Inspired by P.D. Eastman’s “Are You My Mother?”
Directed by Mayer\Leyva (Jillian Mayer and Lucas Leyva)
Pilot for “Creators on Creating,” a digital series in which artists share the best advice they’ve ever been given.
Directed by Nick Corirossi
Found footage from a mid-90’s Miami booty party.
#PostModem premiered at Sundance Film Festival and went on to play SXSW, NYFF, Rotterdam, New Zealand, Winterthur, AFI, and the Filmmaker Magazine Retrospective at MoMA.
#PostModem by Mayer\Leyva: "A comedic satirical sci-fi pop-musical based on the theories of Ray Kurzweil and other futurists. It’s the story of two Miami girls and how they deal with the technological singularity, as told through as series of cinematic tweets."
Life and Freaky Times of Uncle Luke
Directed by Jillian Mayer and Lucas Leyva
This film is part of the permanent collection at the Miami Art Museum. After premiering at Sundance in 2012, it went on to play several dozen other international festivals, including SXSW, BAMcinemafest, Los Angeles, Milan, AFI, and Maryland. Now it is yours to share!
“Uncle Luke is an incredibly original film, both in terms of its tone and the technique of its storytelling… Uncle Luke really taps into the popular culture of a specific generation, and it has a very healthy disrespect for convention and authority.” - Sundance Programmer
“Deep Dredge Opponents Release 'Battle for Biscayne Bay' Video” - Miami New Times
Chlorophyl (2011) dir: Barry Jenkins
Chlorophyl (yes, with one "L" at the end) was commissioned for Borscht 7 in 2011.
Borschtian Andrew Hevia made it his holy mission to get his fellow FSU alumni back to his hometown to make a spiritual follow-up of sorts to Medicine. Hevia put the project together, teaming Barry with local musician Millionyoung to create the short, which made some noise upon its initial premiere.
As Andrew tells it in a guest post about regional filmmaking for Filmmaker Magazine that year:
"When Barry Jenkins made Medicine for Melancholy and set it in San Francisco, he built a story around the location, using San Francisco as a character and a theme. Micah’s struggle for connection with Jo came from not only his longing to connect romantically, but also from his growing disconnect with the city. The film was outwardly about both of these things, and intertwined them throughout.
This thematic connection is key to successful regionalism — understanding the place before recreating it on film — studying its history and placing your story in context of the broader narrative of the environment and letting your characters exist within that space. It was Barry’s successful rendering of San Francisco that made him such an obvious choice for a Borscht project. Born in Miami, Barry brought the understanding of a native but with the emotional distance of an expatriate. He had grown up in the city and moved on — only to return years later and find that a new Miami has sprung up in his absence. To me, this meant that Barry was able to look at the city with new eyes.
The resulting short film is not Barry’s experience; it’s his exploration of a Miami that didn’t exist when he last lived here. Astonishingly, the city featured in the movie has existed for only about five years, if even that long. Miami’s development has been so rapid that most of our locations ± a re-purposed train station turned music venue, an elegant private art collection, a bombed out construction site and a swank new condo — all manifested after 2006."
Interestingly, in the two short years since this short premiered, some of the skylines and streets have already changed dramatically again. I hope that one day the Internet gifts us a supercut of moments in Barry's films where the latent motif of gentrification bubbles to the surface. Alas, you will have to follow those threads on your own for now.
Adventures of Christopher Bosh in the Multiverse
*Fantasia Film Festival
A zombie apocalypse unites a ragtag pack of dogs in the ruined streets of Miami. Immune to the epidemic, they must stick together to survive in the midst of ferocious undead and human survivors in this unauthorized sequel to "Homeward Bound." Sit. Stay. Play dead...
The film was a result of Andres and Diego Meza Valdes teaming up with Rachel Goodrich and Amigo the Devil as part of our filmmaker + musician collaboration series.
