Bespoke cupcakes, made fresh and local for O Cinema by Iris from Cupcake World.
After a sneak peak in the form of Scissors and Glue: The Miami Project, during this past Art Basel Miami Beach, O Cinema, a non profit, cutting-edge independent cinema art house located in Miami’s Wynwood Arts District, is finally screening proper. The brainchild of Vivian Marthell and Kareem Tabsch, co-directors of Living Arts Trust, who were awarded a $400,000 grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to establish the cinema’s presence in the South Florida entertainment and arts marketplace, O Cinema specializes in showing first-run independent, foreign, art, and niche market films as well as being a visual and video art gallery.
For the past two nights O Cinema have screened their inaugural movie, Tina Malbry’s Mississippi Damned, and will again today, tonight and tomorrow from 1pm until 10pm at their theater on NW 29th street opposite the Rubell Family Collection. In the midst of their debugging, with the smell of fresh cupcakes in the air, and before their seats get completely stuckup with gum, Vivian and Kareem took time out to answer a few questions for us:
Speaking on behalf of your funding body, The Knight Foundation, why do you feel you were given the opportunity to create such a venue?
The Knight Arts Partnership was created to help fund creative ideas that transform the community. Ultimately we think that the real reason we were chosen for funding comes down to the fact that their has been a true need and hunger in the community for what O Cinema is bringing; a forum for indie, foreign, art and niche film in Miami’s urban core. The magic of movies can transform lives. It may sound corny and cliche but it’s true. The value of seeing stories like your own… whether from a neighboring state or a remote village across the world, can be an immensely powerful experience. So we think that the Knight Foundation gets that and want to help make it happen. Also, we’re hoping that the fact that we’re pretty and charming had something to do with it.
Can you summarize your 150 word grant application?
We obsessed over each and every one of those 150 words, but ultimately what it boiled down to was: ‘We want to bring amazing movies that otherwise wouldn’t be seen here to the epicenter of our amazing city. Please help’
Kareem and Vivian.
How does O Cinema differ from other South Floridian art house cinemas such as Miami Beach Cinematheque?
There are now five different indie cinemas in the Miami area. Each one of them great in their own right, but I definitely think that O Cinema is the funkiest place in town to watch a movie. From the handmade ceramic countertop concession by artist Carlos Alves, to the regularly curated art in our gallery space there is really something to see everywhere you look. Our dedicated monitoring art video gallery, our in house artist galleries and art boutiques all help make a visit here a sensory experience.
So that’s something that certainly sets us apart but also our geographic location and the audience that we draw set us apart. The Wynwood Arts District and our surrounding neighborhoods like the Design District, Midtown, the Upper East Side and Downtown cater to a younger audience, so what you’ll see at O are films that are reflective of that. Also, we’re in the midst of one of the largest and most important arts districts in the world, so with that comes a responsibility to showcase films that are not only international in scope but that push the artistic boundaries of the medium. So while you’ll see an array of different kind of films at O, you’re going to see programming that mirrors the uniqueness of our neighborhood and our crowd.
O Cinema, 90 NW 29th Street Miami, FL 33127.
With the various ‘film nights’ that have come and gone there is is obviously a market, but can you speak about the need in South Florida for art house cinema?
Both of us spend a lot of time traveling throughout the states and North America and every time we were in New York, LA, San Francisco or Toronto there would always be a whole slew of films playing that would never see the light of day back home in Miami. So we knew we had to do something to change that. The whole cannon of artistic expression has really come to its own in the city over the least decade in particular, but film has needed to catch up and thats what we wanted to do, provide a year round forum for great movies. So why is there a need? Because people like to see good movies in their own neighborhoods. Sometimes you’re in the mood to see the new Harry Potter film and sometimes you’re in the mood to see Jean Luc
Goddard… or better… discover the next Jean Luc Goddard in the making.
Still from Mississippi Damned.
Do you preference any specific genres?
I don’t know if we have a particular favorite but as we say our focus is indie, foreign, art, and niche films. We are pretty passionate people with very different tastes… so more than a specific genre you may see stuff that speak to us in its uniqueness. We like interesting topics that are dealt with in interesting ways… I think the films we’ve already showed or the ones we’ve schedules are a pretty good indicator of that… from movies about the Punk Islam scene and rural African-American families fighting a cycle of abuse to dark comedies about suicide bombers and their failed terrorists plots to a Scandinavian murderer on the road to reformation who turns into the unlikely town stud. There will be a little bit of everything at O…except for anything with Sylvester Stallone in it… unless its directed by David Lynch, and then we’ll consider it[.]
Remaining show times for this weekends film are as follows: