Borscht Film Festival 2014: Ten Must-See Films

Julian Yuri Rodriguez's Lake Mahar.
Not all sequels suck. Case in point: the Borscht Film Festival, which launches its ninth edition this week at venues across Miami.

The work coming out of the Borscht Corp. film collective has earned major accolades over the past several years. Bernardo Britto's Yearbook took home the Short Film Jury Award for animation at the last Sundance Film Festival, and this year two Borscht-produced shorts, Papa Machete and El Sol Como Un Gran Animal Oscura (The Sun Like a Big Dark Animal), will be screened at Sundance. Borscht has had a presence at that festival for five straight years now; films by the collective have also screened at SXSW, the Vienna International Film Festival, the Fantasia Film Festival, and others.

You can see all three films at the Borscht Film Fest's biggest event, Borscht 9, a screening of 29 short films at the Arsht Center this Saturday at 7:30. But plenty of other worthy pieces will show at a series of events taking place between this Wednesday and Sunday. The whole lineup looks like required viewing for anyone interested in Miami, or film, or Lou Gehrig, or stripper fights. Here are ten that look especially promising.

See also: Borscht Film Festival Announces 2014 Lineup

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Womanizer, Bus Driver, Doper, Zen Teacher -- Teo Castellanos' Life Is in His Plays

Categories: Theater

Photo by Ian Witlen
On the second day of eighth grade in 1975, Teo Castellanos, a runty Puerto Rican kid in shiny new Pro-Keds, nervously scanned the hallways of Carol City Junior High between classes, on the lookout for his nemesis. The year before, a much bigger kid had approached from behind in drama class, swung his forearm around Castellanos' neck in a chokehold, and squeezed until he blacked out.

Over the summer, Castellanos had resolved to toughen up. His older brother advised him to fight to the end, no matter what. Castellanos vowed that he would.

Suddenly, in the crowded hallway, Castellanos spotted the nemesis, who immediately yanked his hair.

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The Ten Most Festive Spots in South Florida

Categories: Around Town

Kat Bein

The holiday spirit can be hard to come by in South Florida. With palm trees on every corner and 80 degree temps, the 305 is more likely to be Santa's vacay spot than a Winter Wonderland. Frosty the Snowman couldn't last a day and the ringing of sleigh bells would be impossible to hear over the honking horns on the Dolphin.

But if you're looking for it, holiday cheer is out there (be it Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or even Festivus). Here are the 10 most festive spots in South Florida, guaranteed to leave you feeling merry and bright.

See also: Why Miami Christmas Is the Best Christmas

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Florida Kids Take Center Stage Monday Night on HBO's Saving My Tomorrow Environmental Awareness Series

Categories: Film and TV

Photo by: Richard WhiteCloud
Teakahla WhiteCloud reaches for a baby sea turtle as part of her work as founder of Sea Turtle Oversight Protection, Inc.
"Lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter."

Martin Luther King, Jr., said that many years ago, but we heard it recently from a 12-year-old girl. Teakahla WhiteCloud lives in Ft. Lauderdale, and in her short years, she's become one of the world's great champions in the fight to save critically endangered sea turtles.

She caught the attention of HBO for her tireless works as founding director and secretary of Sea Turtle Oversight Protection, Inc., a junior ranger at Hugh Taylor Birch State Park, and for scoring a runner-up award for Oceana's 2012 Ocean Heroes. She and fellow Floridian Daniel Bravo, 10-year-old friend to butterflies, will appear in HBO's two-part documentary Saving My Tomorrow Monday night at 7 p.m., an inspiring series about kids who truly make a difference and why we need to heed their calls for action.

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Bramans Write ICA Blank Check, PAMM Faltering Financially

Categories: Art

Photo by Chris Carter
Earlier this month, the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) announced that it would be getting a permanent home in the Design District. The initial report outlined the ICA's close ties to Norman and Irma Braman -- billionaires who are locally as famous for their seemingly infinite number of car dealerships as they are infamous for recalling mayors -- who touted that the museum wouldn't sell naming rights or take a single penny of taxpayer money.

