Carry That Weight: A Rockumentary is a short subject of local interest. Filmed with an all Florida crew, this film is Brian J. Letten’s documentary about Mr. Burris, a music teacher at Miami Senior High School, who created Rock Ensemble. Diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in his third year of college, Mr. Burris taught music from his electric wheelchair.
As a short subject, the film ends and the viewer starts begging for more of the story. Fortunately, Letten is producing a full feature documentary and has earned the support of many of Mr. Burris’ Rock Ensemble students, many of whom are working in the entertainment field in Dade County.
While the re-teaming of Ivan Reitman and Diablo Cody for Tully is garnering most headlines this opening weekend, there are some unique motions pictures being screened, many of them from Latin America. In Spanish with English subtitles, April’s Daughter is a beautiful motion picture which presents dark gothic themes. The film opens with the sounds of people making love. A nude Valeria (Ana Valeria Becerril) emerges from the bedroom and we learn that she is seven months pregnant. Despite living with a matronly sister, Valeria is too immature to raise the baby and their mother April (Emma Suarez) comes to the rescue. Or does she? The strength of April’s Daughter is that character motivations drive this story, which echoes Sir Alfred Hitchcock’s later themes, including Spellbound, Vertigo and Marnie.
While the 90th Annual Academy Awards, which tanked in the ratings, has revealed a culture of smug narcissism, the recent films that I have seen at the Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival and Miami Film Festival have made me optimistic for the future of filmmaking. These independent filmmakers are presenting good stories, interesting characters and brilliant cinematography on a budget that cost less than Ashley Judd’s Oscar swag bag.