Miami, Fla, USA
Borscht Corp. Retrospective
When: Feb 14: 8 PM
Where: Glasgow, Scotland
Info: Screening of a selection of Borscht shorts from our history at the Glasgow Film Festival
When: Feb 15: 8 PM
Where: Glasgow, Scotland
Info: Selections from the last three years of collaborations by Jillian Mayer and Lucas Leyva.
"Yearbook" and "The Coral Reef Are Dreaming Again" screening
When: Feb 21: 8 PM
Where: La Grande, Oregon
Info: "Yearbook" and "The Coral Reef Are Dreaming Again" screening at EOFF
Jillian Mayer Solo Show
When: Aug 17: 8 PM
Where: Salt Lake City, UT
Info: New works by Jillian Mayer!
Sundance New Frontier Flash Lab
When: Feb 15: 6 PM
Where: Miami, FL
Info: Bringing Sundance to Miami!
Call for Short Film Proposals!
When: Feb 01: 12 AM
#PostModem web release!
When: Mar 03: 6 AM
Info: Award-winning short film that premiered at Sundance
Borscht at Artopia
When: Feb 27: 6 PM
Where: Miami, FL
Info: Filmmakers Julian Yuri Rodriguez and Otto von Schirach nominated for Mastermind Awards
When: Mar 08: 8 PM
Where: Austin, TX
Info: "Yearbook" by Bernardo Britto in competition at SXSW!
C#CKFIGHT: THE RIDE
When: Feb 27: 6 PM
Where: Coral Gables Museum
Info: Julian Yuri Rodriguez's interactive experience
The Borscht Corp.
Borscht is an open-source collaborative dedicated to telling Miami stories.
Through commission grants, film production, web projects, myth-making, and idiosyncratic events (including the biannual Borscht Film Festival), we redefine the stereotypically insipid depiction of our city in the mainstream media.
Founded by members of the generation that came of age with the infant metropolis itself, Borscht hopes to articulate the voices of the New Miami.
We believe in interdisciplinary collaboration. We believe in regional filmmaking. We believe in Miami.
We also own a small Naval Armada and a trained shark (not cute, these are facts).
The video to the right, by Lindsay Scoggins, visualizes our battle cry.
The Borscht Film Festival is proud to be supported by a Arts Challenge Grant from John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to continue "forging the cinematic identity of Miami both locally and globally," in its mission to "redefine Miami in cinema and vice-versa."
The Borscht Corporation is a Miami-based non-profit that awards grants to local filmmakers and artists, throws events such as the biannual Borscht Film Festival, and facilitates the creation of films, music videos, web experiments, and trendzmedia projects.
Borscht Corp. strives to continue "forging the cinematic identity of Miami both locally and globally," in their mission to "redefine Miami in cinema and vice-versa."
Borscht has has facilitated the creation of several dozen films that have gone on to win Jury and Audience awards at international film festivals as well as Emmy and Telly Awards. The films have screened at hundreds of festivals around the world, including Sundance, Rotterdam, South by Southwest, Milan, AFI, Slamdance, New York, Los Angeles, New Zealand, Winterthur, Chicago festivals, as well as museums such as MoMA, New Orleans Contemporary, MAM, MoCA NoMi, and Guggenheim Museums in Venice, Bilbao, Berlin, and New York.
Online, their work has received millions of views and been featured on the Vimeo homepage as Short of the Week, Rolling Stone, Pitchfork, Vice, Stereogum and has been named to multiple year-end top ten lists, including IFC.
They have been called the “new faces of independent film” by Filmmaker Magazine, “idea-rich, imaginatively executed and drawing international acclaim” by Cool Hunting, “visionary and bold” by IndieFindsLA, “a freaky force to be reckoned with” by Hammer to Nail, and described as “making an impact across the filmmaking world” by Film Threat.
Beyond the creation of films, activities include throwing the biannual Borscht Film Festival, which has been called the “Miami’s alt-culture summit” as well as the “hippest, most eclectic and electric movie festival in South Florida” by the Miami Herald, and named “Miami’s Best Film Festival” by the New Times. The festival screens made-in-Miami films and regularly sells out the opera house and concert hall at the Adrienne Arsht Center.
Borscht is a beet soup from Eastern Europe. It also contains potatoes and sometimes meat. It can be served hot or cold, sometimes with a dollop of sour cream on the side.
Why not? You no longer need to be anywhere physically to communicate with anyone in the world, and the means of film production have been democratized to the point where you can create professional-quality work low sums of money that were previously unimaginable. Miami has an awesome community of young artists. Also, it's super weird.
What is your logo?
