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By Mark Bell | December 19, 2012

What you are about to read is an eventual day-by-day accounting of my adventures at the Borscht 8 Film Festival in Miami, Florida. Once described as “akin to Sundance on psychotropic mushrooms” by the Miami New Times, Borscht is unlike any other film festival I’ve attended. Which is to say that it is like Miami exposure therapy, part filmmaker summit, part film festival and all fun. In other words, Borscht is just that, a cinematic soup made up of all types of nonsense, with Miami as the main component.

When I first got the invite around a month ago to check the festival out, I had little idea what to expect. Itineraries mentioned tours of weird aspects of Miami, petting zoos, late-night bike rides through the city and events centering around showcasing films and filmmaking from different cities, all under the main draw of the centerpiece event known as Borscht 8, where the films commissioned and produced by the festival creative body, Borscht Corp, would be premiered. Here’s the teaser for the festival that ran in the lead-up to the main screening:

Then, as the dates of the festival got closer, the festival drew controversy when one of its events, a party at the Miami Art Museum named the Bosh Film Festival (created to shine a little extra light on one of the commissioned shorts, Adventures of Christopher Bosh in the Multiverse), found itself the victim of potential legal action from the lawyers of Miami Heat player Chris Bosh, who sent a cease-and-desist letter. There were fears of at least the Bosh Film Festival getting shut down, organizers maybe getting arrested and the short prevented from public exhibition. The filmmakers behind the short, Bleeding Plam, chalked it up to an evil multiverse plot, and responded with an animated GIF of Star Prince Akilobataar (multiversal savior Bosh’s real name) fighting his way through the cease-and-desist letter. Which seemed like the end, until the NBA sent a letter too. And now that you’ve read all that, here’s the trailer for the short film all the lawyers were getting annoyed with:

Overreact much? With the Bosh Film Festival event being non-profit, as Borscht Corp is a non-profit too, there wasn’t any money for Bosh to be losing because of this, he doesn’t have a film festival so it’s not like the event was infringing on his ability to make money with his own fest and the short itself was very obviously parody. The best publicity the event got was the lawyers trying to shut it down. All of this insanity was going on before the fest had even started! And then I got to town…

Day One, Thursday, December 13, 2012
My plane ride to Miami was almost uneventful, marred only by my last-minute decision to change my seat to a window spot closer to the front of the place. Seat Guru has me convinced I had made the right decision, but they turned out to be wrong as my row was directly behind first class (SG said that was row 7, so I chose row 8, and row 8 wound up being where row 7 was supposed to be). This meant three hours with a little more leg room but no place to put my bag, and arm rests that weren’t adjustable at all. Instead they perfectly came up just high enough to pressure-point-pin my thighs. Pain, thy name is Row 8.

Anyway, once off the plane I caught the shuttle van waiting for me and made my way to the hotel I’d be staying at, the Cardozo. Best known for being owned by Gloria and Emilio Estefan, it was notable to me because it was where the hair gel scene in There’s Something About Mary was supposedly filmed. Whether this is 100% accurate I cannot say (many “facts” about Miami I learned over the trip may not have been true, but I like to think they were), but my hotel floor had a framed poster of the film, so something related happened there.

I wasn’t there long, however, as the evening’s activities were about to take place at the bar located at the other spot where festival folks were staying, the Freehand Hostel. Before my shuttle arrived, however, I got my first real glimpse of what it means to live in Miami. While waiting on the corner, a man sold me his hip-hop CD for $5 (he had two different ones, asked where I was from and, when I answered, “Philly,” gave me the “harder” one), I saw a woman walk by while hula-hooping the entire time and a police escort lead a parade of cars and scooters with menorah lights on their roofs and handlebars. It was a Hanukkah parade, and it was only enhanced by the loud techno that accompanied it.

Once at the Freehand, I met up with film producer, and frequent festival cohort, Adam Donaghey. We got into a lengthy discussion not about having a flying car, but how one would regulate traffic in the skies if everyone had flying cars. Our conversation eventually included Jillian Mayer, her tiny dog Shivers, Lucas Leyva and Jonathan David Kane, filmmakers and organizers behind the festival (well, Shivers doesn’t necessarily make films but does star in a few). After some socializing, it was time to head to the big event of the evening.

