ARTLURKER

A Miami based contemporary art newsletter / blog

Aiden Dillard at The Borscht Film Festival

The Borscht Film Festival’s fourth annual event logo on Aiden Dillard as an angel.

The Borscht Film Festival’s fourth annual event will take place on the 26th and 27th of this month at the Tower Theater in Little Havana (1508 SW 8th Street). The Borscht Film Festival (est. 2005) is an annual exhibition of new works by emerging Miami filmmakers. Each year they reunite to share their work at an iconic Miami venue, surrounded by local artwork. The fourth annual festival’s theme is CCCV (Miami’s 305 area code in roman numerals), a celebration of Miami’s specific culture.

Opening night will feature the world premiere of “The CCCV Project” where 19 Miami artists from all artistic disciplines were commissioned to collaborate in the creation of 17 short films, each inspired by a different Miami neighborhood, as well as the honoring of Billy Corben (director of “Cocaine Cowboys”) with the first-ever Milton Garcia Award.

 

Mascot for the Milton Garcia Award

On the second night, in addition to the opening of the CCCV Gallery (featuring work by Miami based fine artists), a selection of short films (submitted by Miami based film makers) and a presentation of “Medicine for Melancholy” by Barry Jenkins, the world premiere of “Special Angelz,” (a film by Aiden Dillard starring Ted Vernon) will headline.

Flyer for World Premier of “Special Angels” incorporating “Special Angelz” cover art.

Miami based film maker Aiden Dillard who many may remember from his high profile filming of his fourth film “Death Print” during the vernissage of the exhibition “SCHADENFREUDE” in Miami’s Design District on October 11th, moved to Miami initially to get in touch with his Latin roots. Since arriving in South Florida his work has blossomed from relatively dogmatic forays to a categorically expansive oeuvre. Now drawing upon a host of influences from both the history of film and the diverse culture of Miami, Dillard’s films explore increasingly poignant and imperative themes. Employing an impressive cast of characters played mainly by local celebrities to act out his ever more astounding plot lines he is fast becoming one of Miami’s more prominent and most loved filmmakers. We interviewed Aiden Dillard to find out what direction he was heading in and how he and his films have found a new home in Miami:

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Your movies are kind of trash horror comedy. How would you describe your genre and the typical genre of your distributor, Troma Entertainment?

Thanks for asking. I would consider my movies to be trashy comedies that spoof different genres; not just the horror genre, as my third movie “Special Angelz” (2008) deals with the themes of a family movie, and my fourth work in progress “Death Print” (2009) spoofs the classic all-American action genre. The typical genre of film distributor Troma Entertainment, which released my first two movies “Meat Weed Madness” (2006) and “Meat Weed America” (2007), is definitely horror comedy, and so as I created these movies in tandem with Troma, they too were molded as horror comedies and bear the undeniable Troma stamp. However after making these two movies with Troma I felt myself becoming pigeonholed within the horror genre of boobs and blood, so I moved across the country to Miami and set out to discover a new framework of production and distribution for making movies that has led to the unexpected joys of making movies of different genres. My third movie, “Special Angelz” which is premiering at The Borscht Film Festival this Saturday December 27th at 11:30pm is the exact opposite of a horror movie.

This video preview of “Special Angelz” is also available here

This is my “feel good family movie”, which really does attempt to portray a world of light and love by showing two different families coping with autism. Yet a little bit of darkness is required to create a world of light and love, and I promise that this movie has a little bit of that as well as cynicism, which I dare to admit is even obvious within the title of the film. Aside from a wee bit of darkness, I promise that “Special Angelz” has just as much irrepressible absurdist humor as my “Meat Weed” movies, just on a more toned down family friendly level.

What leads you to make trashy comedies that spoof different genres?

I think that I developed a comic world-view as a child by learning to see the value of humor in facilitating communication with others. As I grew up I was taught to channel my humor into the arts, and so now I use filmmaking as a tool to depict irrational worlds where characters behave with great manias and events transpire illogically to express my own frustrations with existence in a socially acceptable mode of communication. As I create my crazy comedies, I have found that satirically attacking the mode of communication itself; the genre of films that we are accustomed to viewing, be them horror, family, or action movies, is a way of giving structure to my anger and allowing a cinema-educated moviegoer a key into the otherwise indecipherable maze of insanity that I spew upon the movie screen. There is an old-timey saying that “The Medium Is The Message”, and I think that obviously applies to my work as well. You can infer what my message is if my medium is trash.

Aiden Dillard’s movies

The market in Miami seems to be somewhat unconcerned with Arthouse Cinema and equally, despite its appearance, Miami seems to place comparatively little priority on the facilitation of big budget productions so what market are you appealing to?

My objective is to create movies within Miami that are professional and appeal to local audiences, while offering a quirky alternative to mainstream Hollywood productions that are also set here. Aside from the marketability of auteur theory, one of the main selling points of independent cinema has always been localism. I am very inspired by the incredible tropical beauty of South Florida, the mix of old world tradition and modern sophistication which is present in the arts, architecture, and social customs of Miami’s uniquely Latin and Caribbean influenced culture, and the existence of a real urban artistic bohemia. While my movies are not big budget Hollywood movies, they are still budgeted high enough to be professional High-Definition productions with some special effects, like the gun battles and explosions that we had in my newest work in progress “Death Print”. The movie that I am premiering at The Borscht Film Festival, “Special Angelz” is filled with stunning aerial shots taken from a helicopter of the beaches, bay, and skyline of Miami that I find so inspiring. Movies have always been a primary means of cultural export, and as I share my Miami movies with people all around the country, I hope to show them why I chose to make this land my home; here it is possible to go swimming 365 days a year and enjoy a multitude of cultural options!

Aiden Dillard directing “Special Angelz” in Little Haiti

In what kind of venues do you typically screen your movies?

Anywhere that will let me! I’ve screened at Troma’s Tromadance Film Festival that occurs in Salt Lake City Utah concurrent with the Sundance Film Festival. I screened “Meat Weed Madness” at The Wolfsonian Museum on South Beach during Art Basel 2006 as well as at the historic Great Hall of my alma mater Cooper Union in New York City, where Abe Lincoln delivered an anti-slavery speech 150 years ago. I showed “Meat Weed America” there too as well as at rock music clubs in my hometown of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and here in Miami at Churchill’s Pub last year during the Sweat Records re-opening, and also at the Off Island Art Basel Party hosted by George Sanchez-Calderon. Aside from the feature films, I have also enjoyed opportunities to show short videos in group gallery shows such as “Confluence” at Fredric Snitzer Gallery, “He-Men Woman Haters Club Presents The Boyz of Bazel” at Carol Jazzar Contemporary Art, and “Timeline” at 131 Projects. I was very thankful to also be included in the Optic Nerve X Video Fest at The Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami a couple of months ago.

Aiden Dillard promoting the film “Special Angelz”

What makes The Borscht Film Festival an appropriate venue for your movies?

I am thrilled to be premiering “Special Angelz” at The Borscht Film Festival this coming Saturday because my movie is a quirky angelic love letter to Miami in a festival that is dedicated to Miami. I have great respect for the young founders of this free film festival, and their ambition to bring attention to our city’s often overlooked local filmmakers. The ambitious “CCCV” project which they commissioned and is composed of 17 short films that each deal with a specific neighborhood in Miami is very exciting. I also look forward to seeing the two other feature films “Medicine For Melancholy”, “Pluto”, and all of the other short films, and the gallery of art submitted by Harumi Abe, Jen Stark, and Reiner Gamboa, and others. For more information go to www.borscht.info. I hope to see many ARTLURKER readers at the opening this Saturday December 27th at 11:30pm at The Tower Theater in Little Havana, 1508 SW 8th St. Miami, FL 33135.

