Florida fuckery is Rakontur’s bread and butter. As pointed out early on in Screwball, the latest documentary by Miami-based filmmakers Billy Corben and Alfred Spellman, WTFlorida lore dates back to the 16th century, when Ponce de León came here seeking the Fountain of Youth. The filmmakers make an important connection to that myth and the pipe dream sold by Tony Bosch, the subject of Rakontur’s latest documentary that focuses on Florida’s connection to Major League Baseball’s steroid scandal.
The movie, which had its Miami premiere earlier this month at Miami Dade College’s Miami Film Festival, features talking heads, including Bosch himself, eager to confess all to director Corben. Bosch was the founder of Biogenesis of America, a Coral Gables health clinic promising rejuvenation treatments and ultimately connected to performance enhancing drugs used by MLB players like Alex Rodriguez and Melky Cabrera.
A New Times investigation by Tim Elfrink, former managing editor of our publication, exposed the clinic. Screwball, in fact, opens much like one of Elfrink’s articles following the saga, in which the writer focuses on Porter Fischer, the former employee of Biogenesis who blew the whistle on Bosch’s operation to the New Times. But the creative team at Rakontur, which also includes Spellman as a creative producer and David Cypkin as co-producer and a massive talent on the editing board, tell the story with their own unique flair. Cypkin, who has worked with the duo since Cocaine Cowboys (2006), brings a kinetic flow to the proceedings.
Screwball wouldn’t be as half as entertaining, however, were it not for two key elements: Fischer and Bosch, the latter of whom spent a little over a year and a half in federal prison for his acts, and both of whom suffer from diarrhea of the mouth. Child actors play out their wild stories in vivid, comical reenactments featuring hilariously on-point wardrobe, coifs and facial hair. (Ian Mackles even sports a ginger beard as Elfrink) It’s a brilliant move that speaks to both the childishness and audacity of the events.
Fischer (Frankie Diaz), who went from juicing client to self-appointed marketer for Biogenesis, sets out for revenge against Bosch (Bryan Blanco), whose own cocaine-addled propensity to party isn’t doing him any favors to stay below the radar. Childishness is portrayed by using child actors in these reenactments, but it also symbolizes something starker: Bosch also juiced teenage athletes brought to his clinic by overzealous parents hoping for athletic scholarships. It was that act that ultimately put him in jail.
Tie it back to the Fountain of Youth and you have a rich and hilarious metaphor that works to enhance the surprises of yet another rich story of Florida fuckery by Rakontur.
Screwball opens in Miami on Friday, March 29th, at MDC’s Tower Theater Miami and O Cinema Miami Beach.