It is often said that truth is stranger than fiction, and it is an absolute pleasure when films can capture this sentiment—none of which do so any better than documentaries. In the city of Miami, there are likely more wild, crazy, and diverse stories to capture than there are grains of sand on South Beach.

A broad range of locally inspired and locally made documentary films that tell many of these stories are now set to be screened at the 41st annual Miami Film Festival. One of the most anticipated films that will be shown is Naked Ambition, a story about pin-up model turned photographer Bunny Yeager. The film will premiere on Wednesday, April 10, and is the second collaboration between Kareem Tabsch and Dennis Scholl.

Although Tabsch and Scholl have proven to excel on their own, they have shown to be a winning combination over the years. In an interview, Scholl stated, “We love being 305 filmmakers… There’s a plethora of stories. We’re never without a story, and we love our community.”

Scholl had worked on the idea for a documentary about Yeager for over 10 years, and the film received its world premiere at Doc NYC last year. The filmmaker was inspired to tell the story of this highly influential photographer who is often overlooked despite leaving a lasting impression on pop culture.

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“I was crushed,” Scholl said about his first interaction with Yeager in 2012 when she brushed off the idea. However, he was able to secure an interview with the then 85-year-old Yeager two years later. Unfortunately, she fell ill and was admitted into the hospital the day of the anticipated interview, and never left.

Yeager’s health had caused Scholl to put the idea on the back burner where it sat for almost seven years, but after the success of The Last Resort, Tabsch and Scholl’s first documentary, they knew they needed to make another film together. Armed with inspiration, Scholl retreated to his old Yeager archives and the pair got to work.

Regarding Yeager, the future photographer was born in Pittsburgh and moved to Miami as a teenager. A short time later, she started modeling, and it wasn’t long before she picked up the camera. Of course, this was in the 1950s, when women had much less influence, which is precisely what made her an inadvertent groundbreaker.

“I went into the film thinking that she was a feminist icon and that she would have thought she was a feminist icon because she deserves to be considered as such,” Scholl says while explaining exactly who Yeager was. “And I came out of it understanding how reluctant she was to think of herself that way.”

Tabsch added, “I didn’t really realize how much of a hustler she was. She was always striving for more. The film is called Naked Ambition for a couple of reasons, but she was ambitious, and she was really smart. She understood that while what she was doing was an art, it also had a commercial value.”

Nevertheless, Naked Ambition is not the only film set to screen at the Miami Film Festival, as one particular documentary that understands the intrinsic hustle of Miami, Miami Now, directed by Ramiro Almeida, is also highly anticipated. Miami Now is an episodic series centered on the city and those who help shape it. Every episode focuses on a different subject, and as part of the festival, viewers can watch the first two episodes.

Filmed throughout the Miami area, Miami Now explores the unique perspectives of each person it interviews. From activists and developers to artists, Almeida interviews several familiar figures such as actor Andy Garcia, former Miami-Dade college president Eduardo Padrón, and esteemed singer Gloria Estefan.

The festival is also shining a light on Miami shorts in addition to the full-length features. Viewers can catch six short documentaries on Friday, April 12, at the Bill Cosford Cinema, all of which are about Miami and made in Miami. As part of the Homegrown Docs series is a 4-minute short, titled Uncle Ahol, about an adolescent boy and his artist uncle. The uncle is artist David Anasagasti, better known as Ahol Sniffs Glue.

Additionally, filmmaker Matt Deblinger’s aptly titled documentary Churchill’s, about the closed Little Haiti bar and punk institution Churchill’s Pub, is set to screen as a 15-minute short that takes a deep look into the history of the local dive bar that was beloved by the city’s misfits for years.

Churchill’s was shuttered in 2022 and the building remains abandoned today. The closing of the bar was the source of mystery around the city, and perhaps Churchill’s will offer some answers. The film premieres on Friday, April 12, as part of the Music to My Ears short block.