Bienvenidos a Miami Cinema

Never call Miami's film festivals predictable. New ones pop up, old ones merge, long-standing ones change screening seasons, even the papa of them all -- the FIU Miami International Film Festival -- lost its founder and is headed in a new direction, though what that will be is not yet clear. Now, squeezing in just ahead of Big Daddy (who comes early this year), is the first ever Made in Miami Film & Video Festival. That may sound predictable, but what constitutes made in Miami is far-reaching, so this festival is eclectic. From January 14 through the 20th, the Mercury Theatre will be the home screen to 39 film, TV, and video projects, which must include scenes filmed in Miami or used postproduction facilities here.

The nonprofit festival is backed by the Miami-Dade County film office and the City of Miami, but behind the scenes sit Cesar Canton, Danny Ruiz, Karen Vissepo, and Jack Wolfe. They hauled themselves off to the New York Independent Film and Video Festival in September "to see what they were doing right and what they could do better, and we found we could organize an impressive festival in Miami," says Wolfe.

Beginning opening night on an outdoor big screen in the Mercury courtyard, see what they've found. The first film (most nights have three screenings: 7:00, 9:00, and 11:00 p.m.) will be Camino no Tomado by Ali Habashi, about a Spanish writer observing her life and dreams, followed by the Hollywood action film Cutaway, with Stephen Baldwin and Tom Berenger, and ending with Libertad, based on stories from Cuban prisoners and rafters. (All films will be shown more than once.) Also scheduled: Los Tostones, directed by Julio Blanco, a lighter mob movie in which the made men are as much Calle Ocho as they are Jersey; another mob movie with Cuban sabor and cigars, Smokin' Stogies with Tony Sirico; Rope Art by Thomas Griffith (a winner in the N.Y. festival), about a couple who struggle over the line between obscenity and art -- morally, socially, and legally; and a dreamy short by Miamian Jorge Rubiera, One Million Billionth. Closing out the week on Sunday will be a showcase of MDCC film students. Films will also be shown on the Mercury's indoor screen.

But this is a festival, so there will be pre- and postcocktail parties (in the open air with SurroundSound movies), various programs, docs, and videos, and a Saturday open casting event, when director Griffith will be scouting for teen talent for a new TV show, Some Kind of Friends, from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

For more details and times, see, or call 305-751-7001.


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