All Articles
All Articles


A beautifully brutal short film by Miami filmmaker Julian Yuri Rodriguez

by David Graver
on 10 January 2014

Screening at this year's prestigious Slamdance Film Festival (in the Anarchy Shorts category), "C#CKFIGHT" is a nine-minute long mind-bending and voyeuristic exploration of a sweat-soaked back-room brawl. Born and bred in Miami, filmmaker Julian Yuri Rodriguez—a Knight Foundation Fellow at the Sundance Institute—co-wrote and directed the film. While it's Rodriguez's first narrative fiction piece, it also happens to be another stellar offering from the producers behind #PostModem and Miami's Borscht Film Festival.


Rodriguez refers to "C#CKFIGHT" as a deconstructed adaptation of Dante's "Inferno," but the setting happens to be a fighting ring somewhere within Miami's underworld. There, a boisterous cast of horror show-like characters, chant and cheer to support the destruction of one combatant. The scene's onlookers are clearly entertained, as are viewers of the film. In that chaos, the filmmaker explores and questions what we find engaging and beautiful. The experience is seedy and brutal, with hellish yet celebratory undertones. Dizzying and visionary—almost like Gaspar Noé's "Enter the Void"—this is a freakish carnival of curiosity with death and sex as the stakes.


The 25-year-old Rodriguez began as a music video director but burst onto the scene with a documentary short that was written, directed and starring himself. This film, "Piratas," premiered at the Borscht Film Festival and demonstrated his knack for charged storytelling, which gained him strong critical support. With "C#CKFIGHT," Rodriguez found himself directing roughly 70 extras during one 16-hour shoot. "If I had to call it any genre," he explains to CH, "I'd call it a fantasy film. At the time of filming, I was living a double life—working 18-hour days on a TV show but also doing many of my own things. The characters in my film also have day jobs, but I wanted to make this setting where there's this fantasy world where guys go away." He binds the root of this directly to the film's structure. "The opening shot is this couple getting engaged. The final is a rooster in the same spot. I wanted to take people into a world where we could be our animal selves and act on instinct."


Although there are roosters in the short film, no animals actually fight. "Originally, when I pitched the film, I said I was going to make a cockfighting movie, but deep down inside it wasn't what I wanted. As far as visually, I was inspired by fighting movies but I also didn't want to make a fight movie," he says. "My film almost plays out like an old gladiator match, but there is an elegance throughout. It was hard to maintain elegance in such a dark setting but the main thing I wanted to convey was making the audience ask whether or not they found the film beautiful—and why." The film is indeed beautiful, with a sweaty, smoky aesthetic. However, it is also gruesome. There is even a perversion to the contents that led Rodriguez to film certain scenes with the extras without the two main fighters, for fear the extras would have walked off set. Ultimately Rodriguez has created a near-sensory experience through stunning visuals and his distinct ability to twist a story.

Tickets to the screenings of "C#CKFIGHT" on 18 and 21 January 2014 are available online. You can also purchase tickets for tonight, 10 January 2014, as part of the Extrême CinémaThèque series at La Cinémathèque de Toulouse in Toulouse, France.

Images courtesy of Shayna Batya

The CH25 is a showcase of creators and innovators from a broad range of disciplines who are currently working to drive the world forward.

George Arriola and Monohm

An heirloom electronic for the post-smartphone era

Read More
We agonized during the design process as all hyper-obsessed craftspeople should

Dan Barasch + James Ramsey

A quest to make the future brighter—underground

Read More
We both share a passion for groundbreaking technology and a shared love of New York

Roxie Darling

From un-shampoo to transgender identity, the NYC colorist boldly defining the next chapter of hair

Read More
Hair color is as much a science as it is a craft

Eelke Plasmeijer

The locally driven restaurant that’s upending Balinese food culture

Read More
We really try to keep things simple and let the produce do the talking

LaToya Ruby Frazier

Documenting the slow, troubling change in Braddock, Pennsylvania

Read More
I am not a journalist, I am a conceptual documentary artist using my visual expression for building narratives that are unseen and unheard

Lulu Mickelson

A civic leader bringing change to NYC through design

Read More
Human-centered design is one of the many tools that we can use to better engage the public

Joshua Harker

Pushing the boundaries of sculpture with intricate 3D printing

Read More
My intent was to explore and depict the architecture of the imagination, to interpret and share forms evident in the mind’s eye

Sarah Kunst

The entrepreneur single-handedly changing the landscape for women in tech

Read More
People who live on a planet that is half women but can never seem to find any when they need one, I have solved your problem

Leopoldine Huyghues Despointes

The young filmmaker and non-profit founder who just wants people to follow their dreams

Read More
I feel confident and ready to accomplish so much more, the movement is on

Alex Kalman

The tiny museum in Manhattan that’s redefining museums

Read More
The mission is to put this small simple and powerful tool into the hands of as many people as possible

Matt Kenyon

Fusing art and technology to disrupt concepts of corporate America

Read More
I want the work to live in the world and circulate, so it can generate more dialogue

Pauline van Dongen

The Dutch designer blazing the wearable technology path

Read More
I’m fascinated by concepts of change, movement, energy and perception; since they are closely related to the way we experience the world

Kegan Schouwenburg

Revolutionizing orthotics through 3D-printed insoles

Read More
What orthotics do is they effectively change the geometry of what your alignment is like

Corinne Joachim Sanon

The chocolatier bringing social change to Haiti and bean-to-bar chocolate to the world

Read More
Seeing the poverty surrounding me and the lack of jobs and opportunity bothered me

Jonathan Sparks

Reinventing electronic music by inventing multi-disciplinary instruments

Read More
Recorded music is becoming so cheap, so the value of music is now in live performance

Tarren Wolfe

The next-generation appliance making kitchens greener—literally

Read More
Our goal is to provide food for everyone in the world, and the best place to start is in our very own community

Douglas Riboud + Justin Guilbert

How a mission to create great coconut water led to a whole new way of doing business

Read More
We’ve made a conscious decision to be as transparent and honest as we can, and let people decide for themselves

Meredith Perry

How searching the Internet helped a 22-year-old invent wireless electricity

Read More
It’s not about where the information is, it’s about how you use the tools

Marcus Weller

Using technology to turn motorcycle helmet design on its head

Read More
I was taken aback both by the number of people that doubted it, and by the equally large number of people that got behind it

Tal Danino

The bioengineer who’s programming DNA to fight cancer

Read More
[Manipulating genes] is very new, people are just learning how to program these organisms

Kathleen Supové

The NYC performance artist who’s radically reinventing the piano recital

Read More
I like pieces that are virtuosic, that show off the piano and what it can do, and are awe-inspiring

Melissa Kushner

Addressing the needs of orphans and vulnerable children in Malawi through microenterprise

Read More
Poverty is complicated, there is an increasing temptation and pressure in the development space to oversimplify things

Vanessa Newman

Redesigning pregnancy for the post-gender generation with Butchbaby & Co.

Read More
I want my customers to feel comfortable and unchanged, in that becoming pregnant didn't take away from or compromise their identity

Cynthia Breazeal

How an emotional, empathetic robot named Jibo stands to revolutionize communication

Read More
The thing that's so provocative about social robots is that it's fundamentally a community technology

Sabine Seymour

A future where smart clothes are as ubiquitous as zippers

Read More
In the future you will not buy a piece of 'functional' clothing without SoftSpot
Loading More...