Six major studios, owned by global conglomerates such as Time Warner and Rupert Murdoch's NewsGroup, control Hollywood, determining what films get made, how they're made, and how they're made available to the public. This nation's film industry is driven by one thing and one thing only: market share. If the stock prices drop, so does the other shoe. Which is why the chances of a mainstream movie being worth seven bucks admission are about as likely as François Truffaut springing from the grave to remake Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. Which is why there are film festivals.

Spawned at Cannes and reinvigorated by Sundance, film fests now number in the thousands. Besides gathering together cineastes and celebrating the medium, these events should provide the opportunity for ordinary Joes and Janes to see films inspired by artistic vision rather than by test screenings, tracking indicators, and gross-after-negative point returns. The Miami Film Festival falls short by drawing heavily on movies that are either corporate releases or prize winners from other festivals, and by overloading its schedule with Latin fare.

The much less calculated Fort Lauderdale event follows a populist policy, disregarding potential carping by critics and taking an aggressive approach. Films shouldn't be made for critics, and growth maintenance may be good for events, but it's not good for filmgoers. FLIFF's Gregory von Hausch has defined his event's mission as giving opportunity to young filmmakers and bringing films to South Florida that would not otherwise show here. At this past fall's FLIFF, one-third (43 out of 120) of the movies were by first-time directors. Features were acquired from Iran, Austria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Spain, the United Kingdom, and Algeria, as well as North and South America. FLIFF also has reached out with sidebar events, called minifests, in Miami, Hollywood, and Boca.

"I've never done anything like this before," says Tina Osterling, a Tampa native visiting the Russian and Turkish baths for the first time. "It's so cool, or I guess, hot." She and a half-dozen others sat in bathing suits, sweating amid a swirling mass of steam said to reach temperatures as high as 160 degrees. Every few minutes she and the others seated on the top tier of the red-tiled Russian Radiant Room poured cups full of ice water over their heads to quell the raging heat. Visitors can also inhale eucalyptus and peppermint herbs in the Aroma Therapy Room, soak in the 100-degree saltwater Jacuzzi, sweat in the redwood sauna or the dry steam of the Turkish Room, play tennis, swim in the Olympic-size pool, tan on the sundeck, and work out in the fully equipped gym. A freezing cold plunge pool and Swedish shower are sure to reinvigorate even the most sluggish soul. If all that activity is too much, a Relaxation Room offers bunk beds where patrons can catch a few winks. It's all included in the $20 entrance fee. Those in need of some fortification can make their way to the dining room for sandwiches, beer, wine, salads, or freshly squeezed vegetable and fruit juices. For a little extra gelt, visitors can indulge in a massage, herbal bath, colonic, or mud treatment. The baths are open to women and men daily from noon to midnight.
Not only do they own some of the hippest hotels in Miami Beach (the Albion, the Greenview, and the soon-to-open Beach House in Bal Harbour), but the Rubells -- Mera, Don, and offspring Jennifer and Jason -- together possess the finest private collection of contemporary art in Florida. "There are few collections of its equal anywhere in the world," insists David A. Ross, director of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. "I'm jealous." Many of the works, too big or too daring for the average museum, reveal this family's taste for the strange, humorous, and irreverent. The paintings, installations, photos, sculptures, and videos by artists such as Paul McCarthy, Keith Haring, Francesco Clemente, Sherry Levine, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Charles Ray, and Cindy Sherman are exhibited in a former warehouse once used by the Drug Enforcement Administration. There is no fee for admission, but be forewarned: This stuff hasn't passed the censors. One depicts dozens of naked mannequins sprawling on the floor engaged in oral sex. In another a young boy is encouraged to get it on with a goat. Bring the kids at your own discretion. And risk. The collection is open Friday through Sunday from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Best Boxing Figure To Die In The Past Year

