O Cinema launches an exciting new era as it becomes a hub for the next generation of storytelling in South Florida with virtual reality, mixed reality, and immersive experiences. The arthouse cinema pioneers creative, boundary-pushing forms of experiential art, such as This is Not a Ceremony, hosted by O Cinema Saturdays and Sundays this winter at its historic Art Deco location at 1130 Washington Avenue, Miami Beach.
This is Not a Ceremony premiered to acclaim at Sundance’s New Frontier Fest in 2022. Guests don VR headsets provided by O Cinema and immerse themselves in a stunning virtual reality cinematic experience created by Niitsitapi writer and director Ahnahktsipiitaa (Colin Van Loon). Guests become participants as they sit at the four corners of a medicine wheel and are transported to a realm of panoramic, absorbing experiences including a fiery buffalo, tricksters, and other imagery from Van Loon’s personal experiences of the darker side of indigenous life in Canada, including the story of an indigenous elder left to die in a wheelchair in an ER waiting room.
The experience, including VR headset, is $5 Saturdays and Sundays at O Cinema South Beach from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. through April (please check website for availability), as well as traveling as part of O Cinema on the Go). Throughout the winter the VR installation travels to local libraries for free showings throughout Miami-Dade including:
Model City Branch Library Sat. 1/7/23, 11:00 am to 3:00 pm
North Dade Regional Library Sat/ 1/28/23 11:00 am to 3:00 pm
Westchester Regional Library Sat. 2/18/23 11:00 am to 3:00 pm
Naranja Branch Library Sat. 3/18/23 11:00 am to 3:00 pm
This is in line with O Cinema’s mission to make art accessible to a diverse audience in South Florida who would not otherwise be able to participate.
On the last Friday of each month, O Cinema hosts a global virtual reality event on AltSpace of curated shorts. In the comfort of their home, guests gather in a virtual reality circus environment created especially by JC Fractal for O Cinema and watch shorts curated in community. Guests can participate with their own VR headsets or on their own computers. The next screening is free and takes place on January 20th at 8 p.m. and features Joel Richardson’s dark and satirical short film “The Death & the Mysteries of Raising Powerful Children.” Tickets are available at o-cinema.org.
Vivian Marthell is the director, creator, “protogeek” and VR evangelist spearheading these developments. As the co-founder and director of O Cinema, she’s invested in fostering creativity and community in Miami. Marthell says, “I’m an early adopter and I’ve never been afraid to try new things. I’m alright with saying ‘Ok, that didn’t work.’ We’ve always been iterative, quirky, and edgy and I think that’s why the community embraces us because Miami is definitely all of those things.” She’s excited about how VR can accelerate O Cinema’s mission to bring art and film to diverse audiences: “Since the advent of digital tech, storytelling has become more available to more people and O Cinema is the home for that. Whether you are making or consuming stories, we want O Cinema to be the hub for how people in Miami participate in media. I think we have an important role to play in terms of making experiential and cinematic art accessible in South Florida, especially given how our independent cinema landscape has recently gotten even smaller.”
As part of O Cinema’s exciting new direction, Marthell steps to the forefront of the organization’s leadership as co-founder Kareem Tabsch transitions to a full-time focus on film directing. Tabsch and Marthell founded O Cinema in 2008. As they worked together on O Cinema, both of them also fostered their individual passions for storytelling through film. Most recently, Tabsch produced and directed the Emmy-nominated documentary Mucho Mucho Amor: The Legend of Walter Mercado which premiered at Sundance and was released by Netflix. The New York Times called it one of the 20 essential Latinx Films of the Millennium. Tabsch decided to go all in on his filmmaking, but remains involved as an advisory committee member of O Cinema. Says Marthell, “I speak for our team when I say how much Miami ‘orgullo’ we have for Kareem. We’re so grateful for all that he’s created with us at O Cinema and beyond in terms of storytelling, the arts, and film in South Florida. We’re so excited about everything that’s ahead for him on his new journey.”
O Cinema continues beloved regular series such as Seasoned Actors, a tribute to a different actor each quarter, and Awake & Aware, a monthly brunch, film, and experience centered around wellness and spirituality. Marthell also has some additional exciting plans in store for O Cinema later this year.
About O Cinema
O Cinema is an independent, community-based, mission-driven, non-profit arthouse cinema featuring first-run films, engaging programs, and interactive events. As the home for the next generation of storytelling in South Florida, it provides intriguing, entertaining, and superior-quality offerings that audiences would otherwise not see in Miami-Dade. O Cinema works to ensure that it represents a reflection of our diverse community and that prices are accessible to the broadest possible audience. We believe in the power of the arts to change communities and change lives. We have a mission to elevate BIPOC, diverse filmmakers, actors, artists, and more. O Cinema lives in a beautiful, historic Art Deco Theater which was built by Carl Fisher in 1927 and restored by Miami Beach Cinematheque in 2011. Now O Cinema houses a theater, gallery, bookstores/library, and cafe at 1130 Washington Avenue, Miami Beach. Learn more at o-cinema.org and follow on Facebook and Instagram at @ocinema.