“Miami is a famous city, but that fame is still left over from the 1980s: the Art Deco, the cocaine, the big boobs,” says Borscht Corp. founder Lucas Leyva. “That’s all still here, but we’re trying to talk about the other stuff.” Leyva and his creative partner, Jillian Mayer, spent the summer not only programming the ninth edition of their biannual Borscht Film Festival (its mission: “to redefine Miami in cinema and vice versa”) but also commissioning a slate of made-in-Miami short films, putting the finishing touches on their MTV digital series about the city’s surreal underbelly and developing Borscht’s first feature.
Borscht’s short films wormhole audiences into alternate universes in which coral reefs discuss hallucinatory dreams and Miami Heat star Chris Bosh must transcend space and time to save the world. The frenzied style of the films has made Miami the darling of the independent film world. In the last four years, Borscht premièred four shorts in competition at Sundance (including Yearbook, the 2014 Short Film Jury Award winner for animation) and nine films at the South by Southwest Music Conference and Festival and had a retrospective of its work at the Glasgow Film Festival.
“Miami’s film scene isn’t established like New York’s or L.A.’s,” says Mayer. “There isn’t a hierarchy you have to blast through or a culture of apprenticeship. If you have a project and can rally some friends, it’ll get done, and it can really surprise you.” borschtcorp.com.