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It’s right there, he said. O, I said. Cinema? It’s easy to get lost in the jungle of Miami’s booming and ever-expanding performing arts scene. It’s a kaleidoscope of color, sound, movement and magic with so many spokes — performances staged here, there and everywhere — that it creates a problem: where next?

"Pieces" a film by Mateo Vengoechea

“Pieces” a film by Mateo Vengoechea.

O Cinema, of course. I’m embarrassed to admit that I’ve driven by O Cinema 100 times or more before I realized it was O Cinema. I read the sign, but it just didn’t register. It was a mirage — a space that existed only in my imagination — because I was expecting a giant cineplex with neon lights in front of a sidewalk littered with popcorn boxes and bitter Skittles. But, no, O Cinema is real, and next Wednesday, August 29th, O Cinema will feature four short films by a rising cadre of Miami-based filmmakers.

One of those filmmakers is a former student of mine: Mateo Vengoechea. His short film “Pieces” will debut at O, and it’s a strange and dramatic short that flows from the news about the health of the main character’s (Alan Morris’) daughter. Morris calls an old friend to help him keep his household together, and as a result his other daughter is kidnapped. Never trust old friends. In the end, fathers usually don’t react well when their kids are held hostage.

“The idea for ‘Pieces’ comes from that guilt of not being the best you can be,” Vengoechea said. “I hear you,” I responded back. “Whether for yourself or others, and once you choose to keep dealing with your troubles the same reckless way you always have, there’s a price to pay.” Sometimes that price can’t be calculated. Sometimes it can.

In “Pieces,” Vengoechea attempts to communicate the cost and consequences of guilt and, maybe even more importantly, shame through an intensely personal creative process. “I felt my creative impulse was always pushing me. I would write stories on an old typewriter; actually I would narrate them and my mom would type because I was about 4 years old and did not know how to type,” Vengoechea said. “From there on I read countless books and lived life; two tools essential for a filmmaker I believe.”

The explosion of Miami’s art scene didn’t come from outer space. It comes from moms and old typewriters, and it flourishes when people find their way to O Cinema to celebrate and support the birth of Miami’s next generation of filmmakers. So, get lost. Get out of the house. Head toward the quieter lights and Skittle-less spaces where Miami’s filmmakers find expression in less reckless and infinitely more creative ways.

The Miami Filmmakers Free Screenings takes place on Wednesday, August 29th at 7:20 p.m. and 9 p.m., at O Cinema, 90 NW 29th St., Miami; 305-571-9970. Admission is free.  For a full listing and synopsis of the other shorts, visit www.o-cinema.org/2012/08/miami-filmmakers-free-screenings.

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