Gap, in which the viewer is allowed to precisely move time with space by the use of a positionally tracked headset. As Borscht Corp. explains: "Existing in the physical and virtual realms, the installation depicts a pyroclastic explosion inspired by [Michelangelo Antonioni's] Zabriskie Point, where the scene's progress is physically mapped to the participant's forward and backward movement."

These two shorts join many others selected for competition from about 9,000 entries and bring Borscht's featured total to 12 projects, including Alexa Haas and Bernardo Britto's Glove, Terence Nance's Swimming in Your Skin Again, Sebastian Silva's Dolfun, Eric Mainade and the Meza Brothers' Boniato, Jonathan David Kane's Papa Machete, Bleeding Palm's The Sun Like a Big Dark Animal, Bernardo Britto's Yearbook, Jillian Mayer and Lucas Leyva's #Postmodem and Life and Freaky Times of Uncle Luke, and Daniel Cardenas' Xemoland.

But you won't have to go to Utah to witness Borscht greatness. The collective also announced that Borscht Diez will officially take place February 22 through the 26 in Overtown, South Beach, downtown Miami, and Hialeah, as well as on Biscayne Bay. The last night of the festival just happens to coincide with the Academy Awards, which the group states that locals should "keep rooting for our homegrown Moonlight!" — Tarell Alvin McCraney's lauded film.

Borscht Corp. goes on to express excitement about the Miami film scene and looks back at the past six years in the remainder of its email, which is reprinted below with the photograph of Andrew Hevia, Lucas Levya, and Jonathan David Kane that accompanies the heartwarming tale:

 "In 2010 we received our first grant from the Knight Foundation to 'help shape Miami’s cinematic identity by creating and showcasing original films that tell unique local stories.'

"We had to open a bank account just to have a place to deposit it. Exactly six years later TO THE DATE, Barry Jenkins won a Best Screenplay Gotham Award for a script that tells a unique Miami story, based on a play by another Miamian, Tarell Alvin Mccraney. The film itself dominated the Gotham Awards, also winning Best Ensemble Performance, Audience Award, and Best Feature- beating out films by legends Jim Jarmusch and Richard Linklater in the process.

"We are smiling in this picture because we were barely in our 20's and had no f_cking clue what we were [are] doing, and had no idea how much the next 2,190 days would challenge, inspire, infuriate, destroy, renew and remap us and just about every interpersonal relationship in our lives. The Moonlight adventure is far from over, but seeing Barry on that stage representing all the stories from this city that have gone untold and have yet to be told made every single one of those days worth it. The awards are a testament to the individual brilliance of the people who created the film, but they also represent the world awakening to Miami as a cinematic presence, national validation that our stories matter too and that, in some small way, we are being heard. We are so proud of everyone and how far this city and community have come. Now is when the work actually begins.

"Can't wait to see what the next six years bring."
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Juan Antonio Barquin is a Miami-based writer who programs the queer film series Flaming Classics and serves as co-editor of Dim the House Lights. Barquin aspires to be Bridget Jones.