Miami Underground Film Fest

Published on June 1st, 2018

The film industry barely exists in South Florida. Crews drop in and shoot lots of sunny exterior B-roll, but it’s a tiny subset that puts down stakes and works to establish this region on the larger cultural map. Georgia — Georgia! — is suddenly the center of all filmdom because Peach State lawmakers wrote somebody a tax break. But pretty, technicolor, open-canvas South Florida can barely rub together two Hollywood nickels.

Yet again, we must fend for ourselves. It’s okay — really, it’s fine. Whenever South Florida has needed anything, it makes do. And so arrives the first annual Miami Underground Film Festival, a.k.a., M.U.F.F.

“Our goal is to showcase the underground film scene and give some love to local art that might have otherwise been overlooked,” main festival organizer Andrew Schwartz tells PureHoney. “We don’t care if the filmmakers are total noobs or seasoned professionals — only that they’re from the 305 (or the 954) and they’ve made something worth watching.”

Low Tide Drive by Robert Requejo Ramos

Actor-director Schwartz is working on this with Ian Michael of Churchill’s Pub in Miami and arts journalist Chuck Livid, founder of With Churchill’s serving as the festival’s venue, Schwartz promises “live musical acts, guest speakers, and an irreverent awards show that skewers the usual ostentatiousness that comes with such circle-jerk affairs.”

Confirmed entries include Schwartz’s own pilot project, “Sunny City/Shady People,” and Robert Requejo Ramos’ Lynchian “Low Tide Drive” as well as animations, documentaries and “Troma-level schlock,” says Schwartz.

Born of necessity, M.U.F.F. is taking its inaugural dive with confidence. Blessed by the late local indie director Joel Sotolongo, who advised at the developmental stage, Schwartz and Co., believe they can turn some heads this way even if the film and television industrial complex seems to stop at Atlanta.

When Schwartz talks about screening his “Sunny City/Shady People” after years of working on it — “to finally be showing it to all the shady characters we know in the city we love,” he says — it’s a reminder that underground cinema has always been a love letter to its surroundings. And cinematic love letters are the best kind.

The Miami Underground Film Festival is June 23 at Churchillís in Miami. ~ Abel Folgar