In an ongoing commitment to support Miami’s filmmaking ecosystem, Miami Dade College’s (MDC) Miami Film Festival and Oolite Arts have teamed up to launch Family Commissions. This initiative will provide a total of $120,000 to eight Miami-based filmmakers to create new short films responding to the theme “family.” The filmmakers 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.
The eight filmmakers selected to participate in Family Commissions are: Adrian Cardenas, Javier Labrador, Chris Molina, Frantzy Moreau, Michael J. Ruiz-Unger, Mariana Serrano, Rahe-wanitanama, and Randy Valdes.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.