MANY HAPPY RETURNS

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.

Best of Enemies, A Second Chance, Being Evel

Best of Enemies, A Second Chance, Being Evel

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 Earthand 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.

The Price of Fame, Three Hearts, Saint Laurent

The Price of Fame, Three Hearts, Saint Laurent

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 DaranasBehavior (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

FIVE Opening Night Film Events for 32nd Festival

Patrón Opening Night Party

Patrón Opening Night Party

Wild Tales (Relatos salvajes) will easily stand as one of the most buzzed-about Opening Nights in Miami International Film Festival history—advance ticket sales already ended last week, more than two weeks in advance, and only a RUSH LINE option remains—but you can still get a chance to meet director Damián Szifron at the Patrón Opening Night Gala party by purchasing a ticket today, while those party tickets are still available. Get treated to some fine entrée samples from Miami Argentine restaurants and an all-new Patrón dessert surprise!

Did you know that the Festival actually has FIVE Opening Night films to choose from? Each Festival venue is opening with its own film, and tickets for our Calle Ocho, Miami Beach and Coral Gables openings are still available. Kick off your Festival with one of the four other fantastic options and then join all the filmmakers in town at the Freedom Tower party immediately following your screening.

Being Evel

Being Evel

Oscar-winning (from 2012) director Daniel Junge will be personally presenting the O Cinema Miami Beach opening with his film Being Evel, a thrilling look at the legendary daredevil Evel Knievel, and the complex personality behind that legend. This is also the first of 23 documentaries that you can vote on to give away $10,000 cash for the Knight Documentary Achievement Award, and attending (and voting!) will automatically enter you to win a year’s worth of free movies at Cinépolis in Coconut Grove.

A Girl at My Door

A Girl at My Door

Opening Coral Gables Art Cinema is first-time feature director and Jordan Alexander Ressler Screenwriting Award nominee July Jung. She brings us the dangerous, thrilling mystery A Girl at My Door, in which a recovering alcoholic cop is given one shot at redemption—but a damaged young girl may stand in her way of getting back her sanity.

Partners in Crime

Partners in Crime

See what’s up with tomorrow’s youth in another thriller, Partners in Crime, that opens Regal South Beach Cinemas. Not the most popular kids in their high school, three teenage boys become amateur detectives as they suspect a fellow classmate of bullying another classmate to death—but the tables turn to a race to prove the truth.

Aaron Moorhead; Kristen Nyman, Joey DeSantino

Aaron Moorhead; Kristen Nyman, Joey DeSantino

Equally exciting will be the talent of Miami’s young filmmakers at the 5th annual Cinemaslam competition at MDC’s Tower Theater, where jury president Aaron Moorhead (Spring) will be unveiling the grand prize winner from 11 finalists, seven of which are from Miami Dade College.

Don’t be left waiting out in the RUSH LINE for any of your FOUR remaining Opening Night options, or any of our Argentine films as well—will one of these be Argentina’s Oscar entry next year? Butterfly (Mariposas), Sunstrokes (Las insoladas), Easy Sex Sad Movies (Sexo fácil, películas tristes), or Tango Glories (Fermín  glorias del tango)?  – Jaie Laplante

U.S. Premiere of Multiple Goya Winner MARSHLAND Added to Festival Lineup

Raúl Arévalo and Javier Gutíerrez in Marshland

Raúl Arévalo and Javier Gutíerrez in Marshland

Miami Dade College’s Miami International Film Festival has just scored the U.S. Premiere of Marshland (La isla mínima), a stylish thriller which last week became the third highest Goya-awarded film in history—only The Sea Inside and Ay, Carmela! have won more—making it a worth-the-wait late addition to our CineDwnTwn Galas presented by Miami DDA program.

Set in 1980, in the swampy lowlands of the Guadalquivir River in southern Spain, Alberto Rodríguez’s Marshland is an atmospheric, highly skilled detective story with an eerie sense of unease. Two teenage girls have disappeared after a local fiesta, and two mismatched and troubled cops from Madrid arrive to investigate—Juan (Javier Gutíerrez, winner of the Best Actor Goya) and Pedro (Raúl Arévalo, in a very different role than his comedic turn in the Festival’s awards night film, Sidetracked). The two outsider detectives are greeted with suspicion and hostility from the townspeople, including the victims’ parents. Ensnarled in sordid discoveries and clues that only deepen the confusion and mystery, Marshland explores more than a potential murder—rife with political nuance, it upends a conservative faction in a Spain still traumatized by the harsh light of post-Franco liberalism.

