Press Release

May 8, 2019

Five Miami stories get chance at becoming films as finalists for The Block – a new short documentary contest by Oolite Arts

MIAMI BEACH (May 8, 2019) – Telling stories from Liberty City, to Hialeah, to the waters off Coconut Grove, five Miami filmmakers today were named finalists in The Block, Oolite Arts’ new short documentary contest.

The finalists include both first-time and experienced filmmakers, looking to tell stories of the liveaboard boaters of Dinner Key Marina, a group of island teens living out climate change scenarios on Minecraft, and the cyclists who take to the streets in an act of resilience, defiance and community each Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

On May 18, the finalists will pitch their concepts in front of a jury of nationally recognized film professionals and a live studio audience for a chance at a share of $32,000 in funding for their projects. All five finalists will receive free access to footage in the Lynn and Louis Wolfson II Florida Moving Image Archives. The top three winners will receive help making their films from the University of Miami School of Communication’s Department of Cinema and Interactive Media. The Lynn and Louis Wolfson II Family Foundation is the lead sponsor for this program.

“Miami has no shortage of stories. With The Block, we want to further develop the pipeline of filmmakers to help share them with the rest of the world,” said Dennis Scholl, president and CEO of Oolite Arts, which for 35 years has helped grow the city’s visual arts community.

The live pitch event will take place Friday, May 18, 2019 at 7 p.m. at Silverspot Cinema, 300 S.E. Third St. #100, Miami, FL 33131.

The finalists are:

Ariana Hernández-Reguant, for “Seminola, Hialeah”

Every two years on a summer Saturday, the descendants of Seminola’s original settlers gather at the Hialeah neighborhood’s central green for Cotson Day, a celebration of community and history. Once a vibrant community of about 2,500 African Americans, the neighborhood has been decimated in recent years. The film will document this history, and follow past and current residents preparing for the big day.

Annik Adey-Babinski, for “Mooring”

For more than 30 years, 500-plus residents have called the mooring field and anchorage off Dinner Key Marina home. After monster storm Irma shredded docks and sank boats in 2017, landlubbing city officials left the community bobbing in disrepair. In “Mooring,” Mike and fellow liveaboards will reflect on the current state of the neighborhood and its storied past, and face the precarious future of their unique community.

Guadalupe Figueras, for “Isle of Mine”

What is it like to come of age on an island threatened by the effects of climate change? A group of Normandy Isle children explore their own future, by reconstructing an exact replica of their neighborhood on the gaming platform Minecraft. In this virtual world, the children rehearse future scenarios of climate change-induced disasters, in a telling re-enactment of their own trauma following Hurricane Irma. The mixed media documentary “Isle of Mine” will provide a way for them to express their feelings about the future, while imagining other possible solutions and outcomes for their hometown.

Dorian Munroe, for “These Kids This City”

This film is about the young people and infamous bike culture of Liberty City, showcased annually on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, when thousands flood the streets on their dirt bikes and four wheelers in an expression of rebellion and community. This movement has garnered national attention because of a hate crime that occurred earlier this year, during protests over the redevelopment of their lower-income housing.

Vincent Rives, for “El Afilador”

El Afilador – the knife sharpener – drives around the neighborhood in what appears to be an ice cream truck, complete with its own jingle. Yet a muffled voice blares from the speakerphone, offering the man’s services as a knife sharpener. To those not from the Westchester area, it sounds unusual. Why is this man sharpening knives in his truck? Locals know the man has brought a humble blue collar job from Cuba to the United States, and is, just like everyone else, trying to make a living.

In addition to the five finalists, the following filmmakers earned a special jury mention for their submissions, and will receive $1,000 for their projects: Daniel Rivero, Vanessa Charlot, Nicole Martinez, Alicia Edwards, Nadia Tahoun and Matthew Abad.

The Block is part of Oolite Arts’ new Cinematic Arts Program, which provides training and opportunities for local filmmakers, including a Cinematic Arts Residency which offers funding for filmmakers to make a microbudget narrative film.

“We are a city of storytellers, and our Cinematic Arts Program is helping our filmmakers further develop their skills. The Block helps fill a specific need in our filmmaking community, to support documentarians who want to tell true stories in a variety of ways,” said Jason Jeffers, manager for the Cinematic Arts Program.

For more information, visit


Established in 1984, Oolite Arts advances the knowledge and practice of contemporary visual arts and culture to an audience of approximately 80,000 people per year. Oolite Arts creates opportunities for experimentation and encourages the critical exchange of ideas through residencies, exhibitions, public programs, education and outreach. The residency programs include a Studio Residency Program, an International Exchange Program, a PRINTshop Residency Program, a Fellowship Program, a Cinematic Arts Residency and Art in Public Life Residency. Exhibitions and programs at Oolite Arts are made possible with the support of the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs and the Cultural Affairs Council; the Miami-Dade County Mayor and Board of County Commissioners; the Miami Beach Mayor and City Commissioners; the State of Florida, Florida Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs; the Florida Arts Council; the National Endowment for the Arts; and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. For more information, visit 


Marika Lynch, [email protected], 305-898-3595
Images and video available upon request