Brilliant Miami Sunset
A 69 year-old recluse dies broke and alone in her foreclosed condo in an exclusive gated community and isn’t found for four days. When her estranged sister and niece travel to Miami to close out her affairs and gather her remains, they discover the tragic secret she was hiding and must reconcile their guilt of letting her fall off their family radar.
When my aunt Carol died unexpectedly in 2012, my mother and I were far away, and we had been for over a decade. Cryptic emails and CVS gag birthday cards are the only pieces of communication I have from her. However, I sobbed with regret for never visiting my mother’s only sibling: my über-liberal, reclusive lesbian, cigar-smoking, football watching, Francophile, animal rescuer aunt who sent midnight messages through the Teletype on her TV. "We are not the Waltons," she often said. At 12-years old, my aunt knew she was gay, but coming out wasn’t an option in 1954. I believe that the denial of sustained love throughout her life resulted in the loneliness that took her life in the end.
When my aunt died alone in her foreclosed townhouse in an exclusive gated community in Miami Beach, she wasn’t found for four days. A homicide detective contacted my mother. Once she realized it wasn’t spam, we embarked upon the journey to close out my aunt's affairs on the ground. Excavating her chaotic home and personal belongings became a funeral rite. I logged the visual and sensorial experience in my journal, took photographs and collected correspondence of the ordeal. To write this screenplay, I’ve been examining family photographs and documents, archival records, interviewing my mother, and exploring my role as the only torch bearer of her story.