From a jazzy animated love story set in pre-Castro Cuba to the chronicle of a chimp that was raised as a human, there's something for almost everyone at Miami International Film Festival, which will screen 100 films from 40 countries beginning this week.
There are Oscar-nominated films, international films, the requisite local-focus films, a film that presciently foreshadows the popular uprising in Egypt, and even a film starring rapper Fifty Cent as a football star with cancer. And if your preference is nonfiction, MIFF has also gone doc-crazy with 15 documentaries from ten countries, ranging in topic from the dying newspaper industry to a Liberian warrior who fought ass-bare in battle.
As always, a highlight of the festival is the Florida Focus series that will showcase the work of local talents and filmmakers. Among this year's notable entries is Bill Bilowit's Making S***Up, an eclectic documentary about eccentric and talented local conceptual artist Bert Rodriguez's battle with the personal demons that inspire his work.
This year's featured documentary is Morgan Spurlock's The Greatest Movie Ever Sold. Spurlock burst onto the scene in 2004 with his Academy Award-nominated month-long-McDonald's-binge flick Super Size Me. This time around, Spurlock examines how modern advertising impacts our minds and wallets, through corporate branding and product placement, as he comically seeks corporate sponsors to finance his film.
MIFF will also host a Career Achievement Tribute on Sunday, March 6, to honor Danish filmmaker Susanne Bier (Brothers, After the Wedding, Things We Lost in the Fire). The Festival will screen her latest film, the 2011 Golden Globe winner for Best Foreign Film, In a Better World.
"Dreams are a key theme of MIFF 2011," says Film Fest Executive Director Jaie Laplante. "The directors of these films are a true 'dream team' of cinematic artists. Their work will bestow a wizardly enchantment on this year's MIFF ticket buyers."
Here are reviews for some of the less talked about, but no less fantastic and enthralling, flicks at MIFF: