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South Florida's Best Film Festivals

The Square, part of Miami Film Festival's Gems lineup.EXPAND
The Square, part of Miami Film Festival's Gems lineup.
Magnolia Pictures
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Miamians don't have as many arthouses as those spoiled cineastes in New York City, but movie fans in the 305 have plenty to look forward to when it comes to film festivals. Though local celebrations of cinema don't garner the same glamour as Sundance or Tribeca, they’re very good at inclusivity. There’s a festival or section here for nearly every demographic, meaning everyone can see themselves represented on the big screen. Below, find the biggest film events happening in South Florida.

Miami Film Festival: As far as local festivals go, this is the big one. Formerly known as the Miami International Film Festival, MIFF is by far the largest and most robust in terms of programming. Last year’s edition included an impressive array of films, ranging from Cannes Jury Prize winners such as Xavier Dolan’s It’s Only the End of the World to arthouse curiosities like the Yiddish-language Menashe. In addition, the fest awards prizes for documentaries, Ibero-American films, new screenwriters, and short films. Though the next edition won't take place until March 2018, a minifestival, Gems, will happen this October 12 through 15. March 9 through 18, 2018; miamifilmfestival.com.

Prepare for the Coral Orgy.
Prepare for the Coral Orgy.
Courtesy of Coral Morphologic

Borscht Film Festival: Other fests simply bring important films to Miami, but Borscht does things the other way around, drawing national attention to local filmmakers by putting on a festival that's unique, wild, and the most quintessentially Miami film event all year. The results speak for themselves: Borscht cofounder Lucas Levya, who directed a Miami-inspired Arcade Fire video this year, was a force behind Moonlight, introducing director Barry Jenkins to writer Tarell Alvin McCraney. At Borscht, you might see the next Moonlight. Or you might take a hovercraft across Biscayne Bay to view a screening of Waterworld and watch Animal Collective perform at something called “Coral Orgy.” It’ll be a good time regardless. Dates not yet announced; borsc.ht.

120 Beats per MinuteEXPAND
120 Beats per Minute
The Orchard

OUTshine Film Festival: At this biannual event’s latest edition, which began October 6 in Fort Lauderdale, you might see films about transgender women in Japan (Close Knit) and Parisian activists at the height of the AIDS crisis (120 Beats per Minute). You could encounter Sundance darlings about romances in the English countryside (God’s Own Country) or a language going extinct because its only two speakers refuse to talk (I Dream in Another Language). That’s the thing about OUTshine: Though it's an LGBT film festival, its appeal isn't limited to LGBT audiences. October 6 through 15; outshinefilm.com.

Sarah Gadon at MJFF.EXPAND
Sarah Gadon at MJFF.
Courtesy of Miami Jewish Film Festival

Miami Jewish Film Festival: It's no surprise that South Florida, with the third-largest Jewish population in the United States, hosts a film festival specializing in the chosen people. The Miami Jewish Film Festival won't hold its next edition, which will feature a special sidebar celebrating Israel’s 70th birthday, until January 2018, but there’s still plenty happening in the runup to the main event. Take in one of the fest's Israeli Film Nights, or have a learning experience at the Screening the Holocaust Film Series. There’s even an upcoming retrospective of Barbra Streisand, because who doesn’t love Yentl? January 11 through 25, 2018; miamijewishfilmfestival.com.

FLIFF's opening night party, 2013.EXPAND
FLIFF's opening night party, 2013.
New Times archive

Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival: Across the county line, South Florida’s second major city puts on a film festival of its own. Opening October 27 with the new Burt Reynolds film Dog Years, the Fort Lauderdale Film Festival will present a cornucopia of cinematic delights you might not see at other fests. Fictional offerings abound, but documentaries dominate, including Cries From Syria, from the Oscar-nominated director of Winter on Fire; Rumble, about Native Americans working in the music industry; and a look at the life of the celebrated artist Julian Schnabel during his time in the New York art scene in the late '70s and '80s. October 27 through November 19; fliff.org.

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