After years of cultivating an independent film community in Miami, the Borscht Corporation has returned to Sundance with a bold new project. While they have previously come to the festival with assorted shorts, this time they’ve brought a feature-length anthology which explores the place many of these filmmakers call home, using it as a playground. The star of Omniboat: A Fast Boat Fantasia is a Top Gun Cigarette speedboat painted in bold colors, which already represents so much of what tourists and outsiders think of Miami. But in the hands of its 15 directors — Daniels, Hannah Fidell, Alexa Lim Haas, Lucas Leyva, Olivia Lloyd, Jillian Mayer, the Meza Brothers, Terence Nance, Brett Potter, Dylan Redford (whose grandfather Robert Redford makes a voice cameo), Xander Robin, Julian Yuri Rodriguez, and Celia Rowlson-Hall — Omniboat is anything but another travel brochure. It’s an exploration of Miami’s history, subcultures, and attraction to the unusual, as well as the myths and legends that predate the skyscrapers and luxury high rises.
Omniboat begins with a real estate presentation by a clueless businessman who, like many before him, wants to build a luxury condo on Miami’s crowded coastline. He proposes a building in the shape of a phallic-looking number 1 which features the gilded bones of a dinosaur out front. He wants to sell the hopes and dreams of the area to rich investors, invoking the tortured history of settlement in the South Florida swamps before it became a cosmopolitan jewel. The film then shifts its focus to the speed boat (which for most of the running time bears the name Lay’n Pipe) as it journeys through an onslaught of absurd stories, each referencing each other as they intersect or call back to past Borscht Corp events. The plots feature boat chases, a murderous boat, boat VR simulations, the baby of a boat and a monster truck, and more, digging at subjects like the economic recession, excess, different groups of people clashing and living together, local news, irresponsible reprobates, and explorers.
Watching Omniboat feels like tuning in to Adult Swim with a Florida makeover. An anarchic spirit melts together the bizarre, the tacky, misfit characters, and the purely nonsensical. The chapters vary in length and tone, aesthetics and punchlines. It is not designated which segment is the work of which director, adding to the chaos; one rolls into the next without any break or introduction. If you are familiar with any of the filmmakers’ previous work, you might be able to guess a few standouts, like Rowlson-Hall’s gorgeous post-hurricane modern dance number or Mayer’s hyperkinetic, internet-infused boat repair segment. Otherwise you’re just along for the ride, and hopefully the laughs.
With so many directors on board, Omniboat sometimes feels too heavy, slowed by the sheer amount of stories to tell and long jokes to play out. Some pieces are stronger than others, like when the boat makes its way to a group of Cubans stranded on an island, or how the movie continues to check in on the businessman’s fall from grace. Compare that to the meandering emptiness of a random sea monster attack, or an overlong drama in which a man in a VR simulation believes he’s a boat while researchers attempt to snap him out of it. But there’s something surprisingly earnest in Omniboat, even with the silly visuals like a boat giving birth to a baby boat or an alien hopping out of a human suit, or Florida-specific jokes like the mention of a President Marco Rubio, or a Florida-Man-tinged story of a woman sexually attracted to our star boat. The stories told about this region will not always be the ones to define it; not if more artists and filmmakers from there have anything to say about it.
Omniboat: A Fast Boat Fantasia premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and will continue to play festivals in the months to come.
The last few years at the museum have not been without controversy, and Decatur will inherit a record of workforce struggles.
Refugees of the Moria camp in Lesvos, Greece are behind the camera in the film Nothing About Us Without Us.
This adventurous theater festival returns in person with 36 artists and companies from nine countries performing at different venues across the city.
Helen Molesworth’s true-crime sensation marginalizes the artist’s life and legacy.
Members of NatSoc Florida performed the Nazi salute and chanted “Heil Hitler” at a local LGBTQ+ charity’s fundraiser in Lakeland.
Learn more about the New York-based, globally linked program and its upcoming discussions on art and society in the time of AI and data governance.
Nothing on the canvas wholly captures what it means to belong on land or at sea.
Dyson is part of a growing number of contemporary artists to imbue geometric abstraction with a sociopolitical dimension.
The program, along with recently announced visiting critics, will provide long term funding, promote access, and safeguard experimentation for future students of color.
In an exhibition that consists of mostly small-scale black and white works on paper, viewer engagement almost magically awakens the sleepy room.
Maria Maea’s All in Time continues an intergenerational conversation and exemplifies the artist’s process, not simply the finished pieces.
Koestler Arts works with incarcerated people and patients in secure mental health units, aiming to improve their lives through creativity.
Local artists and culture workers are wondering how the arena will impact the arts landscape, including museums and alternative spaces.