​Culture Concrete documentary gaining ground around Miami

Written By Josie Gulliksen
August 10, 2015 at 1:48 PM

​Culture Concrete documentary gaining ground around Miami

Using the shut down and graffiti-covered waterfront Miami Marine Stadium to film the documentary Culture Concrete was the perfect opportunity for Hattie Mae Williams and her Tattooed Ballerinas to showcase the shuttered venue.

Williams has been awarded the Knight Arts Challenge grant numerous times and decided to use her latest award to produce the film. It’s part of her motto which is clearly stated on her website. It says “The Tattooed Ballerinas an Interdisciplinary Dance Company. Re-claiming and Re-framing public spaces in our communities.”

Hattie Mae’s intentions when producing this film were deep-rooted in Miami’s cultural and history. She said:

“My hope was that this film would mark a moment in Miami’s history where artists and organizations were coming together to save a community space in the hopes of celebrating this historical site and all the activities that have passed through those walls and all the energy that is still being cultivated even though its abandoned. My intention for this film was for it to be a piece that is socially engaging in terms of people coming out to see the film, asking questions and getting involved with the possibility of saving this historical gem eventually to reclaim the Miami Marine Stadium and start using the space. Culture Concrete is a mirror to what is going on in Miami culturally, socially, artistically and politically.”

The film has been gaining traction around Miami starting out with a screening at LabMiami in Wynwood followed by a stint in Tigertail Miami’s ScreenDance Festival and finally being screened at O-Cinema in Wynwood which led into it being showcased on WLRN.

One has to wonder if this film might not be headed for a film festival sometime in the near future. Watching Williams and the other dancers from her troupe, who were outfitted in brightly colored leggings and tops, almost intentionally to match the equally colored graffiti throughout the stadium, was an exercise in site-specific work.

When asked why she chose to develop the work as a film she said “because the stadium is abandoned a live audience experience was too risky with all the liability issues. Also, as I develop my practice more I am interested in framing specific perspectives and locations for the audience and film is one way for me to explore this. Plus, there was the interest in documenting and having the film archived in various Miami preservation organizations. That was the main intention and what I imagined the film “living” in.”

It was important to Williams that the film live with a historic preservation group where people years to come can locate the film and “see a time and place at the Marine Stadium where a Movement happened in the efforts of reclaiming and saving the stadium from destruction through artful thinking,” she said.

They use every inch of the space in another intentional effort, this one to showcase the structure’s nooks and crannies as well as its massively open view and even the rainwater that forms puddles in certain spots. One sequence incorporates those puddles.

In the film’s description it says the “choreography tells the stories of the stadium’s opening day tragedy, narratives of the water, and stories heard from the community.”

The well-attended screening at O-Cinema in mid-July could mean bigger screens for this film and Kareem Tabsch, co-founder of O-Cinema is more than happy to contribute to the film’s success.

“I think Culture Concrete shows what a wonderful artist we have in Hattie Mae and how lucky Miami is to have her back here,” Tabsch said. “It’s imperative we all support our artists so they stay.”

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