Go into a dark room with a bunch of strangers and have your mind blown by the power of music and cinema.
This is what happens when the Miami Dade College's Miami International Film Festival hits town. But with more than 100 events in 10 days, it can be tough to select the best of the best.
Well, we've done the dirty work of trudging through the listings. And here are MIFF 2015's five best music movies.
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Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck. Directed by Brett Morgen. 9:30 p.m. Friday, March 6, at O Cinema Miami Beach, 500 71st St., Miami Beach; 305-571-7790; o-cinema.org. Tickets cost $13 via miamiff-tickets.com. The original "Montage of Heck" is a cassette-tape masterpiece of abstract sound art rendered from various bits of radio chatter found across the frequency spectrum and desperately glued together by Kurt Cobain in 1988. His sarcastic manipulation of the sounds into a creeping pastiche of subliminal chaos is not dissimilar from the vein in which he worked with Nirvana. This film is the first authorized Cobain biography. And it is sliced and chopped with bits and pieces of unreleased songs and home movies. The result is an intimate doc that's shocking and revealing for lifelong fans and the uninitiated alike.
Paco de Lucía: A Journey. Directed by Curro Sánchez Varela. 4 p.m. Saturday, March 7, at Tower Theater (1508 SW Eighth St., Miami; 305-643-8706; towertheatermiami.com) and 9:45 p.m. Sunday, March 8, at Regal South Beach (1120 Lincoln Rd., Miami Beach; 305-674-6766; regmovies.com). Tickets cost $13 via miamiff-tickets.com. In 2014, Paco de Lucía, the greatest flamenco guitarist of all time, died unexpectedly of heart failure. Millions of fans around the world mourned the loss of this tremendous talent. Born into the music, Paco spent a lifetime perfecting it, and this film follows him, from the moment when he first picked up a six-string to the day when he outshone his brother on the instrument to his later life as a universally admired virtuoso. Directed by Paco's own son, with the same love and intensity that his father gave the guitar, this debut documentary feature is a portrait that could not have been painted by anybody else.
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13 Million Voices. Directed by Janelle Gueits. 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 11, and 4 p.m. Saturday, March 14, at Tower Theater, 1508 SW Eighth St., Miami; 305-643-8706; towertheatermiami.com. Tickets cost $13 via miamiff-tickets.com. This documentary's director, Janelle Gueits, says the Peace Without Borders concert that she helped produce in Havana on September 20, 2009, was the world's largest peace concert ever, with over a million assembled to spread its joyful message. Now she has made the movie to prove it. Combining guerrilla Flip cam footage and slick interview sequences, this film captures the trials, tribulations, and triumphs of ten years, between 2004 and 2014, from the early stages of organizing the concert to the day when normalized U.S.-Cuba relations became a reality. For years, TV professional Janelle, her brother Chris, and a cast of talented friends worked to give voice to Cuban youth. But when their lamentations were ignored, they did something that could not be, and collaborated with Juanes on a free concert that would shake the world.
Sweet Micky for President. Directed by Ben Patterson. 9:30 p.m. Friday, March 13, at O Cinema Miami Beach, 500 71st St., Miami Beach; 305-571-7790; o-cinema.org. Tickets cost $13 via miamiff-tickets.com. Sweet Micky, AKA Michel Martelly, may be the world's only acting president to have worked in hotel lounges, performing for the super-rich while wearing pieces of women's clothes and turning lewd sexual innuendo into popular kompa tracks. The Haitian entertainer shocked the world when he entered the political arena in 2010. That he was backed by Pras of the Fugees, and had to face Wyclef as a campaign adversary, is nearly dadaist in its perfect absurdity. This is the story of how Sweet Micky came to power and what that really means.
The Record Man. Directed by Mark Moormann. 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 10, at Regal South Beach, 1120 Lincoln Rd., Miami Beach; 305-674-6766; regmovies.com. Tickets cost $13 via miamiff-tickets.com. This documentary by Grammy-nominated director Mark Moormann tells the life story of Henry Stone, from his early days as a Bronx-born trumpet player to his achievements as a pioneering titan of independent music. Not only did Stone lead the way in the distribution of African-American R&B, he created the first global disco hit, topped the pop charts as much as the Beatles, and influenced billions of record sales from his longtime headquarters in Miami. You will leave the theater with no doubt that the Magic City's own Stone was a true vinyl mastermind and the world's ultimate record man.
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