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Jason Jeffers, one of the founders of the Third Horizon Film Festival ( 📸 : Courtesy of Jason Jeffers)

'IT'S NOT JUST A RUM-SOAKED PARADISE'

Jason Jeffers is on a mission to show that the Caribbean is more than rum, white sand beaches, turquoise seas, and good music.

The filmmaker, writer, and musician born and raised in Barbados is one of the founders of Third Horizon, a collective of Caribbean creatives based here in Miami, and the Third Horizon Film Festival, which showcases the best in film from the Caribbean and its diaspora.

He came to Miami 20 years ago to go to FIU and worked as a reporter and writer for several years, but after losing a job, he took a leap of faith and headed to Haiti to film a passion project. That’s when Third Horizon really began taking off.

We talked to Jason about giving voice to authentic stories from the Caribbean and what it took to get there.

HOW HE GOT STARTED

About six years ago, Jason was a ghostwriter for self-help and holistic health authors and managing an author’s website. After a breakup and losing his job, he took kind of a crazy gamble after spotting a video on Reddit of two men in Haiti fencing with machetes.

“I’d always been taken with the iconography of the machete. Everyone has fight machetes at home. It’s a tool, it’s a means of self defense… I always called it the excalibur of the Caribbean…. It’s whatever you need it to be. It’s always been this symbol of empowerment.

So, I see two men fencing on Reddit in my bathrobe, no job, no girlfriend, and I thought to myself, “If there’s ever a time in my life to go to Haiti and learn how to fence with a machete, it’s right now.”

So Jason booked a ticket to Haiti with friend and filmmaker Jon Kane, who directed what became a 12-minute film called Papa Machete. Jason wrote and produced it.

“It felt like the stupidest thing I’ve ever done in my life… but it was magic…. It was a spiritual experience that completely and utterly changed my life,” he said.

WHY THIRD HORIZON IS NEEDED

Jason and Jon faced nonstop rejection when they first started shopping their film around. But then the film got selected for the Toronto International Film Festival. Papa Machete premiered there in September 2014.

The initial rejections, coupled with shallow conversations about the Caribbean in Q&As on the film circuit, birthed the idea of Third Horizon as a festival. In December 2014, they got a grant from the Knight Foundation to launch the first Third Horizon Film Festival, which they held in 2016.

“When we weren’t getting in, we kept thinking that people just don’t get why the Caribbean is important. They just see it as rum-soaked paradise and jerk chicken on the beach, these visions of paradise and exoticism. That’s there, but it’s so much more, it goes so much deeper,” Jason says.

THE MOVIES HE RECOMMENDS TO BETTER UNDERSTAND THE CARIBBEAN

  • The Stuart Hall Project – It’s about one of the fathers of cultural studies, who was one of the first people to explore ideas of representation, Jason says.
  • The House on Coco Road Director Damani Baker grew up in Oakland, but his mother moved the family to Grenada, which was undergoing a peaceful Communist revolution at the time. The U.S. invaded, and this documentary is about the fallout of that.

They screened both of these films at the first Third Horizon Film Festival.

WHERE HE GOES TO FEEL INSPIRED

  • The Everglades – “As much as I love this crazy carnival of a city we have here, city life wears me down. I need to be in nature.… If it’s a weekday and I can’t go the Everglades, I go to a place like Greynolds Park.
  • The library – “We also have an amazing library system. I feel like the people in this city don’t appreciate our library system as much as they should.”
  • Seven Seas Karaoke – Jason calls this spot the “true mecca” of South Florida karaoke. ”I’ve completely been neglecting my musicianship. And I’m a singer. Karaoke is a really slummy way of doing it, but it gives me the fix that I need to just get on stage and belt out.”

Head to thenewtropic.com to read more about what Jason’s most proud of and who he’s fanboying over. The third Third Horizon Film Festival is this fall. You’ll find details here as the date approaches.

WHO YOU GONNA CALL?

Since 1935, the Colony Theatre has hosted the finest in art and entertainment, welcomed home World War II soldiers, and, according to some, has ghosts. Yeah. Ghosts. We sat around the campfire with our friends at Miami New Drama to get all the chilling details. Check out what we learned.  

Today the theatre wants to give a platform to the voices and conversations heard around Miami. See how it’s using 140 characters better than any Russian bot.

