Apr 12, 2024 - News

Local director spotlights Miami in debut feature "Fallen Fruit"

Illustration of a film reel with an inverted exclamation point.

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

In crafting a film about "learning to love Miami again," 305-native Chris Molina set his story among local landmarks — A.C.'s Icees, Matheson Hammock Park, Kendall Indian Hammock Park — to make the city itself a central character.

Why it matters: The 28-year-old's film debuted last week at Miami's Film Festival among the about 40 locally made features and short films in the festival's lineup — the most films made by locals in the event's history.

  • "They've got something to say," James Woolley, the festival executive director, told the Miami Herald. "They have a point of view. They're really wanting to engage with the world right now."

Case in point: "Fallen Fruit" is a semi-autobiographical story, written from Molina's experience learning to love Miami in his early 20s.

  • "At least for me and my friends, we've all had a really hard time learning to love the city" as adults, whether it's because of the traffic, heat or the politics, he tells Axios. "But I wanted to show it was possible to do it."
  • He may try New York City or Los Angeles for short stints, but says he always winds up back in Miami "because there's such a rich inspiration here all the time."

Caveat: Being a filmmaker in Miami is also hard, as it often seems like there aren't as many resources or opportunities compared to other cities, he says.

What's inside: The film includes LGBTQ+ themes and storylines, but Molina purposefully didn't make it a coming out story or "some sort of tragedy around his [the protagonist's] queerness."

  • The character's queerness is just a part of life, he tells Axios. "Not everything is a dramatic coming out story."

Between the lines: If this movie is political in any way, it's in affirming that gay people exist in Florida, he tells Axios. "There's this idea that we don't live here because of the laws. But we're still very much around and having fun."

The bottom line: Molina hopes moviegoers take away the "thirst for finding beauty within their own town or city," he says.

  • This movie could only be made in Miami, and he hopes "people don't feel like they need to move somewhere else to make their dreams happen."
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