Following in the awesome footsteps of years past, films from the Miami-centric Borscht Film Festival are making national waves. Sundance announced today that two of Borscht's featured short films for 2014 have been selected to screen at the illustrious Sundance Film Festival next year: Papa Machete and El Sol Como Un Gran Animal Oscura (The Sun Like a Big Dark Animal).
Papa Machete, directed by Jonathan David Kane, tells the story of Haitian farmer Alfred Avril, one of the last remaining masters of tire machèt, the indigenous martial art created by Haitian slaves to defeat Napoleon's armies. Teaching about the practical and spiritual value of the machete -- which is both a weapon and a farmer's key to survival -- Avril provides a bridge between his country's traditional past and its troubled present.
In El Sol Como Un Gran Animal Oscura, directed by Christina Felisgrau and Ronnie Rivera of Bleeding Palm, a computer and a woman fall in love only to be torn apart because of their inappropriate feelings for each other. The film was written by Rivera and Bernardo Britto, whose film Yearbook won Sundance's Short Film Jury Award: Animation earlier this year.
This marks the first time two shorts at Borscht have been accepted into Sundance. Papa Machete was also just featured at the Toronto International Film Festival.
"Over the past several years we've seen more and more Miami filmmakers tell local stories that really resonate nationally. Sundance is seeing it too, and is recognizing that talent by bringing so many pieces to the festival this year. Miami filmmakers are definitely having their moment," said Dennis Scholl, vice president for arts at Knight Foundation.
Miami will get to see Papa's gorgeous machete-wielding shots later this month at the Borscht Film Festival, with a machete fencing class and screening taking place on December 19 at the Little Haiti Cultural Center, and another screening during the main event on December 20 at the Arsht.
Papa Machete's acceptance to Sundance comes after the filmmakers mounted a successful Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for post-production, and also for the construction of a new training facility and living quarters for Avril, whose home was damaged during the 2010 earthquake.
Co-produced by Borscht Corp., the film is the first release from Third Horizon, a Miami-based film, music, and art collaborative, and recent Knight Arts Challenge winner, that aims to explore the stories and culture of the Caribbean and the so-called third world with new levels of nuance and insight.
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Daniel Cardenas' Xemoland marked the Borscht Corp's debut at Sundance in 2011, followed in 2012 by Lucas Leyva and Jillian Mayer's Life and Freaky Times of Uncle Luke, starring Luther Campbell himself. Last year, Leyva and Mayer followed with #PostModem.