It's an offbeat year for the film industry, with theaters barely reopening this month in South Florida and festivals postponed and changed beyond recognition. Two local festivals, the Miami Film Festival and Popcorn Frights, have respectively announced their plans for this month — both fests run virtually October 8-11 — and between them, there looks to be plenty to check out.
The Miami Film Festival will take its usual fall offshoot, Gems, virtual this year, with its titles available throughout the state of Florida. As for Popcorn Frights, the genre fest has teamed up with Boston Underground, Brooklyn Horror, North Bend, and Overlook, for a collaborative virtual festival, entitled Nightstream, that will be available for streaming all over the United States.
The Miami Film Festival announced its lineup last month, including a virtual panel with some of its "10 Latinx to Watch" (a partnership with Variety that zeroes in on talent on the rise), three films that were intended to screen in March but were delayed owing to the pandemic, and more.
Highlights include Emma Seligman's Shiva Baby, about a young Jewish woman navigating an emotionally frantic shiva; Lawrence Michael Levine's Black Bear, which follows a filmmaker seeking relief from her past at a rural retreat, only to find herself confronted by inner demons; and Christian Petzold's Undine, a gorgeous romantic drama that plays with myth and reality by the director of Phoenix and Transit.
In addition to these selections, the festival will screen Kokoloko, Night of the Kings, Rosa's Wedding, Farewell Amor, Out in the Open, This Is Christina, Us Kids, My Prince Edward, Sound of Metal, and three documentaries that are making their Florida premieres: Finding Yingying, We Don't Deserve Dogs, and Women in Blue. Additional films will be announced in the upcoming days — though you might not want to wait: The first 75 people to purchase an All-Access Pass ($75) will receive a movie kit that includes some goodies and snacks for that at-home film experience.
As for Popcorn Frights and Nightstream, the festival will open with Aneesh Chaganty's Hitchcockian thriller Run and close with Quentin Dupieux's Mandibles, a dark comedy about two friends who find a giant fly stuck in the trunk of their car.
The main lineup consists of more than 30 films, including Jonathan Cuartas' My Heart Can't Beat Unless You Tell It To, Jesse Blanchard's Frank & Zed, Vincent Paronnaud's Hunted, Timo Tjahjanto's May the Devil Take You Too, and Katrin Gebbe's Pelican Blood. There's also Nightstream's retro program, which offers restorations and classic features ranging from Canuxploitation films to eight-millimeter Japanese splatterfest versions of Evil Dead.
Nightstream will also offer a number of short film programs, with each respective festival programming its own massive collection of short films that will be judged by their respective juries of filmmakers, critics, programmers, actors, and distributors. And Popcorn Frights will continue its Homegrown series that focuses on South Florida filmmakers and the genre films they create.
As for special events, there are tons of panels, podcasts, and conversations available for audiences. This includes everything from talks with Candyman director Nia DaCosta and American Psycho director Mary Harron to discourse on what makes horror films queer and camp, as well as podcast recordings by Switchblade Sisters and The Witching Hour. The fun doesn't end there, with directors Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead presenting their early home movies, multiple trivia nights, and a unique evening of cocktails, conversation, and secrets every single night of the festival.
Access to film screenings will be limited to the U.S., with ticket bundles on sale for $65 for five features or short film programs and $99 for ten features of short film programs (both bundles coming with unlimited access to events and panels). Event-only badges will be made available worldwide.
Miami Film Festival Gems 2020. Friday, October 8, through Sunday, October 11; miamifilmfestival.com. Tickets cost $9.99 to $80.
Nightstream. Friday, October 8, through Sunday, October 11; nightstream.org. Tickets cost $50 to $99.
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