Two thousand and thirty two films have been screened by the Festival since it began in 1984, and 1,323 of those since 2004, when the event settled into its now permanent home at Miami Dade College. This coming Friday, March 6th, and for 10 full days running, we will add 124 new films to both statistical columns, carefully selected for our audience’s enjoyment and education.
We’re blessed to have the trust of so many artists who bring their films to Miami International Film Festival. More than 30 of this year’s directors have previously shared their work with us and are unveiling their latest screen creations, including Oscar winners Morgan Neville (Best of Enemies), Susanne Bier (A Second Chance), and Daniel Junge (Being Evel); Oscar nominees Wim Wenders (The Salt of the Earth) and Damián Szifron (Wild Tales); local Miami filmmaking heros Billy Corben & Alfred Spellman (Dawg Fight), and Mark Moormann (The Record Man); and new generation Miami stunners like Ronnie Rivera (“The Sun Like a Big Dark Animal”), working this year with Christina Felisgrau. Other veterans are on screen with us for the first time, and we’re delighted to be launching a number of brilliant newcomers with their first-ever works—some that I am certain will be at future Academy Awards ceremonies as nominees and winners.
France, one of the great cinema producing nations of the world, is having a triumphant year, and it was an uncontested choice to put in our annual spotlight this year. New works by veterans Xavier Beauvois (The Price of Fame), Benôit Jacquot (Three Hearts), Bertrand Bonello (Saint Laurent), and André Techiné (In the Name of My Daughter) carry the spirit and zest of their best works, while a new generation impresses with its wit and verve. Still to come, later this year, is Laurent Canet’s remarkably nuanced and moving Return to Ithaca, filmed in Havana from a script by novelist Leonardo Padura.
Which brings us to Cuba…a long-sought change is in the air, although a change that is still too filled with uncertainty to fully grasp, perhaps most especially here in Miami. As with everything in life, I turn to the work of the artists to approach any kind of understanding. Last fall, at our new “MIFFecito” event, the wisdom of Ernesto Daranas’ Behavior (Conducta) laid bare the essential need to honor those independent filmmakers whose resolve to make that art despite unbelievable frustrations and obstacles. And for that, we pay Tribute this year not just to one filmmaker, but all Cuban filmmakers for whom making art is a must.
As always, welcome and gratitude to all those who create, organize, finance, attend and participate—and especially to the dedicated Festival team, who could win a World Series with their ability to field daily curveballs. Muchísimas gracias! —Jaie Laplante, Executive Director, Miami Dade College’s Miami International Film Festival