500 71st Street, Miami Beach, FL 33141


World Premiere


Country: USA
Language: English

Running Time: 55min
Film Year: 2016
Category: Florida Focus

Featuring a live performance from the Dillard High School Jazz Ensemble!

One of the most successful high school jazz bands in the country is right here in Broward, South Florida, just steps away from I-95. With Sweet Dillard, Miami-based documentarian Jim Virga chronicles the 2014 school year of the Dillard Center for the Arts Jazz Ensemble, and their irrepressible band-leader, Christopher Dorsey.

Dorsey lays down the law from the first beat, calling out his students’ cliques—black and white kids automatically inhabit separate sides of the rehearsal room, something Dorsey won’t tolerate. “You don’t have to like each other, but you gonna respect each other,” Dorsey declares. As he later tells Virga, “If they can’t leave the program saying that they learned about life, about relationships… that’s the biggest thing, when you start dealing with race, to learn more about each other.”

Over the course of Sweet Dillard, we follow several individual students and their families, and learn of the often very serious pressures many of them face while still determinedly showing up at every rehearsal to take their seat in the band. At the end of the year, they travel to New York City for the national championships, determined to make South Florida proud. In our troubled America, these are youth that listen to their teacher—and come out with solutions for living that all of us learn from. – Jaie Laplante


This film is also part of the Knight Documentary Achievement Award film series.

This film is preceded by the short film Hand Built Boat


Sunday March 6th @ 1:00pm O CINEMA MIAMI BEACH Add to Schedule


Director: Jim Virga
Producer: Susan Stocker, Mike Stocker, Dia Kontaxis, Jim Virga
Screenwriter: Dia Kontaxis, Jim Virga

Music: Dillard Jazz Ensemble
Cinematographer: Susan Stocker, Mike Stocker
Editor: Dia Kontaxis

Cast: Christopher Dorsey, Damonn Sands, Ulysses McClover, Sydney Henry, Ben Stocker, Christian Dorsey, Chris Mills, Kim Morton

Jim Virga

Jim Virga has worked as a photojournalist, cinematographer, director and producer. His documentaries have appeared on PBS and numerous international film festivals. His filmography includes Beyond Assignment (12), which world premiered at the Festival. Sweet Dillard (15) is his latest film.