Miami’s South Beach wasn’t always the glamorous, glittery paradise that it is today.
I mean, sure, not too long ago, it was basically just a subtropical jungle. But after the city’s rapid growth in the 1920s and ’30s — which saw its famed Art Deco buildings rise on the beachfront — and before its present iteration as a super-chic luxury playground, South Beach was, for a brief period spanning the 1970s, something of a Promised Land for elderly Jews.
This vanished world, in all its coral-hued and palm-bedecked glory, is the focus of a colorful new documentary, The Last Resort. Directed by Dennis Scholl and Kareem Tabsch, the film traces two photographers — Andy Sweet and Gary Monroe, two young friends and collaborators — who launched an ambitious, “10-year project” to document this lively, haimish scene before it disappeared.
Come for the photographs, but stay for the compelling story of the rapid rise and transformations the Magic City (so named for it’s lightning-paced growth), as South Beach reinvented itself from a Vegas-by-the-Sea to a vivacious, short-lived shtetl for Jewish retirees, to a neighborhood blighted by crime and neglect in the 1980s.
The Last Resort documents this through Sweet’s and Monroe’s vibrant, engaging work, which really captures the zeitgeist of the South Beach of yesteryear. Check out these wonderful shots from Sweet, whose own tragic tale mirrors that of his hometown. His story forms the backbone of the film, which opens in New York on Friday, Dec. 21.