Miami Film Festival

MIFF Director Jaie Laplante Talks MIFFecito Lineup at Tower Theater

In celebration of the reopening of Little Havana's beloved art house, Tower Theater, the Miami International Film Festival has announced a four-day mini-film festival featuring exclusive premieres, an opening night party, guests, and a seminar. The festival's director Jaie Laplante has dubbed the little festival MIFFecito in the spirit of the ubiquitous cafecito that defines the taste of the predominantly Cuban-American neighborhood where Tower sits.

The mini festival's film slate includes Behavior (Cuba), directed by Ernesto Daranas; The Blue Car (Germany/Cuba), directed by Valerie Heine; Carmina and Amen (Spain), directed by Paco León; I Can Quit Whenever I Want (Italy), directed by Sydney Sibilia; Lake Los Angeles (U.S.A.), directed by Mike Ott; Life Feels Good (Poland), directed by Maciej Pieprzyca; Paradise (Mexico), directed by Mariana Chenillo; Root (Chile), directed by Matías Rojas Valencia; Spanish Affair (Spain), directed by Emilio Martínez-Lázaro, and Vara: A Blessing (Bhutan/Hong Kong/Sri Lanka), directed by Khyentse Norbu.

See also: Miami International Film Festival To Announce MIFFecito Line-up, Offer Free Cafecito Today

Speaking via phone before jetting off to Toronto to scout 2015 festival films at the Toronto International Film Festival, Laplante explains the significance of Tower Theater to the festival and why this will be a one-time-only event.

"[MIFF], since it has been at Miami Dade College, has always been at the Tower Theater," he said. "It's sort of like one of our traditional venues. Of course, we couldn't use it this year because it was closed at the time, and now that it's re-open we wanted to do something special there."

The revitalized venue features state-of-the-art equipment and has chucked its 35mm projectors, which might upset some purists, but Laplante, who also celebrated the fact that the 2014 festival only projected in digital for the first time, sees it as progress.

"We reopened with Sony 4K projectors, and it's got really gorgeous sound and picture, a big improvement from the Tower before it closed when it was using 35mm, which has its own beauty," he said. "But now we're sort of in the main swim with all the mainstream, first-run theaters."

It's all for the benefit of continuing a program showcasing quality world and indie film, and the 11 films, which also include a short, span tone and the globe. The films showing include works from some veteran MIFF contributors who hail from Bhutan, Cuba, Italy, Mexico, Poland, and Spain.

"The best known is probably Mariana Chenillo," Laplante said. "She's only made one other feature before, but it won the audience award in MIFF 2009 for a film called Nora's Will, and then Nora's Will played at Tower for months afterward. They kept bringing it back by popular demand. It was a huge hit."

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Hans Morgenstern has contributed to Miami New Times for too many decades, but he's grown to love Miami's arts and culture scene because of it. He is the chair of the Florida Film Critics Circle, and most of his film criticism can be found on Independent Ethos ( if not in New Times.

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