Braman reiterated his commitment to privately funding the ICA and threw a few more punches in PAMM's direction in a New York Times profile published last week. The Times write up is, perhaps, the ultimate signifier that the Bramans have arrived as major players on the international arts scene. But it also hints at a broader problem in the Miami museum scene, namely the deep disinterest Miami's millionaires have in investing in public arts institutions.

See also: Institute of Contemporary Art to be Built in the Design District

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The Best Films of 2014: Wes Anderson, Robin Wright, and We Are the Best!

Categories: Film and TV

via Fox Searchlight Pictures

Here are movie moments from 2014 I'll never forget: Gugu Mbatha-Raw's sad pop tart smacking her ass in Beyond the Lights, the sickroom choked with flowers in Michel Gondry's Mood Indigo, Oscar Isaac and Kirsten Dunst's Greek island all-nighter in The Two Faces of January, and the entire soundtrack of Keira Knightley and Mark Ruffalo's Begin Again, which I've hummed every week since. But hard choices must be made. The movies that made it through to my annual top ten represent a full range of what the cinema can offer--and as such, I'm presenting them as awards.

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Miamians Spend Obscene Sums on Sound Systems, Hate Books and Underwear

Categories: Lifestyle

Photo by Ranjithsiji via Wikipedia Commons
Conspicuous consumption is something Miamians know a thing or two about. It might be the closest thing we have to common cultural identity. And the luxury items Miamians spend money on are very likely influenced by the priorities established by the city's wealthy. According to a study published in Sunday's New York Times, the preferred status signifers of Miami are, uh, very different from other major metropolitan areas.

While New Yorkers and Dallasites shell out big bucks for designer clothes and shoes, Miami is more invested in sound systems. That's right Miami, you spend 290% more on sound systems than any other urban area in America -- a finding that's unlikely surprising to anyone who has spent more than a millisecond in the Magic City.

See also: The Ten Most Miami Cars on the Road

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Free Events This Week: Stitch & Bitch, Vertigo & Farmer's Market

Categories: Around Town

Wikimedia Commons/cc

The holidays are almost here, which means your bank account is probably approaching financial armageddon. Between obligatory Christmas shopping, overpriced holiday party attire, and embracing your inner Mother Teresa for those do-good charities even the well-heeled searching for their shoes.

Luckily, we've got your free-for-all guide to the week ahead, so you can give your overused credit card a break.

See also: City of Miami Breaks Ground on Film Studio

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Netflix's Marco Polo Is Everything That's Wrong With Game of Thrones

Categories: Film and TV

Despite its sumptuous displays of feudal opulence -- cavalries, silk gowns, all the naked female extras money can buy -- Netflix's Marco Polo feels distinctly like scraps. Turgid, fatuous, and humorless, the streaming site's newest series is a grave miscalculation of what has made Game of Thrones, its obvious model, such a TV phenomenon. Marco Polo borrows from the HBO institution its most sensationalistic and/or problematic qualities -- its unforgiving violence, aggressive male gaze, exoticizing of non-Western cultures -- while neglecting the nuts and bolts that make Thrones great: its urgent plotting, vivid characterizations, and meticulous world-building.

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City of Miami Breaks Ground on Film Studio

Categories: News

Photo via Burn Notice
The city of Miami broke ground on a new film studio today. The Florida Film & Television Center will offer 70,000 square feet of studio space including two sound stages, an onsite editing suite and accessory storage room. The studio will be operated by EUE Screen Gems, a national production company that operates similar sites in New York, Georgia and North Carolina. The massive complex is meant to lure national and international production companies to the city's sunny shores.

Miami's Omni Community Redevelopment Agency gave final approval on the plan in March. The Agency has promised up to $11.5 million for construction of the studio which City of Miami Commissioner, Marc Sarnoff, hopes "will go a long way in securing Miami's status as a top destination for film and television production." The city also hopes the studio will bring more jobs to the area, something the Mayor and City Commissioners reiterated in today's groundbreaking.

See also: The Top Ten Movies Shot in Miami

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