Director Alberto Rodríguez hails from Seville, Spain. His first feature, The Pilgrim Factor (2000), co-directed with Santi Amodeo, won the Best New Director award at San Sebastian Film Festival. As a solo director, his filmography includes The Suit (2002); 7 Virgins (2005), which won a Special Mention in the Knight Ibero-American Dramatic Competition at the 2006 Miami International Film Festival; After (2009) and Unit 7 (2012).

Marshland will have its U.S. Premiere at Olympia Theater at Gusman Center on Thursday, March 12 at 9:45 PM, following the screening of Kamikaze.  [more info & tickets]  — Tatyana Chiocchetti

Win Free Movies for One Year

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The new Cinépolis movie theater in Coconut Grove will be giving one lucky Miami International Film Festival attendee an incredible prize of their own: a double-guest pass good for complimentary admission to the theater every day, any day for a full 365 days.

All you have to do to be eligible is purchase a ticket to at least one of the 24 films in this year’s Festival vying for the audience-voted $10,000 cash Knight Documentary Achievement Award, fill out your ballot after the screening (including your full name, phone number & email), and drop it in the ballot box at the exit.

Ballot box designates films eligible for Knight Documentary Achievement Award.

Ballot box designates films eligible for Knight Documentary Achievement Award.

The more films in this category you attend, and vote, the more chances you have to win. As you plan your Festival schedule, make sure to include at least one film that is eligible for the Knight Documentary Achievement Award, indicated by the red ballot box symbol on the film’s webpage.

Not only will you be helping your favorite documentary filmmaker out with the chance to win $10,000 cash, each time you vote, you’ll be entered for a drawing that will take place at the Patrón XO Igloo Café Awards Night Party, presented by The Historic Alfred I. Dupont Building courtesy of The TILIA Companies on Saturday, March 14.

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With today being President’s Day, consider adding Morgan Neville and Robert Gordon’s Best of Enemies to your shopping carts. A riveting series of explosive TV debates between Gore Vidal and William F. Buckley Jr., as Republicans and Democrats met in 1968 to choose their presidential candidates—this slice of American and Miami Beach history is not to be missed.

Neville, who won an Oscar for 20 Feet From Stardom, will be on hand for this special Miami Manifesto presentation—showing extra footage not included in the final film during an extended conversation with programmer Thom Powers following the screening at 1:00 PM on Sunday, March 8 at Coral Gables Art Cinema. Your ticket includes a post-screening reception sponsored by SundanceNOW Doc Club at the theater.  – Jaie Laplante
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GUEST BLOG: Cheryl Boone Isaacs & The Oscars, by Kevin Sharpley

Cheryl Boone Isaacs

Cheryl Boone Isaacs

The Academy Awards, the biggest event in film is coming soon, and so is my favorite event in film, Miami Dade College’s Miami International Film Festival, and I’m truly as excited as I’ve ever been! Although I have accomplished quite a bit in my career, including a film that features Daryl Hannah, Michael Chiklis, and Tommy Flanagan (some of my favorite actors), which was an official selection at the 2012 Miami International Film Festival; a documentary narrated by Danny Glover (one of my favorite actors growing up); and being inducted into Miami Dade College’s Hall of Fame last year. But what I am most proud of is coming on Tuesday, March 10th at Miami International Film Festival. One of my personal heroes, Cheryl Boone Isaacs, will be conducting a master class at O Cinema Miami Beach at 7:00 PM—and I helped make it happen! As the current President of the Academy for Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, the first African American to hold that position, Cheryl will be discussing her illustrious career, providing an insider’s view of Hollywood. As Paramount’s executive vice president of worldwide publicity, she orchestrated the marketing campaigns for Best Picture winners Forrest Gump and Braveheart, then served as president of theatrical marketing for New Line Cinema, and now heads her own company, CBI Enterprises, Inc. She has consulted on several films, including Best Picture winners The King’s Speech and The Artist.