“FutureHistory” by Coral Morphologic was a showcase of remixed underwater films by Jean Painleve and new, psychedelic up-close and personal footage of crabs and coral, all projected on a 7,000 square foot screen at Miami’s Soundscape Park. As cool-looking footage of various sea creatures played to an ambient beat, folks on the grass around me began toking up, immediately making me hungry and no doubt making their coral viewing that much more unique an experience. Luckily, Jillian somewhat came to the rescue, handing Donaghey and I not food, but beers for our coral-tastic evening. We questioned whether we needed to hide our consumption, or whether it was legal to drink in public parks in Miami, but such questions were answered, as would all subsequent questions in similar “is this okay?” vein, with “Eh, it’s Miami. Until someone tells you to stop, I wouldn’t worry about it.” So we didn’t. We didn’t quite a bit.

FutureHistory projected at New World Symphony Soundscape Park

After the screening, we all went back to the Freehand for more socializing, which is where Adam and I met up with Sundance shorts programmer Landon Zakheim, Bob Weisz of Court 13 and SXSW shorts programmer Claudette Godfrey and her boyfriend Shelby, among many others. It was this crew, however, that eventually made its way out into the wilds of Miami for some late night food. Despite Landon’s mention of a sushi place open until 5am, no one could be convinced to actually try it out, so instead we all ate at a place called La Sandwicherie (which I would eat at the following night too). Food was good, but the music was better. After eating, I retired to my room. Only half a day in, and so much more to come.

Landon and Donaghey taking pics of their food

Day Two, Friday, December 14, 2012
Day Two started with a bunch of us Borscht attendees climbing into a tour bus for a trip around the luxurious sights of Miami. As booty bass music videos played on the screens, Jillian Mayer told us all about Miami, even as we were driving over the spot where that guy got his face eaten, or swinging by the abandoned and completely-covered-in-street-art Marine Stadium. It was here that we were told Jim Morrison got arrested for whipping his dick out on stage, a “fact” that Film School Rejects’ Chris Campbell was immediately corrected on after posting it to his Twitter feed; regardless, that’s one fact I choose to believe, as Morrison’s dick was clearly still at the stadium.

We, however, weren’t there long, as the police that had just minutes before seemed to be okay with this large group trouncing around an abandoned, broken-glass-covered stadium, decided to run us off. So we never got the picture of everyone sitting in the damaged seats of Marine Stadium, though I did get one of Donaghey doing it.

Oh, and did I mention we had beer? How could I go this long without mentioning one of the festival’s sponsors, when they kept me good and soused for much of the trip!?! Yes, friends, if I wasn’t drinking Grolsch, I wasn’t drinking much. Next stop (I think) was the giant jai alai stadium, casino and museum. We were arguably the biggest crowd to attend a match there, and we arrived just in time for… practice. If there was a rhyme or reason to what we were watching, it was disrupted by the fact that the players were just warming up.

Where’s the crowd!?!

From there we ate at a restaurant in Little Havana, where I got the special (as I had no idea what was what) and sat down to the biggest freaking lunch I’ve ever had. Seriously, so much food, I couldn’t finish. Well, I finished the beef. And the plantains. And the fried chunk of cheese. Okay, so only the beans and rice remained, but it was a lot of beans and rice.

After lunch, and some shots of a very strong coffee (of which I had too many), we went to the home base of Coral Morphologic (who you may remember from higher up in this piece as the guys behind the coral footage shown opening night). When we weren’t trying to attract manatees with a hose (and either Claudette or Jillian’s screams of “Manatee! Manatee!” weren’t driving them away), we went inside and got to see all the coral. Set in tanks under black lights, we got to check out all the species, including one that Coral Morphologic had discovered themselves, as it was indigenous to the dirty waters in the area (poo coral?).

