Scarface is a little like Moby Dick: even if you’ve never seen it, it’s so embedded in the American consciousness that you basically have. And while Brian De Palma’s parable of the American dream gone terribly awry was intended more as a condemnation of our materialistic value system, it has somehow morphed into the New Testament for wannabe gangbangers across the world, with Al Pacino as their prophet.
Meanwhile, Miami residents continue to live in the persistent shadow of this monumental cultural phenomenon. And despite its decidedly New York/Hollywood perspective (and terrible Cuban accents), it has become the iconic representation of their city.
Now, in an effort to re-empower Miami-ness, the folks over at the media-arts collective Borscht Corp have launched the Scarface Redux campaign. After breaking the 170 minute operatic masterpiece into 15-second chunks, Borscht Corp has launched a website inviting everyday people from across the world to submit their reinterpretation of each clip. Once all the submissions are in, Borscht will reassemble the film into a post-modern Frankenstein of collaborative, crowdsourced creativity.
We recently caught up with Borscht’s Jillian Mayer to talk about redefining Miami, crowdsourcing and, of course, Scarface.
What was the genesis of this project? You mentioned Star Wars Uncut as an influence, when did it click that this could work just as well with Scarface?
Scarface presents an interpretation of Miami that a lot of people still picture when they think of the city. We thought it would be a fun experiment to see how Miami would interpret Scarface in return, over 30 years later.
As artists, what do you find so appealing about the concept of a collaborative “Redux”?
Instead of one persisting cinematic expression of Miami, we thought we should present 636 different ones in a context where all of them are equally valid.
You’ve spoken a lot about living in the shadow of Scarface as Miami filmmakers how does this project play into your mission of “redefining Miami in cinema”?
Scarface Redux gives a platform for everyone in the community (not just experienced filmmakers) to get involved and share their ideas within the Scarface story. Many of the uploads we have been receiving are filmed simply on cellphones with creativity and friends. Miami cinema used to be presented by larger companies that would fly into town, shoot, and then leave. This project offers a chance for everyone to join together.
Which scene of the film would you be most excited to remake and why?
Everyone prefers something different. We have cut the movie into 636 chunks so there is a lot to choose from.
How has the response been so far?
The response has been great. We are looking forward to all of the submissions and our screening of the final crowdsourced Scarface Redux in December at a free event in Miami.
What kind of results are you hoping for, both in terms of the process and the final product?
Creativity and effort! This isn’t about high quality production and fancy equipment. To us at Borscht, this is about people getting to flex their styles of expression in 15 second clips!
UPDATE 12/3/2014: The submission deadline is only a few days away.
You too can participate! All you future DePalma’s out there have until December 8th at 11:59pm to send your 15-second masterpieces over to the folks at Borscht and secure your spot in cinematic history. As an added incentive, a panel of judges will choose 15 finalists and one grand prize winner, who will receive an all-expenses paid trip for two to Miami Beach for the Borscht Film Festival, where the final version of Scarface Redux will screen on closing night, December 21st. So don’t slack on those clips, folks.