Indie Filmmaker Julian Yuri Rodriguez Takes on Miami International Film Festival
The grizzled profile of a man with an exaggerated scar running down his face appears in almost every ad for the Miami International Film Festival, on buses, at bus stops, and in print. The tagline reads, "Every Character Under the Sun." Oddly enough though, you won't be seeing this character at the festival, nor the man under the makeup, Yuri Rodriguez.
screencap via miamiinternationalfilmfestival.com
That awkward fact has led to an Internet clash between one of Miami's up-and-coming filmmakers, Julian Yuri Rodriguez, and its biggest cinematic festival that includes a controversial mock MIFF website and some serious social tension.
Rodriguez, the son of the man pictured, is a 25-year-old director behind the short film shot in 2012 which shows the scene of a sordid human "cockfight." In the last year, C#ckfight has screened at about 15 festivals, including Slamdance in Park City, Utah, and garnered awards, including a Masterminds grant for Rodriguez from Miami New Times at last month's Artopia event.
The photo at the heart of the dispute was shot by Shanya Batya on October 20, 2012, at Eve Nightclub in Miami, at (or near, depending on whom you ask) the filming of C#ckfight.
Both Batya and Rodriguez agree it started with a few friendly on-set photographs, "for the love of film," as Batya says. Rodriguez admits, "There was no discussion of where the photos would go, no paperwork."
They had agreed at the time that she would put them on her blog, and he could use them for promotion. When he found out that Batya had sold this portrait of his father to MIFF for their campaign, he was initially elated.
"That was awesome, it was weird, extremely weird that they were going to use a character from my movie as their poster, but I found it funny. So I was repping it super hard," he says. "I'm seeing my dad all over the city. It's awesome."
Though he claims to still be happy with the image, Rodriguez began to feel taken advantage of when neither the festival nor Batya credited his film as the source for the picture. Despite the fact that the elder Rodriguez was still wearing the makeup from his role in C#ckfight, they contend it's not a photo of Rodriguez's character, but rather a portrait of his father.