Miami Beach Students Compete in Short Film Contest

Categories: Art, Culture
Underage but overly skilled with that camera.
​Finally, there's news about a Miami public high school that has nothing to do with declining literacy rates, murder, or decreased teacher pay. Last Wednesday night, Miami Beach Senior High and the Romance in a Can Film Festival held a showcase of student-made short films.  

We were astonished to hear Miami Beach Senior High actually has a film course as part of their Academy of Communication and Digital Media. (The future now seems a lot less bleak.) And from the talent shown on Wednesday night, Miami has a fighting chance to become a hotbed of film talent, a mission that's shared by the ladies and gents of the Borscht Film Festival.

NBC 6 reporter Jeff Burnside was supposed to host the competition, but he was an apparent no-show (rumors circulated about a hair malfunction and someone shouting "amateur hour" as they drove off). In his place, the young comedian Salomon Burstein was even given the unenviable task of improvising. When any host of an awards show bills himself as, "Alec Baldwin, but funny," the bar is set quite high. But you can't fault him for his bravery. 

The student shorts program, centered around the theme of "For the Love of," began with an impressive stop action short "Heart it Races." Produced by Briana Acelor and Raquel Fernandez, the tidy piece of animation showed an acute attention to detail.

The next standout film, "Grizzly Love" was one of three to receive a cash prize courtesy of the Miami Beach Rotary Club, featured a Halloween-esque teddy bear. The same stuffed animal became the night's Sir Laurence Olivier when he starred in the All Around Creative award-winning "Teddy: A Toy Drive for Haiti." The film was legitimately funny and arguably, the highlight of the night. Credit goes to the team of Karla Durango, Eric Jaffe, Enrico Matte, and Andrew Freedman for managing a tastefully done comedy with a lesbian joke in it, a feat that Hollywood is still trying to perfect.

MB student Andrew Freedman featured prominently throughout the night with credits in four of the 18 shorts screened. He also received special recognition for his work on the festival's production from Romance in a Can director Isabelle Lambert.
The final award winner was "Soil," a five-minute documentary about the school's relationship with an organization by the same name. Filmmaker Joshua Matz presented an eye-opening account of Soil's efforts to provide sustainable aide to Haiti.
When we spoke to Miami Beach High's film instructor Gina Cunningham after the event, she expressed how impressed she was by the students, especially considering that several of them were freshmen. At that age, many students are figuring out how to achieve as little as possible. But not at Beach High, thanks to the guiding hand of arts-loving teachers like Cunningham.

-- Brian Griffiths

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