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Little Haiti fights off development in Monica Sorelle's first feature film

Monica Sorelle is a Haitian-American filmmaker from Miami and she is currently an artist in residence at Oolite Arts.
Monica Uszerowicz
Monica Sorelle is a Haitian-American filmmaker from Miami and she is currently an artist in residence at Oolite Arts.

As a kid, Monica Sorrelle used to write herself into stories.

She’d print out scripts from Saturday Night Live and bring them to school Monday. She’d act the skits out and direct her friends.

You could tell film school was in her future. And now, she’s written the story she sees around her in Little Haiti, the Miami neighborhood where she grew up.

Monica wrote and directed her first feature film, Mountains. It’s a story of a family in Little Haiti, being closed in on by development and gentrification. The father works in construction,tearing down the homes in his own neighborhood.

Monica saw her neighborhood being torn down in pieces and knew there was a story to tell there. Oolite Arts in Miami Beach awarded her a $50,000 grant to help make the film as part of their residency program.

She found actors and crew right here in South Florida. She shot the whole thing in Miami, and she treats Little Haiti as a character in the film — arguably the main character.

The movie’s on the festival circuit for now. It already won a special award at the Tribeca Film Festival.

Its immediacy speaks to what Monica sees going on outside our doors, and how art is her way of doing something about it.

On the Oct. 16 episode of Sundial, we spoke with Monica about making a feature film about her hometown in her hometown.

On Sundial's previous episode, we spoke with Ashlee K. Thomas, a local playwright about her musical The Busy Bees’ Great Adventure playing at the Arsht Center. It's about a group of bees on a quest to learn about the environmental crisis. Public schools worked together to build a whole curriculum around the show

Listen to Sundial Monday through Thursday on WLRN, 91.3 FM, live at 1 p.m., rebroadcast at 8 p.m. Missed a show? Find every episode of Sundial on your favorite podcast app, such as Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, and Spotify.

Carlos Frías is a bilingual writer, a journalist of more than 25 years and the author of an award-winning memoir published by Simon & Schuster.
Leslie Ovalle Atkinson is the former lead producer behind Sundial. As a multimedia producer, she also worked on visual and digital storytelling.
Elisa Baena is a former associate producer for Sundial.