Coral in a tank

Once we were done checking out the coral, and praying for a manatee visit (I wanted my hug, dammit! Another “fact” from our tour was that hugging a manatee carries a $5,000 fine, as it is considered “manatee molestation.” Conversation then centered around the idea that you could eat manatee, and questions arose in my head about the underground restaurant that might serve such an item. If you can’t hug it, might as well eat it.), we went over to O Cinema, where two of the day’s events would take place.

Outside of O Cinema

O Cinema was a nice little alternative theater space, complete with its own art gallery show. See, prior to Borscht, Miami was in the throes of the annual Art Basel, which is like the Sundance of the Art World (or something). Anyway, O Cinema decided to playfully mock their more pretentious artistic counterparts by putting on Art Meowsel, a show of crummy cat art:

You may say, “what an interesting painting”…

…but then you see the original ink.

You know a cat art gallery show couldn’t NOT show this…

One room had a loop of a guy riding his bike with his cat on his shoulder. This was my favorite frame from that loop.

It was during the downtime at O Cinema where I was able to catch up on the day’s events outside of Miami. Though Chris Campbell had told me earlier about the Newtown, Connecticut school shootings that occurred earlier in the day, I hadn’t had the opportunity to sit down and read about it with any detail. My heart still goes out to the family and friends of all of those that suffered from this horrible tragedy, and I wish we didn’t have to keep enduring these horrible events across the country. It is truly sickening. But enough words, time for action, and hopefully the coming weeks will show some real change to help prevent this nonsense from occurring so often. Something has to be done.

The next Borscht event was the first of a film summit of sorts. Filmmaker Bob Weisz of Court 13 brought along a number of short films, film clips and a music video that were, as the festival program stated, “indicative of the ethos, interests, and methods of production of New Orleans.” And as we watched the films, Bob had us take a sip of our ever-present bottles of Grolsch whenever we saw something submerged under water, saw something on fire, saw a kid running around and shouting, for whatever reason, or heard profanity. For those who weren’t already good and Grolsch’d, this got them there.

We saw half of Ben Zeitlin’s Glory at Sea (a precursor to his film Beasts of the Southern Wild), a short documentary about the making of Beasts… by the Ross Brothers, some of the Ross Brothers’ Tchoupitoulas and a bit of Lord Byron. Bob also showed a music video for Big Freedia’s “Y’all Get Back Now,” which I’ve embedded below (listen to it LOUD), and another short film by Benh Zeitlin from 2005, entitled I Get Wet, that you can watch on the Court 13 website (and you should, because it is incredible).

My take on New Orleans filmmaking? I agree with Bob that there is a sense of Wild West to everything, that one can just go out and film what you need to film. Likewise there’s a creative streak of utilizing whatever is around you in new and interesting ways to build something memorable. At the end of the screening, Bob did a different type of Q&A whereupon anyone could ask a question, but he got to ask one back. Not surprisingly, and maybe it was the numerous empty Grolsch’s in front of him, but Bob’s questions were a little provocative and silly, and East Oregon Film Festival’s Ian Clark had an equally fun answer when his turn came.

The next event, also at the O Cinema, was a screening of Amy Seimetz’s Sun Don’t Shine, with Seimetz in attendance for an after-screening Q&A. Only this wasn’t like any normal festival Q&A. Upset with what she felt were bullshit answers in interviews and Q&As, Seimetz agreed to an experimental format for the night’s screening where she would be hypnotized to believe that she had never seen the film before, nor had made it. Thus, she would be seeing it fresh, theoretically, and would then answer questions in the Q&A truthfully.

Amy Seimetz, under hypnosis, giving her honest impressions of SUN DON’T SHINE

And the result was emotional and uncomfortable, not just for Seimetz but for myself as well. See, while I found the experiment to be interesting, I felt awful that she was going through such an emotional response to the film, particularly when she found the film to be extremely slow at the beginning and also had no interest in seeing the lead characters stay together. Basically, she was unimpressed with her own film, and it was devastating.

