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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Miami International Film Festival, Ages Gracefully

With Oscar season approaching the cinematic fandom is at a roar and so Miami jumps on the wagon by providing their own homage to the film industry. Three decades later and the week-long multicultural event stands strong. The Miami International Film Festival (MIFF) blows its thirty birthday candles full of major foreign, independent and multi award winning films.
Alejandro Azoy, Miami Dade College alumnus and cinema enthusiast says, “I’m very excited. I enjoy films tremendously and it’s a great opportunity to see films from all over the world.”
The event kicks off on March 1st, 2013 providing the general public with over 140 films and events to enjoy. Tickets are on sale on the MIFF website with general admission fees to each film at $13.
The event does provide discounts for seniors, students and members of the film industry. But film tickets sell fast, it’s a week away and Kenyan film Nairobi Half Life is already sold out.
A proud sponsor and administrator of the MIFF is Miami Dade College which coordinates events, volunteering, and job opportunities within the festival. M-DC students can also benefit by participating in the festival either by volunteering or getting complimentary tickets provided by the college.
Anna Lucia Rodriguez, Volunteer Coordinator for the MIFF says there have been “over 400 volunteer applications” received. Most commonly heard are a shortage of volunteers for such events, but the MIFF is a different story.
“We can’t give everyone the hours they wish to volunteer for,” says Rodriguez. “If they ask for 20 hours we’ll give them 10, we want to keep our volunteers happy and be able to give them the opportunity to participate.”
“It’s my first year coordinating,” says Rodriguez and she has her work cut out; having to prepare Volunteer orientations and assemble tasks for such a large public throughout 12 theaters and over 100 events.
Karisha Medina, Miami Dade College student and returning volunteer says that volunteering provides “many benefits; you can add up to your 100 service learning hours for your presidential award. You get free movie vouchers, sometimes get to enjoy the film and meet many wonderful people.”
Though the event is of a large scale bringing together thousands of members, within and outside of the community, some still are unaware of the happenings of this event.
But MIFF has been trying to inform the public of the festival by doing such things as putting bus stop posters and hanging banners, the most commonly seen, at Flagler St. by the Olympia Theater. M-DC -Wolfson Campus’ Service Learning Center has also been aiding the film festival in advertising.
 “I work with the ICED (Institute for Civic Engagement and Democracy) department, which is the department that works with service learning,” says Medina. “We want students to become more involved with the community and cultural events…we did bookmarks, advertising the film festival, we also tell all the students coming in the office about it.”
As the years pass the festival grows in size and public; highlighting the worldwide film industry. The festival has previously seen major film industry personnel including Michael Caine, Antonio Banderas, Kate Hudson, Sylvester Stallone, Demi Moore, Ricardo Darin and many more. So there is some chance to run into some big stars that participate in this communal event as well.
A nice touch that the festival is adapting is shining a spotlight at small and or independent film venues, such as MDC’s Tower Theater or Wynwood’s O Cinema.
“I’m all for independent theaters hosting these events,” says Azoy. “They’re little gems, little hole in the walls. They get neglected and this exposes them.”
Whether you watch the films in a venue of thirty or a hundred people, the MIFF is an event to experience, for locals, tourists and people of all ages.
 “I believe the reason why MDC sponsors it’s because of the diversity within the college, having students from all over the place,” Azoy says.
“We have different cultures and people, it brings them together one way or another,” adds Medina “you can also learn many things, you become a bit more educated, even though they’re just movies you can learn about other cultures.”
The MIFF will be running for a week March 1st through the 10th and all further information including all movies and event schedules, previous year’s highlights and many more can be found at their website, by clicking here.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Miami Dade College-Wolfson Campus Shapes the Community

The infamous McDonald’s temporarily shuts down, while its customers recover their bodies next door.
One thing is for sure, the fast paced construction of the new building 8 at Miami Dade College, Wolfson Campus, isn’t the most impressive news spreading about this building. All the talk is settled on merely one floor, the sixth.
The new and improved Fitness and Wellness Center has opened its doors to students, faculty and the Miami Dade community members alike. The 10,000 square-foot facility located in the heart of the busy streets of downtown Miami (300 N.E. 2nd Avenue, Bldg 8. Flr 6) sees up to 450 people per day.
This gymnasium entirely decorated with state-of-the-art equipment provides numerous services to its members at a surprisingly low rate. Student fees are as low as $10 a month. “We offer fitness assessments,” says Carlos Mora, a Miami Dade College student majoring in Dietetics and Exercise Science. “We can define your base line fitness level and then after that we give you an exercise program.”
For those with a palate for technology and gadget synching, some of the equipment is actually Apple friendly. “You can connect the device, you can charge the device while working out, and you’re creating the energy to charge the device, which I think it’s pretty cool,” Daniel Estape, Fitness and Wellness Center Director, says.
Some of the equipment is also geared with a 7” television in which you can change to the channel you prefer or even link it to Netflix and finally find out what LOST was actually about. Or even pull up a class lecture and kill two birds with one stone. Referring to students using their exercise time also as study time Estape says “I haven’t seen it yet, but when I do see it their picture is going to be on Facebook.”
Along with the 21st century high tech equipment the facility also provides fitness classes like Indoor Cycling, Yoga and even the fast pacing, popularity gaining Zumba class.
“The classes are free and part of your membership,” Estape explains, there are no extra fees after your membership. All fitness classes’ schedules and further descriptions can be found on the Fitness and Wellness Center’s website.
Also, the facility is not only an opportunity to get fit, but a space that accepts volunteer, provides internship opportunities and even paying jobs for students once upon a time.
“There were job opportunities before, the positions were limited and they filled up,” says Luanna Ochoa Vice President of the health and wellness organizations. Ochoa volunteers at the Fitness Center, “I started this semester, but I was always here helping out” she says, “it’s fun, I like it.”
The gymnasium seems to be perfect, it even made debut as a filming location for the new television series Graceland, but Ochoa says “There’s always room for improvement,” the public has asked for further services, but they are hard to meet.  “People always come asking if we could have more food and drinks available, now we have water and Gatorade.” Ochoa says, “things have to be prepackaged and there’s always the hygiene factor to consider.”
            The Health and Wellness organization has been trying to convert the students and staff to a healthy lifestyle, “everything that we do is good, everything” says Mora, to the participators of the organization it was a great success to finally get fruit cups added to the cafeteria’s menu, “now there’s a healthy alternative” he says.
The new Fitness and Wellness Center is new hope for this once small organization, “thinking about it logically there has been high obesity rates and they’re trying to fix that,” Ochoa adds, “also the old gym had a low ratio it made more sense to have a larger square footage.”
The new gymnasium seems to be a new highlight factor for the Miami Dade College Institution. “If you look at downtown, Miami Dade is in the middle, the building, centers, it’s a place where a lot a people would want to come from the school and outside.” Ochoa says.
            All further information on the new Fitness and Wellness Center including hours of operations can be found at