It is a Borschtoboros, our take on the ouroboros. Please watch the video to your right for more clarification.
What's the difference between Borscht Corp. and Borscht Film Festival?
There is none, really. Borscht Corporation is the name of the company that creates and commissions films, the Borscht Film Festival is the event we throw to screen them.
So who made all of videos on this nauseating website?
We helped facilitate the creation of all the videos on this website in some way. Sometimes we developed them from an idea to a final work, other times we just helped out with funding or resources.
Wait, so you are a collective? How many of there are you?
We are a loose, amorphous collaborative unit. Our numbers and members fluctuate depending on the time of year and projects we are developing.
Can anyone participate?
Yes! We are always looking for new filmmakers with an interest in making cool work in Miami. Check out our programs section for grant and production support opportunities.
Can I participate if I am not a filmmaker per se?
Yes! We are also looking volunteers in every position of production and organization. All you have to do is be down to work and at least moderately competent and email firstname.lastname@example.org. We end up commissioning or hiring a lot of our volunteers. We promise the work will also be at least interesting or fun.
In 2010 somewhere in the multiverse, Miami Heat power forward Chris Bosh donated 1% of his annual salary to the Borscht Film Festival. Since our name was stupid to begin with, we renamed ourselves in his honor.
Besides being good/interesting, are there any other qualifications for getting commissioned or screened?
You need to be living in, from, or inspired by Miami. Even if you are not currently living in Miami, you are eligible.
I hate Miami. Do the films need to reflect the city positively?
Not at all. We don't work for the tourism board, we just want fresh stories that engage the city somehow.
Can I submit a completed film to screen at Borscht?
Yes, the festival presents completed work alongside projects commissioned by Borscht Corp.
Does Borscht only support shorts?
So far all of our commissioned films have been short format or interactive, but we have screened features.
How many films will be produced and/or screened?
Borscht continues to expand its operations each year. The number of films produced and screened at each festival will vary along with several factors including: the quality of submissions received, the availability of funds for production, and thematic content of each presentation.
I'm super good at making movies, bro. Why was my film rejected?
Filmmakers can make an appointment to speak with us about any eligible project, even in the event that it is not accepted to the festival.
In 2003, a group of high school juniors at the New World School of the Arts high school in downtown Miami started an inter-disciplinary student film and art festival called "UnMinced."
The festival was a way for students studying different art forms to work together and display their work in a fun environment. There were two of these and they were popular.
The core of the UnMinced Festival graduated New World High School in 2005. Despite the majority of the students leaving Miami to study their art elsewhere, the young filmmakers continued to collaborate in the creation of short films during their winter and summer breaks in Miami.
Unfortunately, there was no infrastructure in place to support their development, nor were any local festivals interested in showcasing their work. The group of filmmakers founded the Borscht Film Festival as a way to showcase their work and provide structure to their collaborations.
It was conceived as a venue to share locally what they were learning nationally, continuing the spirit of collaboration and enriching the cultural soil from which they sprung while helping build upon their community. UnMinced morphed into Borscht.
In 2005, the students were inspired by films like The Five Obstructions and 9.11.01 challenged each other with specific obstructions in the creation of short films centered around a given theme. The 'commissioned' films, as well as other films submitted from the community, were premiered at the actual event.
The first Borscht Film Festival took place on December 30th, 2005 at the Miami Shores Performing Arts Theater, and celebrated its birth through the theme of death and destruction: Apocalypse. It was hosted by a fully-functional robot named Paris Hilton, and the event sold out.
None of the films were very good. This was Borscht 2.
Little is known about the 2006 Borscht Film Festival, other than the fact that the theme was Time. Adding to the mystery is ancient graffiti found in the Miami Circle reading "Borscht 2006 will return."
Borscht 2007: sp ace took place on August 2nd, 2007 at the Miami Museum of Science Planetarium. It was hosted by Ham the Chimp, and god, and encouraged audience members to bring sleeping bags and blankets to watch the films under the artificial stars. The event sold out.
The theme was sp ace, and again featured commissioned work by the group of young filmmakers, which had now expanded to include many more Miami transplants living in New York or elsewhere.
While most of the films were bizarre little projects, shorts like The Room by Andres & Diego Meza-Valdes, Blind Spot by Norah Solorzano and The Toners by Marco Ramirez went on to win awards and find success at other festivals.
The 2008 Borscht festival was held at the Tower Theater in Little Havana on December 26th and 27th, 2008 and was probably the first real Borscht Film Festival.