PRODUCED BY THE NEW TROPIC CREATIVE STUDIO WITH LINCOLN ROAD BUSINESS IMPROVEMENT DISTRICT

WHAT’S NEW IN THE 305

#FamiliesBelongTogether. Thousands took to the streets Saturday across the country to protest the Trump administration’s policy of separating undocumented immigrant families at the border and call for already-separated families to be reunited. In Miami, hundreds of protesters marched through downtown chanting that “Families Belong Together.” Last week protestors marched to the Homestead shelter, one of three local facilities where some of those unaccompanied children are being held. (Miami Herald)

Iguana, it’s what’s for dinner? Iguanas are a delicacy for a lot of folks in our Caribbean community – it’s even called “pollo de los árboles,” or “chicken of the trees” on some islands – and with the green reptiles taking over South Florida, at least a few people are turning to tasty solutions. PSA: If you decide to try eating one, though, keep in mind that they could be poisoned because the invasive species has been runnin’ wild. (Sun Sentinel)

Radical on sea level rise. Residents of Bay Homes Drive in Coconut Grove have grown so tired of water pooling up when there’s heavy rain and sunny day flooding that they’re taking matters into their own hands. The residents teamed up with an architect and urban planner to draft their own micro resiliency plan that could include installing their own small sewage treatment plan, replacing aging septic tanks, and replacing the current road with a material that would help water flow more easily. Not all of it is even legal (yet), but it’s sure got people thinking.  (Miami Herald)

A major league loss. The Homestead Sports Complex was once poised to be SoFlo’s home for spring training baseball, but, like so many things, Hurricane Andrew ruined those plans. After years of trying to revive it by using it as a training ground for free agent baseball players, or a home for a youth league sports league, and even as the city’s police station, the complex might be torn down soon. Homestead leaders will discuss the plans for the complex later this month. (Miami Herald)

Bad medicine. Prosecutors are cracking down on about 600 doctors, nurses, and other medical staff nationwide – and 124 here in South Florida – for health care fraud that helped fuel the opioid crisis. Much of that fraud – including collecting kickbacks and recruiting patients – happened in “sober homes” where addicts went to recover. Instead, many of them ended up back at square one. (WLRN)

Building blocks. Eight empty lots  in North Beach are primed to become whatever residents and urban planners can dream up. The so-called West Lots along Collins Avenue between 79th and 87th Streets have been sitting there unused for years, but now they could become home to anything from a park that could help soak up seawater, to a small hotel and market, to a parking garage. (Miami Herald)

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BULLETIN BOARD

💻 Coding bootcamp LaunchCode has a free bootcamp coming up. It kicks off July 23, and will be two nights a week for seven months at the Little Haiti Cultural Center. There are 150 spots, and they’re taking applications through July 15. Want to learn to code without having to quit your job and shell out a ton of cash? Maybe this is for you. Details here.

Got an opportunity, workshop, scholarship, grant, etc. you want other curious locals to know about? Hit us up at [email protected] to have it listed here.

EVENTS

OUR PARTNER EVENTS

🍻Wednesday: Catch a World Cup game at this new beer garden (Wynwood)

💁Tuesday, July 10: Talk safer personal care at Jackson Hall with an expert (Allapattah)

🍞 Tuesday, July 10: Talk food entrepreneurship at Tostada Tuesdays (North Miami Beach)

🗣Thursday, July 12: Talk diet trends with the experts at Jackson Hall (Allapattah)

AROUND TOWN

TODAY
🎶Put some soul in your Monday (Downtown)

🎸Catch the Wynwood Trio at the train station (Downtown)

🍺Learn about brews (Wynwood)

⚽Watch Brazil face Mexico in the World Cup (Various locations)

⚽Catch the Belgium vs. Japan World Cup match (Various locations)

 

TOMORROW
🍷Pop wine and beer bottles with Wynwood Brewing (Wynwood)

🎸Get down like it’s a Friday night at Las Rosas (Allapattah)

🍺Get your 4th of July party started early with Suenalo (Wynwood)

🏃Plog along and turn your kicks into a planter (Buena Vista)

⚽Watch the Swedes take on the Swiss in the World Cup (Various locations)

⚽Catch Colombia’s World Cup match against England (Various locations)

 

WEDNESDAY
🌭 Attend a good old-fashioned picnic (Coconut Grove)

🎆 Have a classic Fourth of July at the Biltmore with the Greater Miami Symphonic Band (Coral Gables)

🚘 Go to a 4th of July parade (Key Biscayne)

🍻 Enjoy local brews and chill vibes at the Yard (Wynwood)

🎆 Catch fireworks over the bay at the Bayfront Park bash (Downtown)
🎶 Start your 4th with some yoga and end it with some fireworks and funk (North Beach)

Find a full list of 4th of July events here.

 

THURSDAY
🎨Check out PAMM’s exhibits on Third Thursday! – free admission (Downtown)

👑Start your weekend with the Drag Kings (Wynwood)

🕵Learn how to “spy” on your competition’s ad strategy (Allapattah)

💃Dance salsa on Espanola Way (South Beach)

🌱Hang with the SoFlo Vegans Drink meetup group at Jackson Hall (Allapattah)

 

FRIDAY
🏖Join a foodie-friendly beach getty (Surfside)

📽Catch a throwback laser show at Frost (Downtown)

⚡Pay tribute to David Bowie at Churchill’s (Little Haiti)

THAT’S ALL FOR TODAY

But if you’re on the hunt for some concerts to liven up your summer, check out this guide from the folks over at Prism Creative Group. Later this week you can catch GZA from Wu-Tang Clan. Plus, Janelle Monae is playing later this month.

Happy jamming.

– The New Tropic