Five films in the lineup are the first selections of the season to compete for the festival's top honor, the $40,000 Knight Marimbas Award. The competition includes Bong Joon-ho's Palme d'Or winner Parasite (the festival's closer), François Ozon's By the Grace of God, Chinonye Chukwu's Clemency, Céline Sciamma's Portrait of a Lady on Fire, and Neus Ballús' Staff Only.
A centerpiece of the festival will be Brazilian filmmaker Fernando Meirelles' The Two Popes, starring Anthony Hopkins and Jonathan Pryce. Three additional films will receive Spotlight screenings at Gems: Alma Har'el's Honey Boy, written by and starring Shia LaBeouf and loosely based on his own experiences; Edward Norton's Motherless Brooklyn, which he wrote and stars in; and Hirokazu Kore-eda's The Truth, his first feature outside Japan, starring Catherine Deneuve, Ethan Hawke, and Juliette Binoche.
The Truth will be accompanied by David Gaddie's short film Beautiful Dreamer because both were inspired by the Chinese-American author Ken Liu. His short story "Memories of My Mother" is featured prominently in Kore-eda's film and was adapted for Gaddie's short. The festival is dedicating the screening to Liu.
Dani de la Orden's drama Litus will compete for the Ibero-American Feature Film Award. Vying for the Documentary Achievement Award is Alan Berliner's Letter to the Editor, an ode to free press comprising personal archives of photographs culled from the New York Times over 40 years. The festival will dedicate the screening to Miami Herald reporter Julie K. Brown, who recently received a George Polk Award for Perversion of Justice, her 2018 series about the crimes of Jeffrey Epstein.
Rounding out the Gems lineup are two comedies that were box office smashes in their home countries: Wayne Blair's Top End Wedding, hailing from Australia, and the Spanish-Argentine production Taxi to Treasure Rock, directed by Alejo Flah.
Miami Dade College’s Miami Film Festival Gems 2019. October 10 through 13 at Tower Theater, 1508 SW Eighth St., Miami; 305-237-2463; towertheatermiami.com. Tickets for Gems 2019 will go on sale exclusively for Miami Film Society members Thursday, September 5. Tickets for the general public go on sale Thursday, Sept 12, via miamifilmfestival.com.