How Many Film Festivals Does Miami Really Need?

Categories: Film and TV
last_stop_kurtulus.jpg
Last Stop Kurtulus screens as part of the Turkish Film Festival.
Next week, Miami Beach's Colony Theatre will play home to the second Turkish Film Festival.

Surprised? So was I. The news that there is a Turkish Film Festival in Miami is a shock -- this town is not exactly known for its large Turkish community.

It seems like every week there's a new film festival clamoring for attention and audiences. Sure, this is a pretty big city, and it's growing more and more diverse, which means more diverse people wanting to see their own stories on the big screen. But I can think of at least 15 different fests here in Miami, and I'm sure I'm missing several. That's more than one a month. And having checked out some of these events myself.... Well, let's just say that clearly there are too many festivals and not enough revelers.

Most film festivals are born from community need -- meaning there's a substantial sub-section of the larger community to support the fest. This is why the Miami Jewish Film Festival and the Miami Gay and Lesbian Film Festival have been around for as long as they have and are thriving -- because Miami has a large Jewish and LGBT population, and the fests do admirable jobs at putting on a good event for their audience. The Miami Short Film Festival's focus on short form filmmaking has managed, against the odds, to find and expand its audience in its decade-long existence, while the city's two biggest film events, The Miami International Film Festival (or MIFF, as its known) and the Borscht Film Festival have solidified their place at the top of the local festival echelon. MIFF's dedication to bringing top drawer international and Ibero-American films as well as big-name filmmakers to Miami -- and its track record of having done so for three decades -- makes it the grand dame of the scene. Borscht, while newer, has skyrocketed to become a huge player in the community, not solely for its dedication to telling Miami stories and cultivating local filmmakers, but also for its reach and influence in the highly sought-after "under 25" market. The existence and popularity of these festivals make sense, given our social makeup.

Still, there are other festivals whose existence more than baffles. Is it necessary to have both an Italian Film Festival and a Sicilian Film Festival? Rather than a Turkish Film Festival, why not have a Middle Eastern Film Fest and bring everyone together? Clearly, if these groups joined forces, they could expand their reach and resources and create a larger, more worthwhile event. Another fest, last year's France Cinema Floride, brought French-language films to Miami over a weekend at the Tower Theater. Are there really enough French ex-pats or Francophiles in the city to support a film festival?

This coming week is also the kick-off to the European Film Festival, formerly known as Romance in a Can, whose mission is, obviously, to showcase the cinema of Europe. Here's a logical addition to our city's film landscape, with a good mix of cinema from across the continent that substantial numbers of Miami residents call home. Yet the question begs to asked: why are the Italian, Sicilian, and French festivals not under the auspice and banner of this European fest?

The problem is not as simple as having too many film festivals. It's that many in Miami's film scene are just raising the flag of their own event, without first carefully assessing Miami's film landscape as a whole. An overcrowded festival scene, stacked with narrowly focused events, will create audience fatigue and eventually thin out theater attendance across the board.

Film festivals are great community events. They can bring together a diverse crowd to experience films that they'd likely never discover on their own. But when the focus of your festival is too narrow, or the target audience too small, all you have is an unsustainable event. What could've been a rich film landscape founded on collaboration becomes a disjointed smattering of themed film screenings. That a festival does not make.

Kareem Tabsch is the co-founder and co-director of O Cinema.

Follow Cultist on Facebook and Twitter @CultistMiami.

Location Info

Map

Colony Theatre

1040 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach, FL

Category: Film

Tower Theater

1508 SW 8th St., Miami, FL

Category: Film

My Voice Nation Help
10 comments
Sort: Newest | Oldest
Tinylady24
Tinylady24

Turkish people are not middle eastern. So your suggestion is not even valid. Regardless of what kind of film festivals there are, it gives all kind of people the opportunity to enjoy something different. I am not Turkish but I have been waiting for this years turkish film festival.

Count L.F. Chudzikiewicz herb.
Count L.F. Chudzikiewicz herb.

The reason SOUTH FLORIDA has so many Film Festivals is because it gives elected officials the chance to give Tourist Tax Dollars to friends, supporters, and even relatives. I saw, as everyone else did, how two unemployed, failed actors got the best friend and closest political adviser of one South Florida Mayor formerly Commissioner, on their "board of directors" and today the non-profit (and its two unemployed actors who are PAID although they call themselves "volunteers") has a TAXED SUPPORTED LOCATION in an HISTORICAL BUILDING owned by a city, created for the group by the CITY, and with funds for "operating" from the COUNTY (where the friend of Mayor who know who sits on an advisory board to award money to, YES, "Film Festivals"!) and CITY. In Germany, where I have been part of every year since 1980 there is a huge Turkish population, the largest outside of Turkey. NO TURKISH FILM FESTIVALS at PUBLIC EXPENSE!  AZUR 321 is an example of what is wrong with South Florida! ".... a Festival does not exist only for the community (of the film"s language).." NOW THAT IS IGNORANT, STUPID, and shows that AZUR 321 either does NOT attend Foreign Film Festivals or if AZUR 321 did AZUR 321 was BLIND, DEAF, and DUMB! The Brazilian Film Festival attracts people OTHER THAN BRAZILIANs and Friends of the sponsors? Even the "granddaddy" of Florida Film Festivals, the French Film Festival in Sarasota has been a success in terms of numbers because it a). was started when a FRENCH company was active in the area and they created a FRENCH audience for the Festival and b). France has an internationally known list of film people the Sarasota French Film Festival could bring to Sarasota for parties for rich people to contribute. Has anyone seen legions of non-Jews at Israeli or Jewish Film Festivals? , This is what drives me, a native of South Florida, crazy, the "cultural" world of Florida has no depth, width, or breath! It is an "industry" of untrained people who do no original work, and is basically a "money laundering" operation to pay political workers with nominal work requirements but relatively good salaries and in the case of the "museums" receive at bloated assessments, "donated art" so, usually real estate developers who have ruined the environment and priced the middle class, working class, and seniors out of decent housing, don't have to pay taxes because of the huge, faked, amounts of "tax deductions for art".

