Miami’s Borscht Corp. wins big at Sundance

For Bernardo Britto, the road to Sundance was paved with 2,000 drawings, by hand, pencil on paper – a rarity these days for animators. It paid off.

The South Florida native’s animated short film – produced by the Knight-funded Borscht Corp. – just won Sundance’s Short Film Jury Award: Animation. The festival has shown Borscht’s work for four consecutive years, a rare distinction, but this is its first win. It’s further proof that Miami’s film community is gaining national recognition.

Britto’s “Yearbook” is about a man assigned to document the history of human existence before Earth is destroyed. It’s a bit dark, but also comical. Britto said he got the germ of the idea last year after reading the words on a pencil handed out at the opening of another Borscht short, Lucas Leyva and Jillian Mayer’s “#PostModem.” The inscription read, “Everything you do will be forgotten.”

“It was very depressing … especially as I was getting ready to do a new movie – to make one knowing that it probably wouldn’t be around in the future. So the only way I could make another movie was to address that,” Britto, 24, said.

His hope, though, is that the movie moves people to think less about these existential conundrums: “Maybe we shouldn’t stress out so much about it. We won’t get the answers, and we probably aren’t going to ever feel settled and content. We have no choice but to accept it and say, ‘Whatever.’”

Britto received a grant from Borscht for the film, which was co-produced by New York’s Calavera. It was made in both Miami and New York.

The hand drawings are part of the appeal, said Leyva, the filmmaker who founded Borscht as an art student in Miami.

“It gives his work a tactile feel, and I think people can connect with it more easily. There’s something about the handmade quality; you can feel the imperfections in every frame,” Leyva, himself a co-producer on “Yearbook,” said.

Borscht is planning on screening the film in South Florida in late February, Leyva said. Follow @borschtcorp on Twitter for upcoming details.

As for Britto, he hasn’t decided on his next project. The New York University grad is thinking of dabbling in live-action film.

“Hopefully after this award, it won’t be too hard to get people to help me out,” Britto said.

Marika Lynch, a former journalist, is a communications consultant for Knight Foundation.