BORSCHT FILM FESTIVAL
Borscht makes movies in Miami and throws a festival unlike any other to showcase and celebrate these works. Comprised of epic experiences and immersive screenings, Borscht Film Festivals provide the highest level of curation for emerging voices working at the convergence of film, art, media, live performance, music and technology.
All new, original films are commissioned for our festival, which has been called "the weirdest film festival on the planet" (Indiewire) and "Miami's best film festival" (Miami New Times). A five-day, event, Borscht Film Festival is "a crazy experience like nothing else" (Indiewire) that has become "part of the city's cultural character" (Miami Herald) and "one of the biggest forces behind Miami's renaissance." (Huffington Post).
Uniquely, Borscht not only pioneers video and multimedia projects, but also creates site-specific contexts in which to showcase our works with an organizational budget a fraction of what similar-sized film festivals—who solely screen films in traditional theaters—operate with. These challenges inform the aesthetic of our work. Rather than trying to compete with big budget films and fancy festivals on their terms, we reimagine what these things could be, looking to Miami’s existing resources as inspiration. Our 2017 film festival alone exhibited 207 regional works by over 230 principal artists + 560 supporting artists at 30 unique and epic events across Miami over 5 days & nights with an audience reach of over 14 million.
BORSCHT FELLOWSHIP PROGRAM
Borscht’s fellowship program is devoted to cultivating new voices, cultural producers, and first-time filmmakers in South Florida from highschool forward. With a school system that doesn't recognize the unique needs created by our county’s large immigrant population, Miami holds one of the highest concentrations of highly segregated schools. Our fellowship program aims to combat these inequities, providing extended learning experiences and meaningful development opportunities that center South Florida’s diverse communities while re-motivating students who fail to thrive in traditional academic environments.
Intrinsic to our mission is the belief that the most impactful schooling doesn’t necessarily come from inside the doors of a classroom. Accordingly, Borscht’s fellowship program serves as a hands-on educational initiative designed for 360° development in film and grassroots operations management. Alongside the cultivation of a long-term film-related project helmed by each candidate, our program curriculum is rooted in experiential learning, ranging from infrastructure/ preproduction to production, event management, & post-production with the goal that by the end of the fellowship, fellows have enough experience and connections to run their own film sets, festivals, and other endeavors.
Borscht’s open call commissions provide funding and creative development for underrepresented voices to challenge boundaries in all forms of media: shorts, series, digital animation, interactive documentary, VR, AR, feature films, and more. Projects must be by artists from, living in, or inspired by Miami, or the work must engage the city in some capacity. By propagating narratives about the city locally and globally, Borscht increases civic pride while spurring dialogue about South Florida’s culture & identity.
Importantly, commission winners are given access to production offices; in-kind gear rental and production insurance; in-kind production labor and post-production support; consultations from filmmakers in the Borscht network; festival submission, travel, and marketing support; and the potential to screen through Borscht’s digital outlets with an audience reach of over 14 million.
Since 2011, Borscht commissions have generated an unprecedented run of success consisting of over 600 festival screenings worldwide (including Cannes, SXSW, and TIFF, as well as 17 projects across 8 consecutive years at Sundance); 75+ jury and audience awards; 50 million in online views; premieres in outlets such as The New Yorker, Vice, and MTV; exhibitions in dozens of art galleries and museums such as the Guggenheim and MoMA; and appearing on newspaper and magazine covers to establish “Borscht’s organizational methods as experimental and visionary as the work it produces.”
In 2016 Borscht launched the #NoBroZone grant program to reinforce creative and financial support for films and multimedia projects led by women. Founded upon on the simple idea that at no point in our process would a female filmmaker need to ask a man for permission to tell her story, the #NoBroZone gave way to ten short films and a virtual reality experience that have already gone on to play at Sundance, SXSW, and premiere in outlets like MoMa PS1, Artsy, and Hyperallergic.
Last year women made up 11% of all directors in the top 250 films. Numbers for independent filmmaking were only marginally better: 28% of indie directors in 2017 were women. As a regular fixture within Borscht’s open call for commissions, the #NoBroZone combats these institutional biases with funding and support for female-driven films that reflect the diversity of our community, ensuring resources and space for multicultural female narratives in independent film.
FIRST GENERATION VOICES
Borscht’s First Generation Voices program provides creative and financial support for films and multimedia projects led by emerging filmmakers whose parents were immigrants or who are immigrants themselves. Over the last two years this initiative has given way to 43 original works that have gone on to play at Sundance, SXSW, MoMa PS1, LAXART, and Perez Art Museum Miami. Combined, the producers and/or directors of each work represent a total of 18 different countries, including Cuba, Chile, Uruguay, Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, Iran, Jamaica, Brazil, Mexico, Haiti, Philippines, Colombia, Japan, and Syria.
Last year women made up 18% of all directors in the top 250 films. Racial representation was only marginally better: across the top 1,100 highest grossing movies between 2007 - 2017, only 1 Latina woman was hired as a director. Home to a population that identifies as 52% foreign-born, 68% Hispanic or Latino, and 19% Black or African American alongside an estimated half a million immigrants who are undocumented, Miami is home to a trove of stories that remain untold. Equipping selected filmmakers with funding, workshops, development sessions, and distribution assistance while also providing events and a global platform on which to share their works, Borscht’s First Generation Voices program bolsters the creation of film and transmedia projects helmed by first-generation artists.