Miami film buffs, clear your calendars. The 30th anniversary of the Miami International Film Festival is upon us, featuring 10 straight days of celeb-studded documentaries, world premieres, and critically acclaimed tributes.
This year's lineup will feature 117 feature films and 12 shorts from a total of 41 countries. Notable mentions include Venus and Serena, a documentary on the superstar siblings; River Phoenix's last flick, Dark Blood; and Viggo Mortensen flaunting flawless Spanish in Everybody Has a Plan.
This morning's press conference opened with a clip from MIFF, circa 1987. Spotted were Candice Bergen and late hubby director Louis Malle; Jeff Goldblum and Wallace Shawn; plus scores of shoulder pads and sequins.
MIFF Executive Director Jaie LaPlante then took the stage to announce the extensive lineup of screenings and swank events. The festival will open on Friday, March 1 with the feel-good feature, Twenty Feet From Stardom, which follows women like Darleen Love and Judith Hill who've toiled for years as back-up singers to the likes of Bruce Springsteen and the Rolling Stones. Afterwards, a gala will be held at the Dupont Building in downtown. Saturday will open the competition categories, including the screening of Mortensen in Everybody Has a Plan.
In addition, the festival will pay special tribute to directors Fernando Trueba and Lasse Hallstrom. There'll be the signature CINEDWNTWN gala series at the Olympia Theater, including the world premiere of Miami-based feature film Eenie Meenie Miney Moe from Jokes Yanes. Festival competition categories will include the Knight Ibero-American Competition, where 10 dramatic works including Everybody Has a Plan by Ana Piterbarg and Cinco De Mayo: The Battle by Rafa Lara will compete for $40,000 in prizes; the Knight Documentary Competition; the Lexus Ibero-American Opera Prime Competition and the University of Miami Shorts Competition.
New this year is Lee Brian Schrager's Culinary Cinema series; a Spotlight on China series; and two specialty series screening exclusively at O Cinema: Mayhem, a collection of cult films including Animals by Marcal Fores; and Visions, featuring experimental, cutting edge works including Bob Wilson's Life and Death of Marina Abramovic by Glada Colagrande.
Festivities will wrap up at the Awards Night gala on March 9 with the screeningVenus and Serenaand a gala party at MDC's Freedom Tower.
Special surprise guest Ruth Shack, former President of the Dade Community Foundation (now known as The Miami Foundation) and Miami legend, spoke to press about the early days of MIFF.
"The audacity of the idea blew us all away. If you've been here for any length of time, you've been here for the beginning of almost anything that happened in Miami. Our modern history is so short," Shack said.
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"This was one of the most audacious, most visionary, most exciting concepts to come along. Were I to say there was skepticism that it would last, I would have others who would agree with me, but the sheer joy of having made it 30 years later is rather remarkable."
And how have things changed in the past 30 years? "I can guarantee that every 10 years there is a difference in every discipline in Miami-Dade County. We continue to grow, to evolve, to catch up and more often than not to lead in the field. This decade is very exciting," Shack said.
In total, the festival will feature 12 world premieres, seven international premieres, 13 North American premieres, and 15 U.S. premieres. Not to mention multiple galas, competitions, master class seminars, retrospectives, and more from March 1 through 10 at various venues around town including the Gusman, the Tower Theater and Coral Gables Art Cinema. Because we couldn't begin to list it all here, film buffs can check out the full lineup at miamifilmfestival.com.