Miami Film Month Awards Video, Short Films
After a month’s worth of great deals for film buffs, the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau closed out its Miami Film Month, part of its wildly popular Temptations Program, with an event at the Little Haiti Cultural Center.
It was an opportunity to showcase the winners of the video contest alongside award-winning short films. In the latter category, the winners were: The Modern Man is Beat, written by Alex Merkin, directed by David J. Schroeder and starring Emmy Award-winning actor Jordi Villasuso; and Glove, directed by Alexa Haas.
Following the screening of those two short films, the video contest top three films were shown, with the grand prize winning entry going to Culinary Gems on the Other Side of the Bridge, written by Ashlee Thomas and directed by her business partner Bart Mervil. The two founded the organization MUCE (Miami Urban Contemporary Experience).
Through MUCE they present a series of pop-up art galleries around the city and host two festivals, Now or Neverland Art Fair and Soflowebfest during Art Basel weekend. Mervil has been featured at various film festivals, but Thomas has spent most of her time producing festivals and helping people find resources to fund their work.
“It was great being on the other side of the contest veil; seeing how the contestant commits to the project in hopes they’ve given it their all — scouting the other competition. It was such an insightful experience,” said Thomas.
They were told about the competition while taking a course with the multi-cultural tourism board and it was forwarded to a cohort, who suggested they take a go at the competition.
“As we work mainly in bringing the beauty of heritage neighborhoods to the forefront, we thought this would be a great opportunity for us to show off our favorite hidden places in Miami,” said Thomas.
They received the information on a Friday and went directly to work shooting Saturday morning, with a full night of editing and voice over. They walked into the restaurants and every owner was welcoming and willing to have them come in and feature culinary fare from their restaurant.
The experience was a great chance for them to step outside of their current creative spaces with MUCE and back into one’s they’ve occupied. “He went right into filming and editing and I into writing a story and bringing to life those restaurants that shape our community,” she said.
Winning $3,000 for their work was a shock and incredible surprise given that she herself had never entered a video contest before. She says “even though it said Ashlee Thomas on the check, it was totally a group effort led by my business partner Mervil. It really felt like what I think an Oscar win feels like,” she said.
Madeleine Paredes, Associate VP of Marketing & Creative Services for the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau, which handles the Temptations Program, summed it up saying, “In a delectable starring role, Miami’s multicultural culinary scene was vividly captured by grand prize winner Ashlee Thomas. As Greater Miami and the Beaches continues to become synonymous for hosting more than a dozen film festivals and serving as the backdrop for major motion pictures, it’s important for programs like Miami Film Month to engage and foster the local film community.”
See the grand prize winning film and all the other video contest entries here.