What If Miami Didn’t Have a Film Festival?
February 24, 2017
Similar question: What if Miami didn’t have Art Basel?
Art, music, film–all of these creative pillars host a turnkey celebration featuring their best and brightest every year in Miami. From Miami Music Week and Winter Music Conference, to Art Basel, and next weekend’s Miami Film Festival, every local knows how swiftly the city changes during their occurrence…and not just because of traffic.
It’s like the entire city is peacocking. Every venue, every gallery, every theater is putting on their very best, brimming with immensely skilled content that, for whatever reason, our city has the honor to host. And that’s a beautiful thing, to get to see your city be as beautiful as ever. Do you know how many cities in the world there are? Narrow that down, how many of those cities pop into your head when you hear the words “world class”? And out of those, can you believe that Miami is one of the handful of towns that have their very own international film festival? We may all think our city needs a lot of things to better itself, but the fact that we have something so culturally monumental is a testament to how powerful Miami can be. And even more importantly, how valuable outsiders consider it to be.
As locals, we may take these gargantuan festivals and week-long art celebrations for granted, but if we didn’t have them, we’d just be another beach and shopping-led tourist trap on the map. But thanks to pillars like the Miami Film Festival, we’re eons ahead culturally and intellectually. If that’s not something that gives you pride as a resident or even as a curious traveler interested in learning the real lay of the land, I don’t know what will.
Of course, things like the Miami Film Festival, opening March 3rd and running until the 12th, make the city’s eyes shine in terms of tourism and hospitality. What with the influx of international film buffs and the world’s cultural elite using the week-long cinema celebration as an excuse to escape their uncomfortable weather. But also think that this same group of people is coming to Miami not to spend days under the sun or get a yacht-driven music video in, they’re coming to experience some of the world’s best films and associating haute culture with our city. Thus redefining its presence, slowly but surely.
It can get comfortable to complain about how nothing changes or nothing happens in your hometown. Believe me, I speak from experience. But having something like a world-renown film festival in my own backyard has helped shape my true understanding of this city. It may have lightyears to go in many respects, but having these international festivals leads me to believe that outsiders see the potential in Miami the same way those of us who work every day to raise the quality of life and culture here do. Having something like the Miami Film Festival makes me feel less alone in my beliefs. And I can’t even imagine how lonely I’d feel without it.
But here’s the thing. These festivals aren’t here to stay forever. Yes, they’re a cash-cow for whoever reaps the financial benefits, but like everything in any creative industry, success relies on having an audience. In other words: they exist because of your support. Without it, they’d pack their bags and call another coastal town their new home. We’ve seen it before and it can most definitely happen again. If we keep losing these chances, we’re only feeding the stereotype that has been built about this city, when these very festivals are our most powerful ammunition to fight it.
Close your eyes and think of the things that make you proud to live in Miami. Yeah, the beach is great and the nightlife is fun, but I mean really and truly proud. More often than not, your answer leads to one word: culture. But culture isn’t always a geographical term, it’s a representation of how we express ourselves as people; through food, music, dance, art, and even film. Without these reservoirs for expression and appreciation, where would we be? If something like the Miami Film Festival didn’t exist, what then would you have left to be proud of?