The Bagel Cafe

"The Bagel Cafe" is a poignant documentary that transports viewers to the heart of South Florida's real estate boom in 2004. Against the backdrop of rapid development and gentrification, this idiosyncratic film offers a unique perspective on the final days of the Bagel Cafe, a beloved diner with a three-decade history in North Bay Village, now slated for demolition.

The director, embracing the simplicity and intimacy of digital filmmaking, turns his lens on the diverse and vibrant community that has found solace in the Bagel Cafe over the years. Through candid interviews and observational storytelling, the film captures the warm humanity of its patrons and employees, painting a vivid picture of their lives as they grapple with the impending loss of this cherished establishment.

"The Bagel Cafe" takes viewers on a journey that is by turns droll, deeply moving, and subtly philosophical. It's a testament to the power of human connection and resilience in the face of a rapidly changing world. This poetic and timeless documentary is an exploration of kindness, community, and the enduring spirit of a place that holds a special meaning for so many.

  • Mikhael Levy
  • Carlos Fabián Medina
  • Project Type:
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 10 minutes 17 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    November 20, 2023
  • Production Budget:
    5,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - Mikhael Levy

Mikhaël Levy was born in Paris, France in 1974. He held his first solo show in Paris in 1993 and was represented by Gallerie de L'Europe. In 2001, his work was shown at the Parisian fair "Jeunes et Grands Peintres d'Aujourd'hui." Followed a series of travels. In 2003, seeking subtropical light and a new bohemia he joined the nascent artists' community and the alternative gallery scene that had emerged in Miami's Wynwood district before it was dismantled by development in the mid-2010s. In 2020, under the pen name Scarr, he published at Plica Press books of drawings: "Reading Freud will not Cure You", "A Day in Kakistocracy", and an experimental graphic novel "…and the Pursuit of Nothingness".

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Director Statement

In 2004, I'd wrap up my night shift at a South Beach hotel and head to the Bagel Cafe for breakfast. It wasn't just a diner; it was a stage set with cracked tiles, worn-out stools, a horseshoe counter, and characters straight out of a movie. When news hit that developers marked it for demolition, I sought to preserve the moments that made the Bagel Cafe a living, breathing story.

I bought a camcorder, not the fanciest gear, but it captured the raw beauty of that place—the quirky customers, the weary waitresses, and their tales etched into the diner's walls. There was a cinematic quality to it all, a poetic realism.

The Bagel Cafe wasn't just a breakfast joint; it was a canvas of humanity, a story of a community under siege. Gentrification loomed large, threatening to erase more than mom n' pop's -- it menaced the sense of belonging and togetherness.

Twenty years passed, and when I stumbled upon those old tapes which I thought lost, it struck me how little had changed. Gentrification continues to push people away. In its wake, it leaves more than just new developments; it erodes our sense of place and belonging, shatters our feeling of togetherness, and chips away at our shared humanity.

The march of 'progress' bulldozes neighborhoods, silences the eccentric charm, and replaces it with soulless developments. The Bagel Cafe isn't just a tale of a disappearing diner; it's a reflection of America's urban evolution, where the authentic yields to the allure of the new, where character is sacrificed for conformity, and where vulnerable communities are being swept away.