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Kareem Tabsch organized this year’s Key West Film Festival that features 50 selections of independent movie making. The festival runs through Sunday, Nov. 17.

Kareem Tabsch, leader of the independent film scene in Miami and curator for the Key West Film Festival, picked more than 50 features for this year’s film festival of flicks that cannot be found at the corner Redbox. They are independent productions: dollar poor and talent rich.

“The main difference [between mainstream films and independent productions] is the story that is told in the films. They are original ideas and much more thought provoking,” said Tabsch.

Although the movies lack the financial backing of the colossal production companies, the quality is not compromised.

“Independent films are amazing acts of passion and art. The producers and actors are not chasing Hollywood dreams, but submerged in their films. They are focused on taking beautiful shots and sharing stories with creative people,” he said.

Tabsch is co-founder and co-producer of two alternative movie theaters in Miami called O Cinema. The theaters bring to life these stories and ideas the public cannot normally access because they don’t fit into the perfect “commercial” box or brand.

“Many of the films do not make wide distribution because there are thousands of people involved [in the selection process], only looking for the biggest bang for the buck; something they know will sell,” said Tabsch.

Although the films themselves may be somewhat obscure, there are many Hollywood A-listers that are involved behind the scenes. The Key West Film Festival features two films directed or co-directed by James Franco, better known for his role in “Spiderman” and other blockbuster films.  “Sal” tells he story of Sal Mineo, one-time teen idol whose life was cut tragically short. In another, “Interior. Leather Bar,” Franco sets out to reimagine the 40 minutes rumored to have been cut from the 1980 film “Cruising.”  The work of Mariel Hemingway, granddaughter of Ernest Hemingway, is also featured. Her biographic film “Running from Crazy,” deals with the family’s history of suicide and mental illness.

The 50 films of the Key West Film Festival run the gamut from romance to comedy to documentary. Screenings run through Sunday, Nov. 17. Films are shown at Tropic Cinema and San Carlos Institute in Key West. To buy tickets online and look at the schedule go to keywest.festivalgenius.com/2013/schedule/week.

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