2nd annual Subculture Film Festival brings 'reel revolution' back to West Palm Beach
The inaugural Subculture Film Festival last year in West Palm Beach billed itself as the “Reel Revolution” in Palm Beach County, showcasing local and international cinema — from eclectic music documentaries to underground scenes from the war in Ukraine.
It was an attempt to foster a more robust film community, one that tries to prevent talent from leaving the state for better opportunities.
The second annualSubculture Film Festival is trying to do the same.
It's focusing its wide-angle lens on tri-county filmmakers through stories about art, immigration, and film creativity. The themes serve as centerpieces for mixed-genre showings, ranging from animations and experimental films to short documentaries and feature films.
“We’re just exposing the audience to different cultures, different political issues, hoping it ignites some sort of curiosity for what's happening,” Noelia Solange, the new co-director and programmer, told WLRN. She said the festival is also "filling a void for aspiring filmmakers."
Solange and co-director Jose Jesus Zaragoza waded through hundreds of applicants before selecting 72 films for the three-day showings, Friday through Sunday at the Norton Museum of Art and at the Afflux Studios in the G-Star High School of the Arts.
The film festival will include live music, various workshops and panel discussions on the business of making film.
“It is to provide this platform where filmmakers from the tri-counties can come together and hopefully create future projects together,” Solange said. “That's really the ultimate vision.”
Palm Beach County Film Commissioner Michelle Hillery is scheduled to moderate the panel on “Women In Film."
Solange said their programming is intentional about curating workshops and films that challenge people and “that can resonate with everyone.”
The opening night film, Ask Her About The Art, the debut documentary by West Palm Beach native Karim Dakkon, kicks off the festival on Saturday during the Art After Darkprogram at Norton Museum of Art.
The verite style documentary follows West Palm Beach artist and curator Carol Strict and her family, Dakkon’s long-time neighbors, who collect prison art to showcase and humanize people serving time in person.
"Being forgotten is like being in the grave,” says artist Roger Pitts in the documentary. He’s a prisoner serving a life sentence for murder.
Strict sells their prison art at galleries around the country and transfers the profits back to the inmates so they can purchase art supplies and other resources.
“They still exist. They are somewhere,” Dakkon said. “But society has done such a good job of separating people we kind of forget that they are still human beings in a whole different world that we don't like to give any attention to.”
The film showing will be followed by a talkback session with Strict and Dakkon at Norton Museum along with a prison art exhibit inside the Korman room.
Themes about immigration make a strong presence in the festival.
Benediksyon//Bendicionis a “comparison about the role faith [plays] in both the immigrant process of becoming a citizen of the United States of America and leaving your home country,” said director Paolo Cesti, a first-generation Cuban-American from Miami.
“I think of my own parents and they both have a pretty astute connection with religion, with Christianity, Catholicism," said Cesti.
Cesti’s documentary, which means “blessing” in both Haitian creole and Spanish, probes that “religious structure” and the “connection between religious faith and the faith one must have in themselves to leave their home country.”
It follows two people migrating to Florida on “basis of faith”: Marcel, a Haitian priest who eventually built a church in Homestead. And Julio, a Guatemalan immigrant in Homestead who describes his harrowing story about finding his footing in the area.
Monarcas, by Peruvian immigrant and Miami-based filmmaker Diana Larrea, explores a similar human migration theme. Commissioned by Oolite's “Pass the Mic initiative, Larrea’s documentary navigates the day-in-the-life of two undocumented Guatemalan day laborers in Homestead who joined an advocacy organization to fight against wage theft in court.
The film is named after the migrating Monarch butterflies — "a symbol of migration because they don't need a visa to cross borders,” Larrea told WLRN.
Larrea, who actually raises butterflies, said migrants fighting their agricultural and construction bosses against wage theft go through a “personal transformation” and a “metamorphosis” because they have to “transform themselves just to know their rights.”
The film shows “the dignity and how much these guys have changed,” Larrea said. "Because they are leaders and they actually show other immigrants their rights.”
IF YOU GO:
WHEN: "Subculture Film Festival” in West Palm Beach runs from Friday, Oct. 20 through Sunday, October 22
WHERE: Norton Museum of Art and Afflux Studios at G-Star High School of the Arts