REINALDO ARENAS (2011) Dir: Lucas Leyva
Anyone who grew up near a coast has watched a fish die. Suffocation, brute force, by the knife – these are all roads to extinguishment upon this portion of the interspecies trough, whether for feeding or not. You saw it on the swirling reddish fiberglass deck of a wet boat, the fresh catch’s blood mixing with salt and water while leaking to holes in the stern near the looming presence of the outboard. Or perhaps it was cudgeled to death on a nameless brown dock with its guts dripping the sea worn planks down into the bay. Maybe you watched it die in a bucket or a cooler, breathing and pulsating desperately on its side, confined briefly (yet for that fish forever), to a terror ridden and ominous immovability. In all of these situations, the poor beast’s only defense is a flop, and only a small percentage of the time the impotent fish flop returns the creature to safety under the cresting waves. Typically, it does not.
If we anthropomorphize this, we get the oft-utilized analogy of a “fish out of water”. The most obvious usage being when it’s yelled at particularly elusive prey in the friendly poolside game of Marco Polo. Not surprisingly, there is never the word “CARTILAGINOUS” in front of the accusatory phrase “FISH OUT OF WATER.” A cartilaginous fish out of water is intensely unwieldy, and even dangerous. Cartilaginous fish typically refers to sharks, though rays and skates apply too. These are often seriously aggressive and dangerous animals to touch. A cartilaginous fish flop can have unpleasant consequences.
They all fall within the scientific classification of chondrichthyes, which are distinctive for having a jaw, chambered hearts, paired fins, and most importantly skeletons made of cartilage. One of greatest adaptations to life in the sea that chondrichthyes made is flexibility, which has helped them glide quietly through the depths for hundreds of millions of years. We always learned, quite awesomely, that the age of dinosaurs also knew the resiliency of sharks, giving us a link to a past long ago.
More recently, in the summer of 2009, one particular cartilaginous fish met it’s untimely demise, somewhere, and somehow, in downtown Miami. Two men, called “vagrants” in the news, dragged a five foot long nurse shark ostensibly out of Biscayne Bay, on to the MetroMover railway, and then around downtown Miami a bit before giving up on their quest. This moment was painted as cruel by the media and it was. There was evidence of torture; the majesty of a creature whose forebears once swam with plesiosaurs erased as it sat festering one night summer night on a Miami street, covered in bugs feeding on its fetid carcass.
So we come to the short and touchingly dark Reinaldo Arenas, a filmic retelling of that infamous moment in Miami’s intricate and habitually strange narrative. The film, produced by in 2010 for the Borscht Film Festival is named after a Cuban exile poet and depicts an old Cuban man, musing on his path as an ex-patriot. The subject matter is dark. It is a man expressing himself empty of meaning and confused by his place. He is first on an unnamed wharf, staring at the sea, lamenting his life and landscape. The poet, whose words the script are based on, first came to Miami, a place which was not fond of and often spoke harshly about.
The physical actor depicted in the short is actually filmmaker Lucas Leyva’s father, and the voice of the shark is Alberto Ibargüen, President anChief Executive Officer of the Knight Foundation, an organization that is the single largest funding arm of the Borscht Corporation and all of it’s own tentacles. The filmmaker’s father and the film festival’s symbolic father are the two main characters. It’s homage to Leyva’s childhood, and lifetime, those who brought him into this world and fostered his body and identity. Both men are Cuban.
Then, the Kraken comes out of the water. We see the old man on the train holding the shark, as if a bag of groceries, something that is feeding him yet we know it is the opposite. We find ourselves witnessing a completely ridiculous moment that once actually happened, but is now repurposed as a symbol of Cuban exile and a heavy weight to carry.
A landscape such as Miami requires a certain Camusian acceptance of the absurd. How can you live here when people treat life and nature sometimes with such flippancy and disrespect other than to shrug emptily and stare at...
continue reading this foreword by Nathaniel Sandler here: borschtcorp.tumblr.com/post/54481002488/reinaldo-arenas-2011-dir-lucas-leyva-reinaldo
*HBO Latino Film Festival
Duncan Skiles of Waverly Films and Andrew Zuchero of Greencard Pictures came down to Miami to collaborate with Otto von Schirach on this short as part of our filmmaker + musician series.
A modern adaptation of an Afro-Cuban Yoruba Religion (Santeria) myth, Miami bass legend Otto Von Schirach (playing the role of Chango, god of thunder) battles to keep an inter-dimensional creature (serpent god Damballah) from ruining his dinner date.
*Cinequest Film Festival
*Brooklyn Film Festival
*New Orleans Film Festival
*Incubate Netherlands Film Festival