Two Miami-based filmmakers are heading north to Delray Beach in March for the 5th Annual Delray Beach Film Festival taking place March 22-28. Despite the plethora of film festivals in Miami, these two filmmakers have established an on-going relationship with one of the newest film festivals in South Florida.
Turning 5 this year, the Delray Beach Film Festival has gained momentum, put down roots, made a name for itself and become part of the cultural fabric of the city.
For the third year, Miami filmmakers, Susan Spinnato, (Shades of Green, a documentary describing environmental changes in South Florida) and Alyn Darnay (BarTicks…Then & Now, a comedy about 4 denizens who have been inhabiting a Tiki-Bar since 1997), both have films premiering at this year’s Festival.
Darnay, the owner and operator since 1991 of Chaos Films-Miami, creates all forms of film, from music videos to features. Spinnato has been the Executive Producer at WKLG Inc. for the past 3 years.
Michael Posner, the Founder and Director of the Delray Beach Film Festival says, “Although we have filmmakers coming from all over the world, we are proud to showcase our local talent and Miami-based filmmakers of this caliber.”
“Alyn is not only a talented filmmaker, actor and director but a scriptwriter as well. His scriptwriting workshops at the festival last year were very well attended. And Susan’s documentary films, while more niche-oriented, are always interesting, environmentally-themed and relevant to residents of South Florida.”
Says Darnay, author of The Script…A Breakthrough Guide To Scriptwriting, “I love film. Strangely enough my favorite all-time film is La belle et la bête (Beauty and The Beast), the remarkable 1946 film by French poet, artist and filmmaker Jean Cocteau. I never get tired of watching this film. It is the most innovative film of its time and that still holds true today.”
“I created my first film when I was 16 years old. I made a feature length film on Super-8 film with sound called The Wonderful World of Brother Grimm. It was about a psychopathic killer terrorizing the fashion industry. It screened first to my friends and later to people in the film industry in New York City and believe it or not from that first film I was lucky enough to get funding with which to make my next film.”
Darnay has been making films ever since.
Filmmakers and directors Darnay admires include Stanley Kubrick, Alfred Hitchcock, James Cameron, renowned Italian director Michelangelo Antonioni (known for his film Blow-Up), Federico Fellini, Ingmar Bergman, Woody Allen, the French filmmaker Jacques Tati, Quentin Tarantino and the lone woman in the group, Kathryn Bigalow, (most known for her 2008 film The Hurt Locker).
Spinnato came to filmmaking later in life. While she always had an interest in films, when she got married and had children she thought working in film was prohibitive, until she met Doug LaRue, the founder of WKLG in Miami and FM radio station STAR 102.1.
While working as the Program Director at the Gold Coast Railroad Museum, LaRue came in to film Ferdinand Magellan: the Presidential Pullman, a documentary which screened at the Delray Beach Film Festival in 2008.
The film is an award winning historical documentary which follows the creation of U.S. Car #1; the railroad car that transported Presidents Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Harry Truman safely throughout the country, in pre-Air Force One days.
Says Spinnato, “Becoming a filmmaker was a combination of luck, desire and good timing. While I was working at the museum, WKLG came there to film the Ferdinand Magellan exhibit. The timing was such that I was able to take part in the project. I was impressed with their work and commitment to local Miami issues and realized that I wanted to be part of their team. “
In an additional twist of fate, this year both Spinnato and her father, Alec Hirschfeld, also a filmmaker, have competing films in the ‘green-film’ category.
Spinnato was adopted at an early age and only met her father as an adult. She says, “I was sitting in my apartment one day in the West Village, and I decided “this is the day I will try to find my biological father.” I really can’t explain why that was the day – it just was. I leafed through the phone book and starting calling Hirschfelds.”
“Within 10 minutes, I was on the phone with my grandfather who gave me the number of my dad. My heart was beating full force and in my gut I knew we would meet. We met the next evening for dinner and have been in touch ever since.”
The coincidence is that her father, Alec Hirschfeld, is also a filmmaker and his short documentary film, Out Here in the Fields: The Field on Beach Lane, is competing with Spinnato’s film Shades of Green. Shades of Green is a documentary film describing environmental changes in South Florida as it takes the needed steps towards a sustainable future.
Hirschfeld’s documentary film explores the tension between old traditions and new realities on Eastern Long Island through the struggle to preserve a family farm stand.
Says Spinnato, “My goal with Shades of Green is to go beyond the typical “green film,” and offer insight into the complexities and interconnectedness of humankind’s impact on the environment, and how South Florida initiatives can make a difference and serve as a model to solve these problems.”
“I explore the relationship between land-use and transit to illustrate how foresight and wise-planning can play an integral role in energy conservation and efficiency.”
Spinnato, whose favorite film is The Girl in the Café (the small indie film by award-winning screenwriter Richard Curtis about a May-December romance with a political twist) says, “this film is a great example of how one person can make a difference.”
“It inspires me. Some viewers may consider it unremarkable. For me that is part of its charm. Though modest and unpretentious, big things can happen. I haven’t seen it in years, but for some reason, I can’t forget it. The Girl in the Café reminds me that one voice can change the world.”
The 5th Annual Delray Beach Film Festival runs from March 22-28. For schedule or info call 561.381.3212 or visit www.dbff.us.