Miami natives deliver raw take on ‘Magic City’

 

BY ADAM H. BEASLEY | abeasley@MiamiHerald.com

A long-shot dream cooked up by a couple of buddies from the suburbs was realized before a packed house Friday night, as the thoroughly homegrown Magic City Memoirs made its cinematic debut.

But if you weren’t one of the hundreds of nearest and dearest who filled the Gusman Center for the Performing Arts for the glittering premiere, fear not.

Two more shows are planned Saturday at the Regal South Beach.

For writer-director Aaron J. Salgado and producer Jaydee Freixas — who both hail from the Kendall area — the project’s two-day unveiling at the Miami International Film Festival was the ultimate payoff. The movie is an unvarnished take on the beautiful but treacherous city that they call home.

“We’re born and raised in Miami — Kendall, Westchester,” Salgado said moments before the opening credits. “The whole thing is true. We got certain elements from some of our friends, but every story has happened to someone I know.”

Added actor Andres Dominguez, film co-star and a classmate of Freixas’ at Columbus and St. Brendan high schools: “There’s a lot of people are going to be reenacted in this movie. To them, they’ll be like, ‘This is me. This is what I did.’ ”

Wild — not to mention destructive — South Florida tales of sex, drugs and hip-hop are told through three friends (Dominguez, J.R. Villarreal and Michael Cardelle) in this 97-minute film. Magic City Memoirs also features Dominik Garcia-Lorido, whose ties to Miami are more genetic than geographic.

While Garcia-Lorido has spent most of her life in L.A., the daughter of Cuban émigré-turned-Hollywood heavyweight Andy Garcia spent summers in Key Biscayne growing up. And by casting Garcia-Lorido, the production team scored a tidy two-for-one.

Her dad, the Ocean’s Eleven star, signed on as executive producer after screening early cuts in his Miami home.

“The raw film had such an organic truth that was captivating,” Garcia said on the red carpet. “The actors were as good as performances as you want to see. It was almost like watching a documentary.”

After this weekend, it will truly be time for Salgado and Freixas to lean on Garcia’s 25 years of Tinseltown experience.

The film’s future after Saturday is unclear, as Magic City Memoirs is a true indie. Garcia will take the project to Hollywood in the coming weeks and try get it sold.

“We’re fresh out the gates. We’re free agents,” Freixas said.

“But [this weekend], we’re showing distributors that we can hit our demographics. Eighteen to 34 [-year-old] Hispanics, that’s a big seller.

“Get the film out there, and it will go wild.”

If Friday night is any indication, with a line outside the historic Gusman stretching down Flagler Street, it’s certainly off to a good start.

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