ALL THE BROADWAY SHOWS comment by AZUR 321 "shows" AZUR 321 is either under 30 or just plain dumb! The number of "BROADWAY SHOWS' has declined as the number of theatres has declined because of high costs of running a theatre property vs selling it for development even with the (relatively) recent tax/planning/use changes that encourage selling air rights, and the number of "Plays" "ON BROADWAY" today is a shadow of what it was 20, 30, 40 years ago. To be so unlearned about both Film Festivals and about Broadway is one thing, but to blogg and complain about an article, when the "complainer" has every fact WRONG and shows NO KNOWLEDGE of what they are talking indicates this blogger is one of the UNEMPLOYABLE political hangerson OF SOME FUNDED PROGRAM, such as a "FILM FESTIVAL".... doesn't everyone else smell a rat, too????

The Man
The Man

"Go get your bathing suit and enjoy the beach cause clearly films are not your forte."What an outrageous statement!Anyone who actually knows KAREEM (not KARIM) would know that he doesn't even own a bathing suit, as he only frequents the nude beach... Get your facts straight! 

Azur321
Azur321

Plus, Mr. Kevin Bosch goes on to help Karim, saying that having so many film festivals "dilute the public perception of what a film festival is". Do they really think that having so many cultural opportunities is worse than not having any? So I guess All the Broadway shows in New York City dilute the public perception of what a broadway show is?, And having so many  dance and music and theater festivals in every European country dilute the public perception of what culture is? Come On! Go get your bathing suit and enjoy the beach cause clearly films are not your forte.And for the record, I do really hope they come up with a Burkina Faso film festival or a Norwegian Film Festival, even if I'm not from any of those places nor do I know anyone from there, which is a very good reason to go see their film offerings.

Azur321
Azur321

I find this article by Karim Tabsch to be ignorant and offensive. Ignorant, because a festival does not exist only for the community that it "supposedly" targets, hence a Turkish film festival will attract people who believe cinema is something different from the over saturated and already boring commercial Hollywood market. It attracts people who want to see the world, who want to see the best of Turkish films. A Sicilian film festival gathers films from that region, so that those who are or are not can recognize what links them or separates them. Of course, the point of view that Karim is taking is that of people who only see a film as a product and that needs to be marketed to a certain niche. It is also offensive because the proliferation of film festivals in a city like Miami means that the audiences are really responding. The many new independent art cinemas as well as all these festivals are clearly stating the new reality of a city that used to be only a vacation spot and now it is a culturally rich place where people are hungry for something more than fast food and commercially forgettable blockbusters.

Patricia
Patricia

I think it is wonderful to have a lot of festivals! That way we can enjoy Cinema from around the world or around the corner!

Kevin Bosch
Kevin Bosch

For the record, Kareem is not just a self-absorbed blogger, is also a self- absorbed film festival programmer and indi/art-house proprietor! 

But seriously, I can agree that having too many little fests running around can dilute the public perception of what a film festival is (oh, did we just miss the Miami International Film Festival... its alright, the Miami International Underground Indie Latino Albino Inuit Gay and/or Lesbian Doc, Short and Nior Film Festival is right around the corner, I'm sure they'll have the same quality of films...). But I also think this problem is with the audience, and not the film festivals. The fallacy is to think that these specialized film festivals are meant JUST for that specialed group, when in reality there should be a strong enough film going community in Miami that will go to these fests to see the latest Turkish, European, Sicilian, Albino films. I think that having MORE festivals, but well programmed, produced and executed, is the key to this. Its how it happened in Austin. Everybody there goes to all the festivals, not just the Gay Inuits.

Ciara LaVelle
Ciara LaVelle

 I do wish Kareem would stop being so self-absorbed, though. Gawd, what a jerk. ;)

Ciara LaVelle
Ciara LaVelle

 I definitely agree that audiences in Miami can be part of the problem -- our film community, as with all our cultural communities, could be stronger and more involved. But I also think that consolidating some of the festivals Kareem mentions into higher quality events that take place less often will help people get excited about film. It's the whole supply and demand thing -- when you're constantly surrounded by something, you start to see it as less valuable. In Miami's case, I think many people have stopped noticing that the festivals are happening at all.

anthonyvop
anthonyvop

" Rather than a Turkish Film Festival, why not have a Middle Eastern Film Fest and bring everyone together"

Call a Turk a Middle easterner and see the reaction.

I see no problem with the proliferation of Film Festivals and in fact welcome them.  The free market will decide how many film festivals Miami can support not some self-absorbed, blogger for a free weekly.

Now Trending

Miami Concert Tickets

From the Vault

 

Clubs

Loading...