Debut film iMordecai is a love letter to Miami’s iconic scenes

iMordecai red carpet premiere| Image via Nicole Rodil, PantherNOW

Nicole Rodil | Staff Writer

The Miami scene creates a perfect atmosphere for director Marvin Samel’s newest film– iMorecai. As of February 24th, director Marvin Samel’s debut film iMordecai has been released in theaters. 

A film based on Samels true life experiences, where his father Mordecai– an immigrant and holocaust survivor, is given his first iPhone and begins to learn how to navigate the realities of the modern world through technology and family.

Marvin Samel grew up in Canarsie, Brooklyn and was the cofounder of a cigar business, Drew Estate, for many years. After leaving the cigar business five years ago, Samel decided to make this film as an homage to his father and recently deceased mother. 

His hope was to share a story of the perseverance and struggle many older immigrants face in this country, coupled with some humor and lightheartedness. 

“It was utterly disarming. It was so funny and genuine and disregarded all the usual rules of Hollywood.” said writer and producer Dahlia Heyman about what drew her to the script.

Although he wasn’t raised in Miami, director Samels and his parents lived here for quite some time, so he felt shooting the film here would be the ideal choice.

Director Marvin Samel and actor Judd Hirsch behind the scenes of iMordecai| Image via Miami New Times. 

“Miami has a character in the film, every shot that I composed of Miami, my parents have walked that earth.” said director Marvin Samel to PantherNOW.

He filmed through Aventura, South Miami, Lincoln Road, Sunset and more, with almost every place he shot at being a spot that was personally tied to him and his parents’ memories of Miami.

“My parents lived in Aventura, I lived in South Beach when I moved here” explained Samel “That’s why I composed every shot to be in places that my parents and I loved to go.”

Samel wanted the film to feel as authentic to him and his parents’ true experiences as possible– “My parents used to love walking up and down Lincoln Road,” said Samel to PantherNOW, “That’s why I’d say my favorite filming location was Lincoln Road, because of the significance.”

The environment here in Miami was thoroughly explored and highlighted within the movie: many iconic Miami views can be seen throughout the background and the characters can be seen relishing in the Miami atmosphere in many scenes. 

Actor Judd Hirsch and actress Azia Dinea Hale filming iMordecai| Image via iMordecai team.

“I love the architecture too and the designs here in Miami, it’s really beautiful” said actress Azia Dinea Hale who played Nina, a friend of Mordecais throughout the film, who teaches him forgiveness and unity. “I got to explore so much of it while filming– all these places I had never been.”

As iMordecai promises iconic Miami views and spots, it delivers on that promise. The Miami theme is very integral within the film, and many places that most Miami residents have visited can be seen throughout, such as Sunset and South beach– allowing for a very relatable and familial watching experience if you are from here as well.

Something that is also to be expected when watching iMordecai, is to witness a lot of Jewish representation and community being displayed throughout. Lots of factual moments and tragedies in Jewish history are mentioned and explored within the story of iMordecai. There are even many real Jewish communities here in Miami shown in the movie. 

iMordecai presents itself as a lighthearted comedy about growing old and being disconnected from the modern world, but as you dig deeper, you realize it is at its core a story about embracing one’s past and choosing to come together as humans to face the future. It is a film that carries many valuable messages, but it expects its audience to attach their own meaning to them.

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