Monday, March 26, 2012

rakontur: The First 10 years

rakontur sizzle reel

For years, when people got around to learning that I'd worked as a photojournalist in Miami for almost 30 years, among the first questions they would ask was: "Is there one book about Miami's that you would recommend?" Without hesitation, my answer was always the same: "The Corpse Had a Familiar Face" by Edna Buchanan.

A few years ago I started telling people they also needed to watch the 2006 documentary, Cocaine Cowboys, by filmmakers Billy Corben and Alfred Spellman.

If you are a regular reader of this blog then I don't have to explain who Billy Corben and Alfred Spellman are.

But, in a nutshell they are two 33-year old filmmakers, raised and schooled in Miami.

Friends from an early age and now professionally inseparable as Batman and Robin or Crockett and Tubbs, they are the dynamic duo of Miami documentary filmmakers. A little over 10 years ago they formed a film production company and named it "rakontur"...that's rakontur with a small "r."

Last year I described them like this: "They make movies about subjects that some people would rather forget."

Two of their films bear that out.

My favorite, Cocaine Cowboys tells the story the effects of the violent and bloody cocaine trade in 80s Miami. It's definitely not on the Chamber of Commerce's approved list of made-in-Miami films. Some have compared 80s Miami to 1940s Casablanca.

And to say that 2009's The U is "a film about a subject people would rather forget" would be a gross understatement.

Corben and Spellman set out to tell the story of the rise of the University of Miami's controversial football program in the 1980s. As I recounted last year, "when Corben and Spellman approached UM about doing the film, the school was so anxious to bury the past, the filmmakers were told by UM’s sports information director Mark Pray that they 'should rethink even doing this project.'"

While the pair are best known for Cowboys and the The U, they've also produced other films including a sequel to Cocaine Cowboys and 2011's Limelight, the story of Peter Gatien, the king of the 1980s New York City club scene.

And the Miami Herald's Rene Rodriguez reports that several other projects are "in the can" including a Cocaine Cowboys Remix, Cocaine Cowboys: Los Muchachos, the story of Sal Magluta and Willy Falcon, two of the biggest drug traffickers in South Florida history, and The Ponzi State, a look at corruption in Florida, from housing fraud to pill mills.

And that brings us to today.

All this week, Corben and Spellman and the rest of the rakontur family are celebrating rakontur's first ten years with a retrospective showing of four of their films at the O Cinema in Wynwood.

As I write this on Monday evening, they are in the midst of showing their first film, A Question of Consent, a documentary about a rape at a University of Florida frat house.

On Tuesday evening, March 27, they'll screen Cocaine Cowboys along with never-before-seen footage from the upcoming Cocaine Cowboys Remix. In attendance will be Cowboys cast members Edna Buchanan, Al Sunshine, and Sam Burstyn just to name a few.

The U and Square Grouper and will be shown on Wednesday and Thursday respectively.

The week closes out with a conversation with Billy and Alfred that's hosted by CBS Miami’s Jim DeFede.

Tickets for all remaining events this week are still available. Click here to read a detailed schedule and to purchase tickets. Doors will open at 6:30pm nightly. Film screenings will commence at 7:30pm. Panel discussions immediately after film.

(Footnote: I'm honored that Billy and Alfred have allowed me to participate in the retrospective. They've allowed me to show a few of the photographs I shot during the 1983 filming of Scarface on Ocean Drive. They'll be on display in the lobby of the O Cinema.)

1 comment:

  1. A book that encompasses all that is Miami? Try Miami Diary 1896, a day by day account of events that occurred the year Miami became a city. This slim volume mentions almost all the problems that have forever plagued Miami – foreigners overwhelming the community, race relations, tolerated illegal activities, etc.

    It was published in 1996 for the Miami Centennial, and includes excerpts from Mary Barr Munroe’s daily diary, as well as submissions from the Miami Daily Metropolis, The Miami Daily News, the Miami Herald, the Florida Times Union, the Daily Florida Citizen, and numerous personal private and published reminisces.


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