Could you please describe the movie “Special Angelz” that you will be premiering at The Borscht Film Festival this Saturday December 27th at 11:30pm?

“Special Angelz” is a narrative fiction feature film, addressing autistic disability culture in the impoverished Miami neighborhood of Little Haiti. My intention in creating “Special Angelz” was to make a film that deals with a serious social issue of epidemic proportions, autism, while still entertaining audiences with thrilling drama and absurdist humor.

The plot of ‘Special Angelz’ is about how two families in Miami from different economic backgrounds deal with the decision on whether or not to send their autistic children Sarah and Dontrelle to the Victory School for Autism, while also dealing with a gangster named Ted. Here is my official extended synopsis for “Special Angelz”:

Today 1 out of every 166 children are born with autism… staggering odds, but only a small portion of these children can see angels, and even less find themselves in the crosshairs of a deadly gangster. This is the story of how those odds play out in the inner city of Miami, Florida as two families deal with a charismatic gangster named Ted, and the decision on whether or not to send their autistic children Sarah and Dontrelle to the Victory School for Autism. Sarah comes from a privileged home in Miami Beach but is bullied at school for being autistic. Dontrelle grew up largely homeless in Little Haiti until he was taken in by his sister’s boyfriend David. As little Dontrelle is kidnapped by the gangster Ted for ransom money owed by David, Sarah’s sister Christina tries to convince her stingy but loving hotelier father to send Sarah to a proper school, despite the stigma of being ‘special’. David must then search the mean streets of Little Haiti for Dontrelle, as Miguel deals with rejection by his older daughter and tries to bond with young Sarah on a fishing trip in the Florida Keys. Meanwhile the gangster Ted shows a soft side of his self and actually begins to appreciate Dontrelle while in his custody. David finally locates and confronts Ted to save Dontrelle, as Christina’s father Miguel grapples with his pride and shames Sarah’s bully tormentor, all under the watchful gaze of Dontrelle and Sarah’s special angel.

I promise that as “Hallmark-y” as this synopsis might sound though, this movie will be quite an odd trip! I’ve been preparing for the screening by shouting demented sermons at Aja Hancock’s “Of Sound and Vision” show during Art Basel and partying at the Fetish Factory parties dressed up as a demented golden angel. If you look close enough then you might see some red horns poking out beneath my halo [!]


Each night The Borscht Film Festival’s doors will open free to the public at 8:00pm. Films will be supplemented by free drinks and new visual works by emerging South Florida artists such as Harumi Abe, Reiner Gamboa and Jen Stark, among others.

The Borscht Film Festival’s line-up.

For more information about The Borscht Film Festival, or to find out more details on attending or submitting, visit www.borscht.info or email contact@borscht.info.

For more information about Aiden Dillard please visit www.aidendillard.com

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The Borscht Film Festival would like to apologize to anyone confused in regard to the appearance of the TM Sisters or live music performances. This information was released to the press but has since been corrected.

 

4 Comments

  • I wasn't there, but-

    It’s disappointing that Medicine for Melancholy was overlooked in this article. This is an incredible film whose writer/director was born and raised in Liberty City. It has achieved a well-deserved level of success any independent filmmaker would die to have. How typical of Miami that the truly great and thought-provoking work gets passed over and ignored while the mediocre and obscene is held up as an example of civic pride. No wonder Mr. Jenkins had to make his film in San Francisco. I’m thankful that the Borscht Festival is out there trying to bring some class to this city.

  • Alan DIpple

    Mediocre? Maybe… but obscene? Autistic kids who see angels?! “Class” is a dirty word. You don’t have to flee to the most liberal city on the Left Coast to make a “truly great and thought-provoking” movie. Let’s see a movie made on the front lines in Liberty City or Little Haiti for a change…

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Aiden Dillard at The Borscht Film Festival