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March 31, 2014

Filmmaker Billy Corben on Miami dumping Ultra: "Getting rid of Ultra is a myopic, generationally-tone deaf solution"


With the controversy and horrific accident involving a security guard at Ultra heating up the social media airwaves over the weekend, Miami-based filmmaker Billy Corben, known for, among other things, his outspoken views on the Miami zeitgeist, couldn't help but make comparisons to the recent hip hop documentary he and partner Alfred Spellman directed and produced for VH1.
"The situation reminds me so much of 'The Tanning of America' and the general pushback on hip hop and violence at concerts," Corben told us. "My heart goes out to security guard Erica Mack, who I hope will make a complete and speedy recovery. This was a disturbing, potentially avoidable incident and calls for a thorough investigation to ensure that those responsible are held accountable and real solutions are developed to prevent it from reoccurring in the future."
So will there be an Ultra documentary in Corben's repertoire? That would be a resounding no, and not because he agrees with the Mayor and thinks it should pack up and leave town for good. Quite the opposite, in fact.
"Ultra is not for me. I've never been, nor is it likely I'll ever go. But that's what makes Miami Miami: there's something for everyone. We should not allow one tragic incident to derail the 15 year tradition and impact of an internationally recognized event.

Ultra is far more culturally relevant and economically stimulating than the soccer stadium proposal that local politicos are presently salivating over--by the way, if you're interested in reducing trampling incidents, you should probably avoid soccer stadiums. Getting rid of Ultra is a myopic, generationally-tone deaf solution. Mayor Regalado sounds a bit like John Lithgow in Footloose. And, like Rev. Moore, I hope he will someday see the light (of the glow stick).
I don't recall this kind of outrage from Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado and Commissioner Marc Sarnoff when, in 2011, Sgt. Javier Ortiz and a group of Miami Police officers beat, choked, tasered (three times) and wrongfully arrested a tourist at Ultra over a glow stick. A video revealed that the cops (two of whom were later arrested in an unrelated Federal extortion and bribery investigation and pleaded guilty) lied in their reports and allegedly committed perjury in sworn depositions. State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle took no action against the tourist or officers.
According to the tourist, as he laid bruised, battered and tasered on the ground, fearing for his life, one of the cops said, “Welcome to Miami, bitch." Isn't that just so Miami?  
Last year, during fierce negotiations over Ultra's second weekend, Commissioner Sarnoff reportedly compelled festival organizers to cover all costs associated with a federal lawsuit filed against the city by that tourist beaten by Miami cops. So, if they get rid of Ultra, who's going to pay for their police brutality cases?"