With the start of a new decade, a new challenge has gone out to all Florida film students, something like a reality show chef’s contest. In the case of the newly re-imagined Wolfson CinemaSlam Competition, the special ingredient that must be used in all filmmaking recipes this year is…archival footage from the world-famous Wolfson Moving Image Archives, headquartered in Miami.
Film students from all over the State of Florida were invited to submit projects that would incorporate archival footage in a thematically and stylistically meaningful way, with no minimum or maximum percentage of a film’s running time being made up of the archival footage. Programmers from Miami Film Festival reviewed all entries and selected 10 finalists, displaying a remarkable innovation in the use of archival material across narrative, documentary and experimental storytelling.
The 10 finalists, listed below, will be screened at the Wolfson CinemaSlam Screening & Awards Presentation on March 7. The program totals 2 hours, and the Awards Ceremony will immediately follow. A jury will award a $7,500 cash prize to one Grand Prize winner, and four runner-up prizes of $5,000 cash each. Additionally, up to 15 works-in-progress student film projects will be awarded grants of up to a total of $15,000, which will be announced at the screening, all courtesy of the Lynn and Lous Wolfson II Family Foundation. FilmFlorida will bestow an additional $500 cash Sara Fuller Scholarship Award to the Grand Prize winner.
The 10 finalists are:
Burning Down the Barriers (University of Miami, directed by Diego Waisman). Documentary, 17 min. The personal and professional struggles of the first female firefighter in Miami-Dade County and her historical experiences with gender inequality, and those of two female firefighters who joined the force in later years.
Caretaker (University of Miami, directed by Sam Wilder). Documentary, 8 min. Arthur Kennedy is a caretaker for historic Lincoln Memorial cemetery. While searching for his grandfather's grave, he finds love in the community around him and shines a light on significant people who were nearly lost to time.
Celestial (New York Film Academy, Miami Beach, directed by Bruklyn Miller). Narrative, 17 min. Nola Dubois, an intentionally standoffish girl, finds herself haunted by tragic and disturbing occurrences as she begins to unravel dark secrets about the church her parents have attended for years.
Dessert (New World School of the Arts, directed by Megan Tran) Experimental, 5 min. An experimental film encasing the use of image and found/self-recorded video with the strong theme of woman in mind.
The Garden (Eckerd College, St. Petersburg, directed by Michael Dayton). Experimental, 5 min. Are these whispers from the future, poems from the past, or revelations of the present, all projected onto the screen?
In Human Kind (Miami Dade College, directed by Juancho Rodríguez). Documentary, 15 min. An exposé on the realities of sex trafficking in South Florida through the lens of a survivor who experienced it all since an extremely tender age.
Metanoia (Miami Dade College, directed by Ashley De Grandy). Narrative/Experimental, 27 min. After exiting a rehab program, a hopeful young woman discovers that there is more to sobriety than kicking your addictions.
Michael (University of Miami, directed by Hua Tu & Jiaquan Zhou). Narrative, 7 min. Eric, a young writer, is plagued by feelings of indecision and insecurity as people around him react to the imminent arrival of Hurricane Michael.
The Senior’s Project (New World School of the Arts, directed by Alian Martinez Rives). Experimental, 5 min. While Senior college student Allan is researching and planning for his monumental art project installation, the hunting of a nearby location brings an unforeseen event to the project.
Wade in the Water: Drowning in Racism (University of Miami, directed by Cathleen Dean). Documentary, 14 min. An exploration of the ways segregation and racism affected the swimming culture of African Americans in Florida.
This year’s judges are:
Adriana Bosch, independent documentary filmmaker who has produced for PBS and American Experience, and whose newest film, Letters to Eloisa, world premieres at the 2020 Miami Film Festival.
Carluccio, a filmmaker, photographer and painter from Venezuela, director of short films “Nostalgia” and “Klein Blue”, who has been awarded by National YoungArts Cinematic Arts and Carnegie Hall’s National Silver Portfolio Medal from The Scholastics Art and Writing Awards.
Barron Sherer, a time-based media artist with a background in moving image archival practice and research, launched a Knight Foundation invested project, Moving Image Alliance in 2020.
Visit the Wolfson CinemaSlam Competition page to view past award winners. This program is sponsored by Lynn and Louis Wolfson II Family Foundation.