A Sunny Place for Shady People: Bogart Film Festival Returns to UM

The Humphrey Bogart Film Noir Shorts Competition & Film Showcase returns to the University of Miami on Oct. 15 – 17 for its third annual student film competition. This year, for the first time, the competition is being expanded to all filmmakers, not just students. The fifth annual classic festival, which shows classic Bogart films, returns to Key Largo from Oct. 18 – 22. 

The portion of the festival that takes place at the Cosford Cinema came from Ruth Reitan’s thesis project while she was completing her M.F.A. at the School of Communication.

Richard Humphrey Bogart, the grandson of Humphrey Bogart, participates in the showcase every year as a judge and a host for the award show. He is a UM School of Law alumnus and although his background is not in film, he enjoys screenwriting.

“When you’re a graduate student here, at least at the law school, you can take credits in any school the University of Miami offers,” Bogart said. “I took a screenwriting course because my roommate was in the screenwriting program, so I kind of got inspired reading all his [my roomates] books in my free time.”

Another new addition to this year’s film festival is a script competition. According to Reitan, instead of screenwriting classes meeting in the classroom, they will meet in the Cosford and have a live stage table read of the six finalists. 

“The scriptwriters are really excited about that because they’re going to be getting written notes from our UM screenwriting professors and the students on what they liked, what they didn’t like,” she said. “So that’s an opportunity for writers to come and meet other filmmakers and maybe get their films made.”

Since the competition is no longer exclusive to students, only one-third of the 30 films being shown were made by students. Another third of the films are from overseas, and some of the filmmakers are coming from as far as France and Finland to attend the festival, according to Reitan.

UM student, Joseph Landing submitted his short film, “Project Godhand,” to the festival. In the short, lead character Gabriel Martinez discovers that he is in a false world, and he attempts to escape against the will of the tyrannical system that labels him a madman. Landing was heavily inspired by the movies “Pi” by Darren Afronosky and “The Matrix” by Lana and Lilly Wachowski.

The short falls into the neo-noir category of the festival, a genre of movies that are “contemporary, but still fit that noir tone of classic movies from [the] 40s and 50s.”

“Project Godhand is a dramatic thriller with many dark tones, twists, and turns that ooze the noir vibe,” Landing said.

He is overjoyed that his work made the cut.

“After hearing about the festival three years ago, I never would have thought a film of mine would soon be accepted into it,” he said.

The events from Oct. 15 – 17 are free for students.

“I think this is a really special event for students and I hope they do take advantage of it … because there aew very few venues to actually see short film noir content,” Reitan said.

Even after the damage of Hurricane Irma, the portion of the festival in Key Largo is still scheduled. Bogart said that the festival might actually help The Keys to rebuild.

“The Keys thrive so much on tourism and people coming down and spending money there. It’s a helpful thing that we’re going down there,” he said.

For more information, visit FilmNoirCompetition.org.