She did say something in the Q&A, however, that made me question whether her reaction was actually her personal, honest reaction or if there was something else burbling in her subconscious that maybe intervened. She mentioned that she found the film’s opening slow, and it was a common criticism she had heard from critics and others who have reviewed her film. While maybe prior to this screening she hadn’t really given it much weight, raw and open via hypnotic suggestion, she found her own criticism lining up with others’ thoughts. Which made me wonder, did she really feel that way, or had she internalized the criticism she heard elsewhere to a certain extent and it was just sitting there waiting for its opportunity to jump in and offer doubt?

I asked her about it later, and she too wondered if that might be the case to a small extent, though it’s not anything one could confirm in that state. She just mentioned criticism always being in the back of her head, which again, would explain why, with the subconscious answering most of the questions under hypnosis, common criticisms may find their way back to haunt her. In talking with the hypnotist, I posed the same question about it being her real reaction, or just internalized criticism from an outside source. His answer was that, if it is internalized, than it is her voice. The criticism may come from elsewhere, but once it becomes internalized, it’s her own subconscious that reinforces it and it stops being from an outside source.

It’s a frightening thought how easily we can all internalize criticism, and therefore power it. Thus, it’s our own subconscious that does the real damage, and it offers perspective, both in taking criticism and giving it. In my role as a film critic, I never aim to hurt a person, and my words are meant to be constructive more than anything, focused on the film, not the person who made it. Still, I can’t help but think twice a little, from here on out, based on what I saw Seimetz go through.

And the night continues! As we exited the O Cinema, we found a large number of bicycles awaiting us outside. From here on out, we’d be biking to a bunch of bars, checking out street art along the way, on a night-time bike tour of Miami. Familiar face and awesome human (and producer) Farah White joined us, as did Filmmaker Magazine‘s Scott Macaulay, among many other fest attendees.

The gang is ready to set out for the next bar

We set off into the night, and I immediately regretted it. Maybe it was my orca-like mass on a tiny bike, or the ease in which sweat poured from my body, but it was a painful experience. It got a little better once I adjusted the bike seat to the right height and stopped lifting my knees over my head, but for the rest of the night the biking around became an endurance challenge. The goal was to finish, even has my body hated me every peddle of the way.

As our gang of bikes rolled along, we had bike escorts that rolled ahead and blocked intersections for us so that we didn’t become car window decorations. And besides the pain in the legs, the ride was pretty neat. Sometimes we’d pass someone and they’d clap for our group. Other times we’d pass someone and they’d joke about us running from the cops, or that we should bike as if we were running from the cops. Miami has a thing for escaping police, it seems.

The final obstacle was the ramp at the Miami Art Museum, where the Bosh Film Festival was held. I was not ready for that, and has my legs shook and my bike swerved, I debated getting off and walking up the damn thing. I didn’t; I survived and parked my bike, like everyone else, in the museum’s lobby. Which did not amuse one security guard, who immediately flipped out when the bike rack became overloaded. Still, I’d made it alive and it was time for the Bosh Film Festival that may or may not get shut down.

The Bosh Film Festival

And guess what? It didn’t get shut down. The only real questionable event of the evening occurred during the mid-party screening of Adventures of Christopher Bosh in the Multiverse, when it suddenly stopped screening. Rumors began to circulate about someone kicking the plug out of the projector to foil the evening, but it didn’t matter. I saw enough to know I couldn’t wait to see all of it at the Borscht 8 screening the following night. Other highlights of the party included Yung Jake doing his internet-media-performance thing in front of the crowd…

Yung Jake performing at the Bosh Film Festival

…and two of the Miami musicians from ANR performing a bunch of film-friendly songs while dressed in an alligator costume and tuxedo, respectively. Some of the songs covered included “I Will Always Love You,” “The Crying Game” and “Streets of Philadelphia.” The only thing that could’ve made the performance better is if, during the performance of “I Believe I Can Fly,” gator guy took off his costume to reveal he was William Hung (because his version of that song is my painfully favorite).

This is how all great songs should be sung

Suddenly it was very late, and I was very drunk. Chris Campbell and I escaped to La Sandwicherie for some sandwiches and shakes, and then it was time for bed. Or at least I think I slept; it was hard to tell the way the bed kept spinning.

