Directed by David Fenster
Documentary | 2017 | 56 min.

MDC’s Tower Theater Miami | Thursday, April 26 | 7:00 PM

Florida has long been famous for its wacky history, but Miami native and Miami Film Festival alumnus David Fenster turns that machine up to “11” with his delightfully off-kilter supernatural séance of a feature film, Opuntia.

West Florida’s St. Petersburg hosts a number of monuments, historic sites and preserves that reference Spanish explorer Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca, Pánfilo de Narváez and the native Tocobaga Indians they encountered upon landing in “La Florida” in April 1528 – exactly 490 years ago. It is the strange and surreal journey of Cabeza de Vaca (whose name means, literally, “head of a cow”) that Fenster explores in his hybrid documentary-fantasy, which premiered internationally at the Viennale 2017.

Having charged up the west coast of Florida on horseback, Cabeza de Vaca eventually set sail aboard a makeshift raft into the Gulf of Mexico and landed in present-day Texas and northern Mexico, where he continued to explore relations with native Americans he met on his journey. Over eight years, Cabeza de Vaca slowly transformed from a conquistador into a shamanic healer…and often relied on Opuntia, the prickly pear cactus, to survive.

Weaving spoken word lore, help from psychic Asher Hartman and the spirit of Cabeza de Vaca himself (as voiced by Goya-winning Spanish actor David Verdaguer, of Summer 1993), Opuntia mixes spectacularly beautiful photography with whimsical poetry as it meditates on our colonial past and a mystical sense of historic healing.

With the Miami premiere kicking off a multi-city tour that will screen Opuntia in a variety of venues over the path of Cabeza de Vaca’s legendary “New World” trail, director David Fenster will attend the screening and participate in what will surely be a lively conversation with the audience after the film.

This screening is complimentary to Miami Film Society members. Each member may claim up to two (2) tickets for this event. To claim your complimentary tickets or inquire about membership, please e-mail membership@miamifilmfestival.com.

Tickets may be purchased via MDC’s Tower Theater Miami: