‘Florida Focus’ puts Miami filmmakers in the spotlight

‘Florida Focus’ puts Miami filmmakers in the spotlight

Billy Corben

Three Miami-based documentary filmmakers, already off to an impressive start, hope their participation in the “Florida Focus” programming at this year’s Miami International Film Festival will help them reach a wider audience.

Billy Corben’s movie, Dawg Fight, Carla Forte’s The Holders and Mark Moormann’s The Record Man will have their world premiere at the festival which runs from Mar. 6 through Mar. 11.

Billy Corben, a producer and director, known for Cocaine Cowboys (2006), Cocaine Cowboys 2 (2008) and Raw Deal: A Question of Consent (2001), began as a child actor.

“I had a friend who was on TV in a commercial and I was just mesmerized,” Corben said. “That got me interested in doing that and I was a working actor for awhile. In working with director Ron Howard on the movie Parenthood I was very excited by his career trajectory and he was my initial inspiration for getting behind the camera.”

Corben’s gritty documentary about the illicit world of South Florida’s backyard bare-knuckle fighting focuses on these men and their families and their part in the underground economy in a county where income disparity is the second highest in the nation.

‘Florida Focus’ puts Miami filmmakers in the spotlight

Carla Forte

“I feel like the take-away is that these men feel it is their best opportunity in life, to participate in these events, hopefully get discovered by a trainer or promoter who will parlay them into an opportunity to fight professionally,” Corben said.

He appreciates being in the MIFF because of its innovative approach.

“We haven’t even submitted this film to any other film festivals,” Corben said. “We wanted to have the world premiere at Miami. This is the first film that we’re self-distributing. We have in Jaie Laplante and Thom Powers some very forward thinking people who have their fingers on the pulse of where filmmaking is going.”

His next goals? Two Cocaine Cowboys sequels and a book he hopes to launch at the Miami International Book Fair later this year. Also dramatic adaptations of documentaries into series or feature films. The Dawg Fight premiere is on Mar. 12 at O Cinema, Miami Beach.

Carla Forte has performed in and directed Video-Art works like Interrupta, Imaginarium Life, Assassins for One Night, Staring at the Ceiling, among others, and has won awards. Her film The Holders is a contemporary documentary that she began directing in 2010 with the producer/director of photography Alexey Taran. It captures the story of abandoned dogs and cats at Miami- Dade County Animal Services.

“Throughout my career, I have discovered the need to incorporate in my images and script a message that promotes social consciousness,” Forte said . “As a humanist, I am passionate about the idea of being part of the change. It is for that reason that within my artistic production, I find it valid and valuable to present social issues that the spectator can identify with as a human being.”

‘Florida Focus’ puts Miami filmmakers in the spotlight

Mark Moormann

She appreciates the fact that the MIFF brings this social project to a wider audience, providing an opportunity to educate and raise awareness in the community. It fits well with her long range goals.

“My goals are generally to continue creating work that creates social impact and thus enabling a positive contribution to the community,”

Forte said. “It is a calling for compassion and respect for all sentient beings.”

The Holders will premiere Mar. 8 at O Cinema, Miami Beach and Mar.14 at the Tower Theater on SW Eighth Street.
Mark Moormann is a filmmaker whose documentary work includes the Grammynominated Tom Dowd & The Language Of Music, Blindsided (featured on HBO) and For Once In My Life, winner of the Audience Award at the SXSW Film Festival and an IDA Music Award.

His film, The Record Man, tells the story of how a group of musical underdogs with raw talent and diverse backgrounds, led by the indefatigable determination of one man, Henry Stone, exported the music of Miami to the world.

“I started making films at Florida State University,” said Moormann. “I was fortunate to study under Dr. Donald Ungurait, who started the renowned FSU film school. I came up as a camera assistant on movies and commercials, and kept shooting documentaries along the way, gaining a reputation as a solid cinema verite-style documentary cinematographer. This led to me producing and directing documentaries, concentrating on music-based subjects.”

Moormann said that with his film, The Record Man, about Henry Stone and the rise and fall of TK Records, he wants to shine a spotlight on the members of the TK family of artists, musicians and producers and preserve the legacy of what was “The Miami Sound.”

“It’s going to be very special for the artists, musicians and producers who made the music to be together at the film’s premiere,” Moormann said. “For us to be in one theater, for one night, and share the experience of watching this film together will be priceless.”

He plans to continue making films about people who’ve the earned the right to have their stories told, to preserve their legacy, especially this community. The Record Man premieres Mar. 10 at Regal South Beach Cinemas.

For information about the Miami International Film Festival visit www.miamifilmfestival.com or call 305- 237-FILM (3456).

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