MIAMI – There is a certain beauty in the portrayal of cinema, in being able to highlight the stories of people and places that are not often highlighted. For years, the Third Horizon Film Festival has offered these unique glimpses of Caribbean communities and their diaspora, through intimate and fun social gatherings. This year, things are looking a little different, with a mostly virtual event for their fifth edition. As their mission statement notes, the decision was made “in light of the precarious public health scenario in the Caribbean – as well as communities of color in the United States, so neglected in the recent tangle of statements and news. directives â.
But the move from a public space to a digital domain is welcome, with the 2021 film schedule becoming widely accessible to audiences around the world (with a few exceptions, geo-blocked in the United States or Florida). This extends their reach beyond the limited screenings in South Florida, giving everyone the chance to experience the festival’s offerings.
This year’s Third Horizon lineup offers yet another rewarding mix of feature and short film programming; a beautiful collection of documents that present a variety of individuals reflecting on their past, present and future. This is particularly evident in the book by SofÃa GallisÃ¡ Muriente Celaje (Cloudy landscapes), one of the most experimental and intriguing of the group. Opening up to a visual metaphor of rocks wearing out in the ground and then cementing themselves back into rock, the documentary cleverly establishes itself as a play about how our stories are cyclical.
Muriente’s film feels inspired by those of Chantal Akerman and has such a clear sense of humor; his visuals and his music come together to create a haunting and sentimental film. This I is as much about her grandmother’s memories and reality as it is about Puerto Rican history. The film, like the island itself, is constantly evolving, encircling its central themes: life and death, like beauty and disaster, are inextricably linked.
She-Paradise, the feature film by Maya Cozier, is a simple and traditional film, but no less interesting. This coming of age story is an intimately filmed film. The way the camera looks at constantly moving bodies is both respectful and engaging, especially in situations that many might perceive as overly sexual and humiliating. There is such an energy in how lead actor Onessa Nestor embodies this young woman’s journey to self-actualization, and whatever ups and downs come with it. It’s a film that understands the language, spoken and unspoken, that exists between black women in the spaces of their own creation as well as in those where men seek to control them.
Some of the shorts on Third Horizon’s lineup are just as rewarding as the feature films. Take that of Helen PeÃ±a When angels speak of love, a portrait of Sheshebazzar Bayne, a Miami woman mourning the loss of her sister while preparing for a new life. It’s lovely to see how PeÃ±a mixes slices of down-to-earth life with flashes of heightened aesthetics, from talking to her mother to portraying her as a mermaid.
On the other hand, that of Cai Thomas Queen is extremely realistic in the way it explores the life of a 73-year-old black lesbian looking to apply for New York’s first affordable LGBTQ senior housing development. Disguised as a portrait, the short is a subtle but scathing indictment of housing inequalities and how even the most inclusive efforts still succeed in excluding older people and people with disabilities.
History, sexuality and spirituality come together in the best short film of the festival: Vashni Korin’s You can’t stop the mind. Centered on the tradition of Baby Doll Mardi Gras masking, the short highlights a group of black women as they delve into the traditions they hold dear. Beyond its compelling showcase of gorgeous outfits, umbrellas, and dancing, the film is deeply moving in the way it allows these women to tell their stories. There is so much beauty in the rituals they perform, in the way they have built their own community, and in the way they embrace their identity while acknowledging the rich stories that came before them. It’s precisely this layered approach – featured in so many films this year – that makes Third Horizon and its lineup so necessary.
the 2021 Third Horizon Film Festival continues online and at various locations in Miami, Florida through July 1.