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Keep It Reel

With all the hype that surrounds film festivals in South Florida, the little guys sometimes get lost in the shuffle. Sure, the Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach international film festivals receive plenty of well-deserved attention; the geography-specific fests (Italian, Central American, Cuban, and more) also get their fair share of plaudits. But below this level of foreign and independent movies lies a hidden underbelly of wholly unknown independent flicks.

The Reel Indie Film Festival tries to bring some of these unknowns to the public eye. Following a showing last Sunday at Tobacco Road in Miami, the festival comes to One Night Stan's in Hollywood Thursday at 8 p.m.

The festival features five shorts, "Gramaglia" by Los Angeles filmmakers Andrew Gurland and Huck Botko; "Love for $17.50" by Clive Saunders of the United Kingdom; "Beyond the Screams" from Chicago-based Martín Sorrondeguy; and two from Miami -- Chris Mischler's "F the Police" and Thomas Griffith's "Video Buddy 81."

The films vary widely in theme. Mischler's focuses on the whole Elián González fiasco but does so in an unusual way. The medical-company executive, who makes films as a hobby, was the sound operator on the 35 mm movie Rope Art, which screened July 12 at the New York International Independent Film and Video Festival in Los Angeles. He had a brand-new digital camera and a news badge prop left over from Rope Art. With those two items, he filmed police actions throughout the duration of Elián's brief stay in America. Ironically the sound operator failed to get any sound from his new camera and was left with 20 minutes of silent riot footage. Undaunted, he decided to set it to music. The result is an eye-opening look at how subtle changes in editing and music can make the exact same film footage tell opposite sides of the story. The moral here: The media lets you see exactly what they want you to see.

Meanwhile, up in the Windy City, Martín Sorrondeguy was documenting the world of Hispanic punk rock. It's a world he knows well: As the frontman for Latino punk band Los Crudos, the Uruguayan native was at the forefront of the movement in the 1990s. His hard-working band toured South, Central, and North America and, in true indie fashion, produced albums on its own label, Lengua Armada. "Beyond the Screams," having already screened at the Chicago and Euro underground festivals, is Sorrondeguy's take on the music, culture, and politics created by the movement.

The outsider's approach to each of these documentary works exemplifies the noble mission of the Reel Indie fest: to promote film created totally outside the corporate structure of the movie industry.

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Dan Sweeney
Contact: Dan Sweeney

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