Day Three, Saturday, December 15, 2012
In the morning I decided to head over to the beach and check it out, since it was right there outside my hotel. Unfortunately, I didn’t get there at the best time, as I could see a storm rolling in. Got a nice picture of impending doom though:

Um… I think a storm is coming…

I made my way back to the hotel and stood under the restaurant’s awning while I waited for the shuttle. When the rain came, it was insanity as folks ran to hang out with me in the dry spot. I didn’t quite understand, however, the people in their bathing suits sprinting from the beach to find cover from the rain; aren’t they dressed to get wet? Eh, it’s Miami.

The first event of the day was over at the Miami Beach Cinematheque, where I got to watch the presentation of films from Dallas. Our host was Adam “You’ve Read Too Much About Him As It Is” Donaghey and he had quite a few fun flicks to watch, including Caroline Connor’s Sexy Chat, Eric Steele’s Cork’s Cattlebaron, David Lowery’s Pioneer and even a sneak peak at the latest short film from filmmaker Clay Liford, Slash (which is hilarious).

The thing that the Dallas shorts seemed to have in common is a reliance on strong performances to carry the day. In the case of Cork’s Cattlebaron, it’s all about Robert Longstreet, Pioneer has Will Oldham and Myles Brooks, Sexy Chat has Byron Brown and Slash has… well, quite a few great performances, actually (including a memorable cameo from the previously mentioned Robert Longstreet). If New Orleans was about the inventive nature the surroundings foster, Dallas was about the strong personalities that endure there.

Following the Dallas program was a screening of Borscht Corp’s Andrew Hevia’s documentary Rising Tide: A Story of Miami Artists, about the local art community that has grown both because of, and in spite of, Art Basel’s annual presence. The doc focuses on a number of local artists and their installations, with my favorite being the two gentlemen known as “Funner Projects” who created the crossbow that shoots 2×4 planks of wood instead of arrows.

Like the ethos of New Orleans, the sentiment regarding art, and quite simple anything, in Miami is that it’s like the Wild West, and folks do what they do, how they want to do it, until someone tells them to stop. And even then, that “Stop!” has to be pretty serious.

After the doc, a bunch of us now Borscht regulars, whose names you should recognize from earlier (Landon, Claudette, Donaghey, Farah, Bob, Cucalorus Film Festival’s Dan Brawley and more) headed across the street to the World Erotic Art Museum.

The World Erotic Art Museum

Once inside, we weren’t technically allowed to take pictures. Which was a shame, because the paintings of Disney characters doing horribly depraved sexual acts on each other was worth a snapshot or two (poor Dopey, he seemed to be getting pile-drived in the a*s the most, which made many of us feel bad for the dwarf; you think he even knows what’s going on?). Bob Weisz even had his phone (or was it a camera) confiscated as an example to us all.

As we walked around, it became very clear: people have been making art and sexual tools for a very, VERY long time. One ancient artifact looked like the 3D equivalent of the Morrison graffiti penis pictured above. This made me wonder if, some day in the future, all those penises scribbled on bathroom stalls will be considered erotic art, if they aren’t already.

We were all allowed to take pictures in only one room, “The Gay Room,” and we all got our money’s worth in there, as it had a giant penis statue that just begged to be posed with. We only ran into trouble when it came time to get a group picture, and we needed someone else to take the pic. I asked the security guard, but he refused with a “I don’t go in that room,” which was strange that, of all the rooms in the whole museum, THAT one was problematic. Still, he found an employee willing to take our group pic. Here’s a collection of everyone’s penis poses.

What a bunch of dicks! From left to right, Farah White, Bob Weisz, Landon Zakheim, Me and Adam Donaghey

The big get of the museum, as far as film geeks are concerned, however, was the actual penis sculpture from A Clockwork Orange. So many of us wanted to get a pic of that, and some of us did. One in a clandestine manner, and the other by talking to the owner of the museum and convincing her to let him snap one pic. I won’t say who did what, but you’ve got the roster of faces above to choose from.

