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Trailer Watch: Ectotherms

Ectotherms is the feature debut of Miami-based filmmaker Monia Peña, and it mixes fiction, documentary, the Miami landscape and black metal. Peña was influenced, she writes, by Cuba’s “Imperfect Cinema and many derivations of realism,” by her collaborators as well as by the people she met along the way. The suitably mysterious trailer is above, and here’s the synopsis:

ECTOTHERMS: organisms that rely on external heat sources

When teenager Chelsey finds her grandmother dead, she knows life without the old Cuban woman who raised her will never be the same. So she skips school with her brother Cassidy and his friends, making their way across Miami to a Black Metal show, where she confesses her secret.

Ectotherms is a no-budget hybrid film featuring a non-professional cast and using their real lives and the places they inhabit to shape the scriptless story, traversing Miami’s island influences, brash punk scene, wild Everglades swamps, and the urban spaces in between.

This experiment in form gives an impression of Miami as it is lived, not aestheticized: a sultry city where family heritage, urban plight, and the unique landscape intersect to create a youth culture like no other in the world.

From Peña’s director’s statement:

A hybrid film, Ectotherms works at the edges of both narrative and documentary form, blurring the categorical distinction to the point of irrelevance. We came into the project with a scene outline and a collection of images and themes to explore but let the real lives of the non-professional cast and their interactions in real spaces determine the narrative.

Working with no budget was as much a material limitation as it was a critical engagement. We were more interested in finding the film that already existed within and around us than we were in imposing our ideas onto the project. We learned to become unattached to the movie we wanted to make and instead developed a higher sensitivity for the cinematic in our lives.

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