By Ciara LaVelle
By Calum Marsh
By Voice Media Group
By Peter Gerstenzang
By Sherilyn Connelly
By Inkoo Kang
By Carolina del Busto
By Alan Scherstuhl
For myself, I'd be happy for the thing to be malign memory; in fact, I more or less wrote that in these pages back in 1989 and 1990. But pity the poor critic who, having stated the obvious - that the festival is a downwardly mobile white elephant - is nonetheless forced by editorial policy to essentially swallow his critical fire and trudge on, as Bill Cosford of the Miami Herald has done. In September 1990, Cosford wrote: "The Miami Film Festival, as we have come to know and love it, is dead." Citing a decline in independent funding and the City of Miami's refusal to renew a $100,000 grant, meaning for all intents and purposes "no theater, no celebrities, no parties," Cosford suggested it was just as well. He came up with a novel idea, though: move the festival to South Beach, where a "young, smart, hoping to be hip" crowd will ensure a vital response.
Well, I don't know how smart these young, hopeful hipsters in South Beach truly are, but Cosford was quite right about providing a better setting for what should be above all a small film festival. Enacting it at Gusman Center (where, admittedly, the opening-night showing of The Mambo Kings was sold-out) is only an extension of the festival director's Wellesian ego. Indeed, Cosford also made the point in his column last Thursday that filling Gusman's 1800 seats is a pipe dream. A bloody expensive pipe dream at that.
Did I forget la divina Sophia? Well, I didn't, but Sophia Loren's participation at the festival, culminating this weekend with her performance in Lina Wertmuller's adaptation of Saturday, Sunday, Monday, plus the party at Williams Island, is strictly public-relations quid pro quo - Sophia using Nat to honor her commitment to Williams Island, Nat hoping Sophia will help raise some money for the festival.
So what is the answer to the original question? I still don't know. But one thing's certain: The Miami Film Festival is to our cinematic aspirations what Ronald Reagan was to our economy. Maybe even less.
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