By Sherilyn Connelly
By Inkoo Kang
By Carolina del Busto
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Melissa Anderson
By Aaron Cutler
By Amy Nicholson
By Alan Scherstuhl
After this year's festival, Guillemet will leave Florida for New York City to live and work closer to her family. An announcement about MIFF's director recruitment efforts is expected after the festival, according to Miami-Dade College president Eduardo J. Padrón, who was unavailable for comment.
No matter who takes the reins, Guillemet feels her successor will inherit something she did not a stable and well-supported MIFF. "The doors are open for the next person heading the team," Guillemet says. "So much more can happen."
Antonia:This Brazilian feature tells the story of an all-girl hip-hop group, from its unlikely origins to dissolution and, ultimately, success. The four young women Preta, Barbarah, Mayah, and Lena come together on the hard streets of São Paulo, where they struggle to eke out a living, hold down relationships, and take care of each other. What elevates the story well above Dreamgirls terrain is the naturalism of the lead actresses; these four women have such uncanny chemistry, Antonia at first has the feel of a documentary. This is especially true of the film's cinematography, which captures the kinetic Brazilian nightlife with an eye for telling detail. Directed by Tata Amaral, the film is also adept at placing its music front and center, alongside its charismatic protagonists, coming together to create an authentic slice of São Paulo street life. Frank Houston March 9 at 9:30 p.m. at the Gusman Center for the Performing Arts, 174 E. Flagler St., Miami.
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Banished:Even with Barack Obama running for president, reparations for slavery and racial cleansing aren't likely to be on the 2008 presidential campaign agenda. The documentary Banished, though, puts forth a quiet but arresting argument that open dialogue must exist between whites and blacks regardless of the bitter feelings it might engender. Director Marco Williams raises our ire as he chronicles three African-American families' attempts to reconcile racial injustices perpetuated against their relatives including, in three counties, the violent expulsion from their homes and the illegal seizure of their property during the early Twentieth Century. There are no happy endings, but Williams doesn't hold anyone guilty for their ancestors' sins. Nor does he offer any concrete solutions. What he does do is issue a rallying cry for all to come together to determine a way to move forward. But when one elected official declares "there's no way to fix it," you can't help but wonder whether Williams's demands will fall on deaf ears. Robert SimsMarch 6 at 9:30 p.m. at Regal South Beach Cinema, 1100 Lincoln Rd., Miami Beach.
Fabricating Tom Zé:By his own admission, Tom Zé is "a terrible composer, a terrible singer, and a terrible instrument player." Luckily this once-forgotten contributor to Brazil's Tropicalia art movement is not so terrible that you won't want to spend time in his company. And you'll quickly learn that you can't take Zé's self-effacement seriously, especially after watching his Spinal Tap-style tantrum during a sound check. But this is the only time that director Décio Matos Júnior portrays Zé as anything other than a harmless kook and a misunderstood musical genius with a knack for penning venue-specific songs minutes before a concert. Captured while touring Europe, the charismatic 70-year-old exudes a roguish charm and a willingness to experiment that's endeared him to his surprising young fans. But by the time Zé performs his last song, there's little doubt that he would have been better served if the conventionally executed Fabricating Tom Zé had possessed a modicum of his audacity and eccentricity. Robert Sims March 5 at 9:00 p.m. at Regal South Beach Cinema, 1100 Lincoln Rd., Miami Beach.
First Snow:Poor Jimmy. Stuck in the middle of nowhere, waiting for his car to be fixed, the fast-talking salesman decides to kill time by visiting a fortuneteller. "I saw no more tomorrows," Jimmy is told. And so director Mark Fergus begins his skillful tightening of the screws, making us guess whether Jimmy will pass away peacefully or bloodily at the hands of any number of business acquaintances he's pissed off. As Jimmy, Guy Pearce cleverly mines his Memento experiences to make whole another man unable to extricate himself from a life-or-death situation over which he has no control. Pearce quietly earns our sympathy as he transforms from a sleazy but charming symbol of dubious get-rich-quick schemes to a jittery, sunken-eyed victim of the cruel fate that awaits him. Not that Fergus and co-writer Hawk Ostby seem too compelled to wrap everything up neatly. But given the mess Jimmy makes for those he screws over, that's all the more appropriate. Robert Sims March 6 at 10:00 p.m. at the Gusman Center for the Performing Arts, 174 E. Flagler St., Miami.
Mississippi Chicken:If Richard Linklater needs to pad the Fast Food Nation DVD with extras, he should scoop up this documentary about Latin American immigrant workers trying to make ends meet in a Mississippi poultry town. The stories of prejudice, rape, murder, employer abuse, and police harassment are truly shameful and heartbreaking. There's money to be made in America, says one devoted mother, but the cost to her family is devastating. Mississippi Chicken puts a human face on the exploitation of immigrant workers and those community members who overcome their prejudices to help them enjoy better lives. Too bad director John Fiege spends more time in his subjects' kitchens than he does on the street. There is one riveting "gotcha" moment between members of a justice advocacy group and an employer over unpaid wages. Sure it's right out of John Stossel's playbook, but it's more revealing than watching the preparation of yet another rice dish. Robert SimsMarch 5 at 6:00 p.m. at the Bill Cosford Cinema at the University of Miami, 5100 Brunson Dr., Coral Gables.
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