The Greatest Filmmakers in the Miami International Film Festival's 30-Year History

The Miami International Film Festival's acquisition of Dark Blood, River Phoenix's final film, for the 2013 festival is a huge accomplishment -- one that's sure to draw even more attention to the ever-expanding annual event. But it's not exactly a shock. After all, MIFF has been introducing Miami audiences to important films and filmmakers ever since its very first fest in 1984 -- often well before they were discovered by the rest of the country.

In March, MIFF will bring even more exciting new movies to Miami screens. But because 2013 marks the festival's 30th anniversary, celebrations are starting over a month early. Beginning January 26 and running through Feb. 28, MIFF will screen one film from each year of the festival, starting with 1984's Dark Habits and ending with Mariachi Gringo, 2012's opening night film. Along the way, audiences can rediscover some of the biggest names in film directing, including these five favorites.

See also:

- River Phoenix's Last Film to Make U.S. Debut at Miami International Film Festival

Pedro Almodovar

The renowned Spanish director is known today for Spanish language films with the power to break into the U.S. awards circuit, like Volver and Talk to Her. But Miami viewers were some of the first in the country to know his name when MIFF screened Almodovar's Dark Habits in 1984.

Dark Habits shows Jan. 26.

The Coen Brothers

The now-legendary team that produced classics like The Big Lebowski and Fargo, the Coens' first filmmaking effort was 1984's Blood Simple, which screened at MIFF the following year.

Blood Simple shows Jan. 27.

Robert Rodriguez

Okay, so maybe he has a penchant for getting violent with New Times' reporters. (Most people do, to be fair.) Before Rodriguez produced the films Grindhouse and Sin City, he brought El Mariachi to MIFF in 1993.

El Mariachi shows Feb. 6.

Wim Wenders

Wenders' stunningly picturesque Pina, nominated for an Oscar in 2012, remains one of the best -- if not the best -- use of 3-D effect in a film to date. But the German filmmaker owes most of his notoriety to 1999's Buena Vista Social Club, which screened at MIFF that same year.

Buena Vista Social Club shows Feb. 13.

Takashi Miike

Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai, the Japanese director's 2012 effort, revealed him as a master of art-house style. But about 50 movies earlier, Miike was a "crap-and-gore, genre-mincing Tasmanian devil of Asian pulp psychosis." Happily, MIFF's giving you the chance to relive the good ol' days with Audition, which screened in 2002.

Audition shows Feb. 16.

All movie showings take place at Tower Theater; showtime is 7 p.m. each day. Admission costs $4. Visit miamifilmfestival.com for a full list of titles in the retrospective.

Follow Ciara LaVelle on Twitter @ciaralavelle.

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