New MIFF Director Talks Favorite Films and Miami Audiences

While we had MIFF's new director, Jaie Laplante, on the horn last week, verifying his role in Frisk, we also asked him how he characterizes Miami's

film tastes and which films he ranks among his personal favorites.

A native of Alberta, Canada who holds a BFA in film production from

Toronto's York University, Laplante moved to Miami in 1998. During that time, he also segued from creating films to facilitating

how and when they were received by audiences as a programmer. "I found that my creative

impulses and my desire to bring art to the audiences could also be

satisfied in another way, which is programming. If you create art and

show it in the theater and nobody's there - does it even exist? To me,

there's tremendous creative satisfaction out of getting people to see a

film that they were meant to see."

He's had a hand in programming a variety of Miami cultural events: the

Miami Short Film Festival, the South Beach  Wine and Food Festival, and

the Miami Gay and Lesbian Film Festival. Kareem Tabsch, who worked with

Laplante at MGLFF, thinks Miami Dade College made the right choice.

"Jaie brings a harmonious balance of knowledge, passion and an

exceptional eye for film with the experience of very successfully

running large event-based organization with a savvy and fiscally sound

approach. It's hard to find someone who understands both," Tabsch explained.

Still, MIFF has had a revolving door of directors over the years as it seems Miami is a

particularly difficult film audience to please. After 12 years in the city and

his experience with other festivals, Laplante believes he knows what kind of

cinema clicks with local crowds.

"I think the fact that we're tropical zone

9 has a lot to do with the type of work that people respond to. Miami

responds to film that has a lot of passion, color, flare. It's a city

that isn't as interested in the more cerebral or quiet, dark work that

comes from some Northern European countries. Not to say that there isn't

a place for those films in our festivals, but in general, I think it's those works with grand emotions that really excite

Miami audiences the most. At MIFF, we want to turn an eye to the world

and bring the best of every corner of the globe to Miami. It's a city of

passionate people, that's why I love it so much."

It's much too early to start anticipating films for the next MIFF, so we thought we'd chip away at

the mystery by finding out Laplante's top five favorite films. Here they

are in chronologaical order. Notice any theme?

1. Vertigo (1958, Alfred Hitchcock) - A dream-like visual poem of a romantic obsession.

2. Mala Noche (1985, Gus van Sant) - A ground-breaking independent "grunge" film about a romantic obsession.

3. The Decalogue (1989, Krzysztof Kieslowski) - Okay, no romantic

obsession here. But the 10 short films that make up this work touch me

again and again on every level: moral, spiritual, ethical,


4. The Piano (1993, Jane Campion) - A beautiful, painterly work about a

romantic obsession, with a truly passionate performance by Holly Hunter.

5. Talk to Her (2002, Pedro Almodovar) - My personal favorite of this

much-loved-by-Miami director's work. A rich, multi-layered parable of

romantic obsession.

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