The CCCV Project (CCCV is the Roman numeral for 305) was created, where 16 filmmakers were commissioned to create 16 short films, each about a different Miami neighborhood. While there were still some stinkers, the majority of the films were watchable. The term "commission" was still being used symbolically- Borscht didn’t give anyone money and everyone worked for free.
The commissioned shorts screened alongside submissions from the increasing number of people making work down here- like Jen Stark and other local artists that were beginning to get recognized nationally (with Art Basel’s exponential growth, many locals were swept into the international art spotlight).
Miami Native Barry Jenkins had the local premiere of his film Medicine for Melancholy at this festival, and was the first feature ever screened at Borscht. Medicine for Melancholy went on to be released theatrically by IFC, was nominated for several Independent Spirit Awards, and named one of the top ten films of the year by the New York Times.
In the summer of 2009 most of the original filmmakers graduated college and moved back to Miami. They found Miami to be a very different city from when they left it, and found the community of young artists creating work in the city had expanded to the point where hundreds of submissions were received. Five films, each about a different Miami neighborhood, were commissioned as part of the CCCV Stories series, a continuation of 2008's CCCV Project.
The Borscht Film Festival took place at the Gusman Center in downtown Miami on November 28th, 2009, and over 1,800 showed up to pack the 1,600 seat house. Several hundred people were left without tickets, to the point where the free tickets were being scalped outside the door. By now some of the films were decent, and went on to screen at festivals such as Sundance, Cannes, Tribeca, and Clermont-Ferrand, as well as Guggenheim Museums all over the world.
The festival was named the "Best Film Festival in Miami" by the Miami New Times, and called "Miami's alt-culture summit" by the Miami Herald.
The Borscht Film Festival also became the only festival in the world to own a naval armada, in the form of two donated boats with which they challenge other festivals to battle on the high seas of Biscayne Bay. So far none have accepted this challenge.
In 2010, the Borscht Film Festival was awarded a Arts Challenge Grant by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. With a check finally coming in, Borscht was forced to open a bank account, and become somewhat legitimized.
The festival opened up shop in a 7,000 sq foot warehouse just outside of Wynwood, across the street from a castle. The space came with Sylvester the Katman, who had lived in the warehouse parking lot for the last 18 years.
The festival commissioned 15 short films and a video game, all of them collaborations between local and guest filmmakers and local musicians, creating the most exciting collection of young Miami talent ever. Borscht Corp. was officially incorporated, and oversaw the production of over 40 projects in 2011.
The main event took place on April 23rd at the Knight Concert Hall at the Adrienne Arsht Center, where the 15 shorts and other films from the community were shown. Despite charging admission for the first time, the 2,200-seat theater was filled to capacity and up to 500 people had to be turned away. 14 smaller events occurred between April 9th and 22nd, including a robot battle, a space launch, a rooftop pool screening, and screenings of features from other regional filmmakers. The festival had an overall attendance of over 11,000. This was Borscht 7.
The films themselves went on to make waves across the world, screening to acclaim in several dozen film festivals such as Sundance and SXSW (where four separate Borscht projects were screened in both 2012 and 2013). Videos that were posted online got millions of hits, and people were beginning to notice the work coming out of Miami.
Borscht 8 repeated the success of Borscht 7, but on a larger scale. More films than ever before were produced, and they were largely more ambitious then previous works. Events were expanded as well, both in number and attendance. More importantly, Borscht 8 saw the organization reaching out to other regional groups doing similar work and invited them to collaborate in hopes of creating a new decentralized creative network.
The office moved to a weird spanish mansion off Biscayne that had ghosts and no working showers. The main night of the festival took place at the Opera House at the Arsht Center (the biggest house we were ever in with a capacity of over 2,200), and made our fictional Bosh Film Festival a reality by throwing an event at the Miami Art Museum.
Just as Borscht is attempting to redefine cinema in Miami, we found there are lots of like-minded groups that are doing the same thing in cities all across the world. We invited them to come down and curate a 60-90 minute program showcasing their work, followed by some sort of interactive element, which included petting zoos, hypnotists, and drinking games.
The shorts we commissioned went on to screen at over 50 international festivals, and win over a dozen audience and jury awards.
Based on the success of this festival, Miami's independent film scene began to be recognized in national press and festivals. Several Borscht-specific programs and retrospectives were planned at venues like Dallas Contemporary, New Orleans Film Festival, Glasgow Film Festival, and Incubate Netherlands.
While the film community in Miami has come a long way, there is still much work to be done.
This year Borscht is starting several new programs and initiatives towards becoming more of a year-round organization while embarking on an ambitious slate of feature films.
We hope to continue growing both locallly and internationally so sign up for the mailing list to keep up to date!