Editor’s Note: With the Key Biscayne Film Festival on tap for this weekend, here is a story and podcast that ran originally in November.
The inaugural Key Biscayne Film Festival aims to create something unique from others of its kind: a celebration of the celluloid arts that captures life in coastal and island communities around the world.
It’s a rich tapestry to pull from as three billion people – about half of the world’s population – live within 125 miles of a coastline. With the subject of islands and oceans, the Key Biscayne Film Festival takes place Feb. 2 and 3.
“Whether you’re in Iceland, or whether you’re in Australia, or whether you’re in Cuba or Key Biscayne, there are a lot of similar themes that touch you,” said the festival’s co-founder Isabel Custer on the Anti-Social Podcast.
“We have been able to curate and find and receive submissions of really a huge variety from all over the world,” she said.
The festival will showcase the films by ocean, whether it be the Pacific, Atlantic, Indian. There will be at least one film from the Southern Ocean about Antarctica.
Maite Garrado Thornton, the other co-founder of the festival and speaking on Anti-Social, said she found that Key Biscayne residents were hungry for an event like the film festival. “The idea of bringing and growing our arts and cultural program on this island is so important,” she said.
Garrado Thornton is a veteran television journalist and producer, working at CNN, CNBC and WTVJ-TV in Miami.
“It was an idea that never sort of became anything only because I didn’t know how to make it happen. Film wasn’t necessarily my background. I’m in television,” she said.
Garrado Thornton sought out Culver after hearing she had directed, edited and produced feature documentaries, short films and even music videos. Culver loved the idea of the film festival and they have been gathering steam ever since.
They didn’t just want to be another film festival like the renowned festival in Miami. “We wanted to do something specific and entertaining and with a very wide audience,” Culver said.
The festival will have four categories. Films will compete in the best feature and best short film on the theme of islands and oceans. There will be a category for films that best spotlight Key Biscayne. And finally, there will be a youth category to encourage young filmmakers under the age of 21 to submit pieces that are less than five minutes long.
The festival held a workshop already at the Community Center in conjunction with Miami Film Lab. “So that the kids would feel more confident in being able to tell a story with their phone and just filming maybe one or two people and telling something entertaining.” Custer said.
Weather permitting, films will be shown at Paradise Park, as well as inside the Community Center. There will be a closing ceremony at the Ritz-Carlton’s Ponce de Leon ballroom to cap off the event on Saturday night, Feb. 3.
As the last entries come into the film festival, the emphasis now is finding sponsors for the event.
“We really would like to encourage Key Biscayners to come and join because it is something that’s for the island,” said Garrado Thornton. “We have so many residents that have been so successful in this industry.”
She said with the right support the film festival can be an annual event. “It’s an idea that has lots of legs and will grow into something really beautiful,” she said.