Once we filed out of the museum, it was time to head to dinner at Soyka, which outside of the actual screening of Borscht 8, was probably the most formal of events I attended. It was a nice restaurant with a great choice of menu set out for us (I had the Chicken Schnitzel and Crème brûlée), the sort of place where you drink wine with the meal and not Grolsch (which was probably a good thing; I needed a break). Conversation at our table mostly centered around crowdfunding, of all things, and I met Life and Freaky Times of Uncle Luke executive producer Evan Rosenfeld and his fiancé, who had just gotten engaged earlier in the day. I had bought a souvenir at the Erotic Art Museum, a glass-blown pendant of a naked torso, to take home to my wife, but it made more sense to give it to Evan and his fiancé as an engagement present. I don’t know if they already had one…

S’Mores in a Cup

After dinner, and a brief stopover at a nearby bar, it was time to head to the Ziff Ballet Opera House at Adrienne Arscht Center for the festival’s main event: Borscht 8. The venue was huge, and judging by the attire of most of the attendees, many of us were woefully under-dressed for the occasion. Still, I soldiered on in my cargo shorts and did the best thing I could think of to help me fit in with those better-dressed and better-looking than I: I ate a S’mores in a Cup!

After my meal, which was more like “marshmallows block the fork so you have to eat each layer individually which defeats the purpose of it being S’mores by the time you reach the graham cracker crust at the bottom with nothing to help you eat it,” it was time to be seated. Chris Campbell and I had tickets that had a “W” on them, so we were separated from the group and asked to sit in a specific row. Which was fine, it was perfectly placed in the middle, but it was also crammed. Since no one else had assigned rows, and there were tons of open seats available, I bolted for some loose seats along the side of the auditorium. Chris joined me shortly thereafter, and we both steeled ourselves for what would be, no doubt, an insane program. And it was.

Introduction of Borscht 8 by the people who organized it all

And now, a rundown of all twenty of the short films of Borscht 8 with a brief one-to-two sentence opinion on each. The shorts ran during an almost three hour program (which nicely had an intermission). Shorts with an asterisk were commissioned and/or produced by Borscht Corp.

  1. Intro *
    Directed by Borscht Corp
    Set the stage for the evening nicely, as a blubbering filmmaker cries over the fact that his favorite basketball player, Chris Bosh, had waged a legal war on him and his short. The commitment to crying hysterics is what put this one over the top.
  2. Miami 1996 *
    Directed by Nick Corirossi
    Plays out like found video footage of a house party in 1996 that turns particularly brutal near the end, but otherwise is highlighted with many entertaining, comedic moments.
  3. #PostModem *
    Directed by Jillian Mayer and Lucas Leyva
    From the opening matter-of-fact statements about mortality from children to the musical numbers to the jetpack to the vortex, this short was all over the place in its investigation of eternal life and salvation through technology, but in a good way. Another flick from Jillian Mayer and Lucas Leyva that’s on my “awesome” list, and I still can’t get “Mega Mega Upload” out of my f*****g head.
  4. Waiting for Berta *
    Directed by Laimir Fano
    Another standout, this short tells the tale of two elderly women who used to share the same lover, and the lengths one of the old women will go to for her revenge on the other. Hilarious in its premise, and the sequence with a “high speed” car chase was pretty sweet. No subtitles though, and my shoddy Spanish didn’t help me out, but for the most part it plays like a silent film.
  5. Places Where We Lived *
    Directed by Bernandro Britto
    I had trouble understanding the audio on this one, so I don’t really have much of an opinion because I didn’t entirely know what was going on. Would like take another look.
  6. Haunt Ed *
    Directed by Andres Meza Valdes and Diego Meza Valdes
    A funny short with great production value, it follows Ed, who routinely YouTube’s himself getting wasted. In this case, he decides to film himself spending the night in a haunted house while getting wasted, and the result is creepy and hilarious.
  7. Sea Devil *
    Directed by Calavera
    I was not a fan of this one. It seems to set up some foreboding doom when a fishing boat pulls a man covered in barnacles onboard, but never really delivered for me.
  8. Fungia *
    Directed by Coral Morphologic
    More footage from our friends at Coral Morphologic; I could watch this stuff for hours and, over the course of the weekend, I might have.
  9. Crackhead Katana *
    Directed by Eric Mainade
    A grindhouse-style trailer about a crackhead fighting back against gentrification in the only way he knows how: by using his katana. Would’ve fit in nicely with the grindhouse trailer competition that originally birthed Hobo with a Shotgun.
  10. The Apocalypse
    Directed by Andrew Zuchero
    Another great short! In this one, a group of friends, bored out of their minds, decide to come up with something to do. Upon thinking of an idea, however, their head explodes. It then becomes a hilarious endurance challenge to not think of anything, lest one die in spectacular fashion.
  11. Maintain Right
    Directed by Andrew Hevia
    Remember those guys with the the 2×4 crossbow? Film them in slow motion, destroying different items. Amusing and funny, particularly the slow motion reaction shots of the duo.
  12. Pineal Warriors: Supermeng 1 *
    Directed by Egan von Schriach and Otto von Schirach
    No f*****g clue what the Hell was going on here; just a whole bunch of crazy with Blowfly. Fun to watch, but batshit insane.
  13. When We Lived in Miami *
    Directed by Amy Seimetz
    A quality dramatic piece by Amy Seimetz, who stars as a mother trying her best to cope for her daughter when her husband can’t seem to get it together. Catches a snippet of a couple in freefall, and the drastic actions of a woman pushed too far.
  14. TREX
    Directed by Nicos Livesey
    Animated loop of crazy. Fun for its short running time.
  15. Soul O *
    Directed by Sean Metelerkamp
    Another one that I didn’t quite connect with. Three friends in the back of what appears to be a limo on the inside, but a hearse on the outside, party though one of the three is not what he seems. Takes a bit too long to get to where it’s going, and the conversations it uses in the meantime are not all that interesting.
  16. Si Nos Dejan *
    Directed by Celia Rowlson-Hall
    Another short where insanity rolls out onscreen, though in this case it’s a gorgeous short film that’s more about interpreting an experimental narrative than, say, throwing as much crazy at the screen as you can and seeing what sticks. Definitely worth another watch.
  17. Dolphinception
    Directed by Infinite Dolphin
    Roughly what I would guess it’s like inside the mind of a Dolphins fan on gameday. Like TREX, a looping zoom-in animation, in this case of the Miami Dolphins logo, which the “eeee eeee” of dolphins repeats. Also could be a nightmare for non-Dolphins fans.
  18. The Voice Thief *
    Directed by Adan Jodorowsky
    Billed as the full 17 minute short of younger Jodorowsky, this turned out to just be the trailer. Regardless, it looks incredible and seeing how great the trailer was made not seeing the whole thing that much more disappointing.
  19. C#CKFIGHT *
    Directed by Julian Yuri Rodriguez
    Disturbingly one of my favorites, it’s fight club from Hell for one challenger when he faces a tall black man named “Molly” who wears a menacing gimp mask styled to look like a horse head. All around gritty, grimey, rough and not for the faint of heart. Thus, a favorite.
  20. Adventures of Christopher Bosh in the Multiverse
    Directed by Bleeding Palm
    Over the course of the evening, and especially in the intro, the screening of the short actually seemed doubtful. It even stated in the program that “due to legal reasons this film will not screen.” For a while, I wondered if it wasn’t a joke and the legal threats had finally won out. Not so, the short screened and I got to see all the lunacy surrounding Christopher Bosh and his damned multiverse battle against Jillian Mayer’s villainess (complete with evil dog, Shivers). And I still loved it as much this time as the night before, when I only saw some of it.

All in all, I think Borscht 8 was great, and I know I’ll be seeing quite a few of those twenty shorts at fests over the course of the rest of the year. #PostModem already has a slot at Sundance, but I could particularly see Waiting for Berta, The Apocalypse, Haunt Ed, When We Lived in Miami, Adventures of Christopher Bosh in the Multiverse and C#CKFIGHT having a solid run at fests. And not just because I liked them, but because I’ve seen similar, or far worse, play fests so I don’t think they’ll have much issue, should they take that route.

