Still from Buzzkill

Four Columbia Films to Screen at 2021 Miami Film Festival

BY Cody Beltis , March 8, 2021

Four films written and directed by Columbia filmmakers will screen at the Miami Film Festival at Miami Dade College from March 5 to March 14, 2021. They are: Buzzkill, The CoronationAsí en la Tierra, and Aburo.


Buzzkill, written & directed by student Kathy Esquenazi Mitrani, produced by student Aliza Brugger and alumna Manqing Cang '20 will screen on Sunday, March 7th at 1:30pm ET at the Silverspot Cinema. 


Buzzkill had its world premiere at the Chicago International Film Festival in October. The film follows an adolescent girl as she desperately tries to fit in with a group of South Florida teenagers. You can watch the trailer here


Colombian writer and director Kathy Esquenazi-Mitrani is currently based in New York. Her previous short film, Rozada, premiered at Palm Springs International Short Film Festival 2020 and will screen at AFI Fest 2020 in mid October. It was chosen as a Vimeo Staff Pick. 


Aliza Brugger is a New York City based producer, director and screenwriter originally from Nebraska. She has written, directed and produced several features, TV pilots and short films that have screened in festivals all over the world. Brugger enjoys exploring themes of sexuality, female connection, nature and dystopia. Her goal as a filmmaker is to create stories that connect viewers to the image, to each other, and to the world.

Still from The Coronation

The Coronation, written and directed by student Dhruv Sud, and produced by student Grace Merriman, will screen on Thursday, March 11th at 8:00pm ET at The Silverspot Cinema. 


In The Coronation, a comedic fable, a young boy sneaks out from his parents' home in New Jersey to see his drag queen friends in New York City. While there, he is encouraged to try drag for the first time and he is crowned queen for a night. The film previously won the Audience award for Best Short Film at the Filmocracy Fest 2020. You can watch the trailer here


Dhruv Sud is a writer, director, and producer based in Brooklyn. He finds himself drawn to dark comedy and drama, often dealing with themes of queerness, racial identity, immigration, or privilege.


Grace Merriman is a NYC-based independent film and theater producer. She has produced several short films that have screened at festivals around the country and has several more in various stages of development and production. In 2020, Merriman co-produced a documentary short, Crossed, directed by student Kristin Kohlmeyer. Some of her other short film Producing credits include Reverb by Min Kyu Kang, which premiered at the Academy Award Qualifying Foyle Film Festival in Northern Ireland and Zoe by student Jade Edwards, which premiered at the New York Shorts International Film Festival. Merriman is currently in her final year at the Columbia University Film program, pursuing an MFA in Creative Producing. 

Still from Así en la Tierra

Finally, Así en la Tierra, written and directed by alumnus Joel Vázquez Cárdenas '18, will screen on Saturday, March 6th at 3:30pm ET at the Silverspot Cinema. 


In Así en la Tierra, Salvador Huerta must attempt to save his late father's farm from a ruthless loan shark, when a meteorite crashes on and destroys his harvest. Against his own principles, he and the local priest lead the townspeople to believe the rock is a sign from God, but when the lie grows out of control, Salvador must choose between his land and his dignity. 


Joel Vázquez Cárdenas was born in Mexico, where his dad exposed him to classic sci-fi films from an early age. Así en la Tierra, his graduate thesis from Columbia University, was shortlisted for a BAFTA Student Award. He's developing his first feature, Rebecca.

Still from Aburo, image courtesy of Miami Film Festival

Aburo, written and directed by student Cecilia Otero Rivas, and co-produced by student Silvia Chen, will screen Saturday, March 13th at 3:30pm and Sunday, March 14th at 12:00pm. 


In Aburo, David dreams of becoming a ballet dancer, while his twin brother Alexis plans to rob a restaurant. The brothers' inability to relate to each other has brought them to the brink of a domestic war that erupts in a fight the night before David's auditions. Their diverging paths will make them meet again in the middle of Havana.

Cecilia Otero Rivas is a New York-based filmmaker born in Cuba and raised in Chile. Her first feature as producer, Piola, won the Best First Feature Prize at FICG 35. She's part of the highly competitive BAFTA's Newcomers Program. Aburo is her directorial debut.


Born and raised in Taiwan, Silvia Chen is a New York-based film and television producer who is fluent in Mandarin, Taiwanese and English. She came to the US from Taiwan with a 6-year background in television advertising and music video production. She has produced over 40 TV commercials broadcast in Taiwan and China where her clients included Audi, Mercedes Benz, Ford, Google Search, and is a proficient line producer. A music video she produced, Slow / Oriental by Sunset Rollercoaster, won the prize for Best Music Video at the 2019 Golden Melody Awards in Taiwan. Chen has directed two short films, Coffee and Tea and All for Your Own Good, and produced three more—Five to Four, Aburo and We Want Our Money Back.