Chris Dundee

Dundee, elder brother of legendary boxing trainer Angelo Dundee, was himself revered by generations of fans and practitioners of the sweet science, especially here in Miami. From the Fifties until an incapacitating stroke in 1990, Dundee promoted hundreds of shows in South Florida, including the classic Cassius Clay-Sonny Liston bout of 1964. He managed four world champions and dozens of contenders. And he turned Miami Beach's Fifth Street Gym into one of the world's most vibrant boxing epicenters. That gym is gone now, and Dundee's energetic personal style and love of the sport is sadly obsolete in today's boxing industry, tightly controlled by promotional monopolies and rich television contracts. Dundee was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1994. He died of pneumonia on November 16, 1998, at the age of 91.
Sylk, a recent hip-hop transplant from Philadelphia, took to Miami like an alligator to the Glades: He slid right into our cacophonous subtropical airwaves and made them his own. Shortly after his arrival, people began talking about "The Roll Call," his twice-nightly homage to listeners. "What's up, y'all, so what's it gonna be? Now, who's on the line with your homey Al B.?" People of all ages call in, usually right in sync with Sylk's rap, and "shout out" to their friends. Caller: "Tasha's in the house." Sylk: "Oh, baby." Caller: "Mica's in the house." Sylk: "Baby, baby." When callers stumble and miss a beat, they'll be gently chastised by Sylk: "You're a dodohead!" Miami's most popular DJ, 29 years old, also instituted the nightly A-Team announcement. At the beginning of every grading period listeners fax in school report cards. Sylk then picks people at random and calls them at home to congratulate them on the air. Even when he's shouting "Whoooo do you love? 'Cause you got to looooove somebody!" to close his Friday-night show, Sylk doesn't preach so much as he invites his audience to have as much fun as he's having.
Widely known for his television show Sevcec on the Telemundo network, Sevcec's full range of talents are revealed on his radio show Sevcec Live, which airs from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Monday through Friday on Radio Unica. Sevcec himself says he is in his true element on the radio. Listen to the show and you'll see what he means. It is clear he's having a blast, and it's contagious. His staff lines up interviews with presidents and truck drivers for a program that roams from thoughtful analysis of Latin American elections to a story about a kid devoured by a shark. In between Sevcec demonstrates his remarkable ability to project empathy, which has garnered him the title, the "Latin Phil Donahue." Radio's informality allows the host to exercise his considerable wit, often with uproarious results.

So you think Miami is all about bubbleheads whose most intense reading comes from their hair-gel tubes, right? And about people who would say Verlaine is a brand of sunglasses and Pynchon a species of fish, right? Think again, dude. This town was practically founded by highly literate people from the northeastern United States, e.g., author Kirk Munroe, one of the first settlers of Coconut Grove in the late 1800s. These days the area's best-known men and women of letters are realists such as Carl Hiaasen, Les Standiford, James Hall, and Edna Buchanan. They cater to the popular tastes, and we love that stuff. But every vibrant literary scene needs a journal, because quality and experimentation do not always reach the mass market. Instructors at Florida International University founded Gulf Stream Magazine in 1989 when they launched the school's master's program for creative writing. "We particularly look for work we think is energetic, well made, and provocative," editor Lynne Barrett says. Call that statement a synechdoche for Miami. You can subscribe or order single issues by calling the FIU creative-writing department, or buy a copy from Books & Books.

No booming THX sound. No giant curved screen. No reclining overstuffed seats that look like they fell off a spaceship. No handy drink holders. No uniformed minions peddling hot dogs, nachos, and candy. No computerized ticket dispensers. No call ahead and charge. No TV monitors broadcasting what time the movie you came to see will be playing. A smallish big screen, 192 comfortably rickety seats. A discerning selection of first-run, second-run, and foreign films. A cozy lobby with couches, tables, and chairs where you can sip an espresso or a soda, scarf your popcorn and Snickers, chat with other cineastes, silently read a magazine, or just listen to the piped-in music. In short a charming and user-friendly theater run by two gregarious guys, Johnny Calderin and Cesar Hernandez-Canton, who remember what going to the movies was like before the advent of the multiplex.

No doubt about it, Miami is a surreal place, almost cartoonlike at times. Which may be why Scott Baldwin's Carter comics do such a wonderful job capturing the local cultural flavor, as seen through bohemian, but never jaundiced, eyes. The strip's protagonist, Brandon, is a wide-eyed fellow, beat down but still smiling, just trying to make sense of it all. Whether he's sitting down for a drink with death (literally), wandering through Little Havana, or getting bounced out of punk dive Churchill's, Brandon alternately evokes laugh-out-loud guffaws and head-scratching confusion. It incorporates the best aspects of Ziggy and Nancy, but with Baldwin's own charmingly crude, left-out-in-the-sun-too-long style.
"That was a small space, and I'm too big for small spaces," says drag queen Elaine Lancaster of a tiny bar on Lincoln Road where she worked recently. Sounds like Sunset Boulevard's Norma Desmond, who defiantly declared, "I'm still big; it's the pictures that got smaller." Lancaster, however, is referring not to her status but to her stature. She really is a big girl -- six feet two without heels or her Texas-size blond mane. Frequently seen on the arm of old Texas buddy Dennis Rodman, she arrived in Miami from Dallas nearly two years ago. You can catch her hostessing at Tuesday's "Revolution" at Red Square restaurant, Wednesday's "World Famous $1000 Strip Contest" at Warsaw, and Fridays and Saturdays at Bar Room. In her syrupy Southern accent, she's raconteur, comedienne, diplomat, and self-deprecating commentator on world events. But more than just the hostess with the mostest, Lancaster (a.k.a. James Davis) is a wiz at out-illusioning her fellow gender illusionists by doing some mean lip-synching. Batting her eyelashes, casting sidelong glances, smiling widely, wooing the crowd with her many expressions, it's no wonder she's been featured on television and in movies several times, has her own column in miamigo magazine, and lately has enlisted the services of an agent to advance her career. This diva is a glamazon who's got the goods to take her straight to superstardom.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®