After Borscht 8 wrapped up, it was time to head to my final event of the festival, the after-party at Grand Central. Since Grand Central turned out to be a nice venue for drinking Grolsch and watching bands, that’s what I did. Attempts at conversation were had, but eventually you just can’t fight the volume of the music, or your own inebriation, and it’s time to join the mosh pit. Or, in my case, become the wall of the mosh pit. Seriously, I’m a pretty big guy and I likely would’ve decimated a number of moshers, so instead I was the guy who tossed people back into the pit, and stopped folks on the outside of the pit from getting hit by a wayward mosher. I think it worked out all around, and the Jacuzzi Boys in particular sent the crowd into a frenzy, keeping me busy in my mosh wall duties, even as I too enjoyed the show.

Jacuzzi Boys causing a mosh pit at the Borscht 8 after-party at Grand Central

And suddenly, it was 3am and I was tired. The next day I was heading home, so I reflected on my adventures at Borscht before falling asleep at a decent hour (decent being respective to every other night I’d fallen asleep).

Day Four, Sunday, December 16, 2012
My final day was a pretty one, as far as the weather was concerned. Even though the festival had more events, including a petting zoo, and continued on with more showcases of films from Missouri, South Africa and Philadelphia, my time was done. I got a nice breakfast at the restaurant attached to the Cardozo and shared a shuttle with the Village Voice‘s Michael Musto. We both learned, upon arriving at the airport, that American Airlines takes up a ridiculous amount of space and that it would be quite the walk just to get to the right desk to check-in. Regardless, made my way to the gate eventually and got home safe.

The weather the morning I left

In the end, what is the lasting legacy of this adventure? Was it nothing more than a fun few days that gave me some nice anecdotes? Not really. See, the impact of Borscht is not limited solely to Miami. Shorts from last year’s event, such as Life and Freaky Times of Uncle Luke, made quite a splash on the festival circuit this year.

Borscht production “I Am Your Grandma” went viral this year

Likewise, the 2013 Sundance Film Festival has not only programmed #PostModem, it also has New Frontier installations such as CORAL: Rekindling Venus, which includes contributions from Coral Morphologic, and performances by Yung Jake. What’s coming out of Miami via Borscht is not just some local film community identity, as by commissioning filmmakers from outside Miami and producing different films, Borscht Corp is making an impact across the filmmaking world. This may be Borscht 8, but it’s only the beginning.

Additionally, seeing Bob Weisz’s presentation of films from New Orleans or Adam Donaghey’s showcase of Dallas productions, shows that whether you call it Borscht or not, filmmaking collectives, formal and informal, are everywhere, and they’re making quality films. Hell, while “mumblecore” was a lazy way to lump a bunch of filmmakers into a similar class, it can’t be denied that most of those filmmakers and actors worked together on different films in differing roles. Maybe they never came right out and called themselves a collective, but in a way they were regardless. There was even talk, though I was already on a plane home by the time the event happened, that the Philadelphia showcase was going to announce their own Borscht. Just as the films have gone viral, so too has the filmmaking.

Do I think the Borscht filmmaking collective can work elsewhere? Yes, obviously, but I don’t think other cities should try to replicate Borscht Miami so much as take the ideas at its core and adapt them to the strengths and weakness of their own communities. Borscht Philly should not be Borscht Miami; they should both be incredible, and honor their cities and their local filmmakers, in their own ways. I mean, folks in Philly could care less about a Bosh Film Festival (and I doubt they’d get a letter over it either), but the Utley Udder Pull and Sock Hop? That might get some attention…

Big thanks to everyone who helped make Borscht such a memorable event, particularly Jillian Mayer, Lucas Leyva, Jonathan David Kane, Andrew Hevia, Arly Montes, Nick Ducassi and my “Borscht Mom,” Jessica Gross. If I forgot anyone that I met or chatted with in the above recap, or screwed up any names, I apologize now; I was drunk on Grolsch for 90% of the festival. I’m not even entirely sure if everything you just read actually happened. And one last thing: I love you Christopher Bosh, OWWWOOOOOOOOO!!!

Sometimes the biggest dick in the room also has the most friends…

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