Feb. 8, 2022
Miami Film Festival and Oolite Arts Debut New Partnership with Commission of Eight Miami Filmmakers to Create Short Films
The short film program titled “Family Commissions” will culminate with a screening of works-in-progress projects at Tower Theater Miami in summer 2022
MIAMI (February 8, 2022) – Miami Dade College’s (MDC) Miami Film Festival and Oolite Arts, a local nonprofit that supports visual and cinematic artists, have teamed up on a future-looking program titled “Family Commissions” that commissions eight Miami-based filmmakers to develop new short films using the theme family.
Co-funded by The Lynn and Louis Wolfson II Family Foundation, the selected filmmakers (see list below) will each receive a portion of $120,000 to produce an 8 to 12-minute film that is a narrative, a documentary, or a hybrid of both. They will have up to six months to work on their respective films, which will be presented as works-in-progress at MDC’s Tower Theater Miami in late-summer 2022.
“This is a pivotal moment in our festival’s nearly 40-year history. We have more homegrown films than ever before premiering at major film festivals, including our own,” said Jaie Laplante, Miami Film Festival’s executive director. “Our collaboration with Oolite Arts on the Family Commissions program is a chance for us to further highlight the talent we have right here in Miami. And since family means different things to different people, we are intrigued to see how these filmmakers interpret the theme in their work.”
In 2020, Oolite Arts launched its inaugural commission of short films, Close Quarters, which resulted in a micro-film festival featuring short works by 12 Miami filmmakers in quarantine. “Our first commissions program was a great success,” said Dennis Scholl, Oolite Arts’ president & CEO. “We are thrilled to expand and co-create this program with the Miami Film Festival through our largest commissions yet and to provide local filmmakers with a stage to share their work. Over the last few years, we have added a cinematics arts residency program to provide exceptional Miami-based filmmakers with the funds and space they need to develop their craft. This initiative further validates Oolite’s mission and support of local creatives.”
Meet the eight filmmakers who were chosen to participate in Miami Film Festival and Oolite Arts’ Family Commissions:
Adrian Cardenas is a Cuban-American writer/director and former Major League Baseball player. Cardenas has written, directed, edited, and shot films that have screened in top festivals, such as SXSW, Atlanta, Miami, and Palm Springs. Most recently, he was selected as a Marcie Bloom Fellow, a Sony Pictures Classics mentoring program designed to introduce up and coming filmmakers to the film industry.
Javier Labrador is a film director and cinematographer from Havana, Cuba. Labrador’s work has been screened at many of the world’s top film festivals including Toronto, Berlin, Rotterdam, Camerimage Festival in Poland, and the MoMA Documentary Fortnight. Several of his most notable credits include the feature films Santa & Andrés, The Extraordinary Journey of Celeste Garcia, Agosto and Hotel Nueva Isla, all of which premiered at Miami Film Festival.
Chris Molina is a Miami-based filmmaker whose work focuses on queer stories revolving self-reflection based on his personal experiences. Molina’s films have screened at festivals like Indie Grits, New Orleans Film Festival, and Florida Film Festival. He was also named a finalist for the Sundance Ignite Fellowship in both 2020 and 2021. In 2021, he was awarded a spot in Oolite Art’s Home and Away Residency, which sends Miami-based artists to Anderson Ranch Arts Center in Colorado.
Frantzy Moreau is an award-winning director, writer, actor, and filmmaker from Miami. Moreau is recognized for his acclaimed short films Piece, New Normal, and Inside which have been accepted to critically acclaimed and Oscar qualifying film festivals and ‘In A Lifetime’ which also aired on PBS. He has acted alongside names such as Jo Marie Payton (Family Matters) and Emmett Hunter (Atlanta FX).
Michael J. Ruiz-Unger is a filmmaker and comic book writer who grew up immersed in Miami’s punk scene. His short films have been accepted into film festivals including Fantasia Film Festival, Miami Short Film Festival, and the Brooklyn Short Film Festival. In 2017, he was chosen by CubaOne on a writer’s retreat set in Cuba, led by poet Richard Blanco and author Ruth Behar. His graphic novel, Dark Beach, is currently optioned for television.
Mariana Serrano is an emerging Latinx writer/director based in Miami. Her thesis film, Escapé, premiered at the 36th annual Miami Film Festival, where it earned an award for best actress in Miami Film Festival’s CinemaSlam competition. The film was also an official selection of the Filmgate Festival (Women Directors’ Month), Key West Film Festival and was showcased in the 2020 South Florida PBS Filmmaker Project S3. Her most recent film, Un Pequeño Corte, was selected as part of PBS’s The Latino Experience, which aired nationally, and is also featured in the upcoming 39th Miami Film Festival’s Knight Made in MIA Award competition.
Randy Valdes is a photographer and film director whose work has premiered at The Sheffield International Documentary Festival, Tribeca Film Festival, and SXSW FilmFest, and has been screened at Hot Docs – Film and Music Series, New York Latino Film Festival, San Francisco Latino Film Festival, ScreenDance Miami, and won best feature documentary at XicanIndie FilmFest. His first short film was acquired by HBO for national distribution and his second, Petra, won the Audience Award in the Miami Film Festival where it premiered.
Rahe-wanitanama is an Indigenous-Caribbean artist/filmmaker who is a mix of Yamaye Taíno and Maroon descent. Her work has screened at several respected cinematheques and libraries, including Tribeca Film Center, Anthology Film Archives, and DCTV.
The 39th edition of the Miami Film Festival is scheduled to take place in-person from March 4-13, 2022. For updates, visit miamifilmfestival.com and follow @MiamiFilmFestival on Facebook, @MiamiFilm on Instagram and @MiamiFilmFest on Twitter. #MiamiFF
About Miami Dade College’s Miami Film Festival
Miami Film Festival is an international film event that serves as a major film showcase for world cinema. Considered the preeminent film festival for highlighting Ibero-American cinema in the U.S, Miami Film Festival has become renowned for championing films made by the South Florida community, first-time feature filmmakers, and International Feature Film submissions to the Academy Awards. The annual Festival, produced and presented by Miami Dade College, attracts more than 60,000 audience members and more than 400 filmmakers, producers, talent, and industry professionals. Since 1984, the Festival has screened over 2,500 films from more than 75 countries and given out more than $2 million USD in cash awards to filmmakers and distributors. Miami Film Festival is the oldest major festival housed in a university or college and also operates a year-round art cinema, Tower Theater Miami and Miami Film Festival GEMS in November. For more information, visit miamifilmfestival.com or call 305-237-FILM (3456).
About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
Knight Foundation is a national foundation with strong local roots. We invest in journalism, in the arts, and in the success of cities where brothers John S. and James L. Knight once published newspapers. Our goal is to foster informed and engaged communities, which we believe are essential for a healthy democracy. For more information, visit knightfoundation.org.
About Oolite Arts
Oolite Arts helps Miami-based artists advance their careers and inspires the cultural community to engage with their work. Established in 1984, Oolite Arts is both a community and a resource, providing visual artists with the studio space, exhibition opportunities and financial support they need to experiment, grow and enrich the city. Through its educational programming, Oolite Arts helps Miamians learn about contemporary art and develop their own artistic skills.
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, Department of State, Division of Arts and Culture and the Florida Council on Arts and Culture; the National Endowment for the Arts; the Lynn and Louis Wolfson II Family Foundation; the Jorge M. Perez Family Foundation at the Miami Foundation and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. For more information, visit oolitearts.org. Follow @oolitearts on social media.