12 Years a Slave director Steve McQueen and Lupita Nyong’o's

Oscar winners: 12 Years a Slave director Steve McQueen and actress Lupita Nyong’o

Last year was Boone Isaacs’ first as the head of the Academy, and was a banner year for diversity. 12 Years A Slave, starring Chiwetel Ejiofor in the lead role—which earned him an Oscar nomination—won three Academy Awards, including Best Picture. The film, directed by Steve McQueen, was the first time a black person took home a Best Director Oscar. Best Supporting Actress was also won by a person of color, African actress Lupita Nyong’o for the same film. There was also a nomination for first-time actor Barkhad Abdi of the film Captain Phillips, a black man of Ethiopian descent, and now one of my favorite actors. This year, there has been an outcry about the lack of diversity in the nominations for the Academy Awards. Although Cheryl Boone Isaacs is the President of the Academy, she has no voting capability. That is left to the over 6,000 members of the organization, many current and former film industry professionals. Nevertheless, she has instituted measures that will provide more diversity in the future.

Cheryl Boone Isaacs recently stated “We are very active about increasing diversity throughout the Academy and recognition of talent, and it will increase. I think what is important, and what we cannot lose sight of, is the fact that the discussion of motion pictures and filmmaking has gotten broader, and we are very happy to be involved in that discussion.” Last year the Academy inducted 271 new members, including 12 Years A Slave supporting-actress winner Lupita Nyong’o and comedian Chris Rock. I believe that Mrs. Boone Isaacs has taken important steps toward ensuring increased diversity in the future. To have an African American woman at the head of the Academy for Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences is an indication of the change that’s already happening. Substantive change takes time, but having a person of color at the helm making changes will help to provide more diverse opportunities in the future.

I’m truly excited to hear from Mrs. Boone Isaacs about what’s happening for the Academy Awards, now and for the future, and to hear insights from her remarkable career. As a person of color, the pride I feel to have Cheryl Boone Isaacs as the President of one of the biggest organizations in the film world can’t be measured. And to have her here in Miami for an in-person conversation is a treasure I will long remember. I look forward to being there, front and center. You’ll find me on stage making introductions, and when I leave the stage, I’ll be glued to my seat waiting to experience the wealth of knowledge Mrs. Boone Isaacs has to offer! [ more info & tickets ] – Kevin Sharpley

An Amazing 34 Goya Nominations!

Miami Dade College’s Miami International Film Festival continues to demonstrate its close connections with Spain’s best contemporary cinema, as Spain’s Academia de Cine gets set to hand out its 29th set of Goya Awards this coming weekend, on February 7th at the Centro de Convenciones y Congresos Principe Felipe in Madrid.

This year, the Festival’s programming has recorded a total of 34 nominations.

Ricardo Darín in Wild Tales

Ricardo Darín in Wild Tales

Leading the Festival titles with nine nominations is Wild Tales (Relatos salvajes), our March 6th Opening  Night film, already nominated for a Best Foreign Language Film Oscar (representing Argentina). Yet Wild Tales was co-produced by Spain’s El Deseo (brothers Pedro and Agustín Almodóvar), making it eligible for the Spanish Oscars as well. The film’s nominations include Best Picture, Best Actor for Ricardo Darín, Best Screenplay and Best Director for Damián Szifron.

Flowers, Shrew's Nest, Paco de Lucia: A Journey

Flowers, Shrew’s Nest, Paco de Lucía: A Journey

Close behind is Magical Girl with seven nominations, including Best Picture. The neo-noir film is screening in the Festival’s Visions section at MDC’s Tower Theater on Saturday, March 7 at 9:15 PM. Also nominated in the Best Picture category is the lovely and deeply touching Flowers (Loreak), the Basque region film featured in the Festival’s Cinema 360° presented by Viendomovies program. Flowers will also play at MDC’s Tower Theater, on Tuesday, March 10 at 7:00 PM, and will repeat at Cinépolis in Cocowalk on Thursday, March 12 at 6:30 PM.

Paco de Lucía: A Journey (Paco de Lucía: La búsqueda), making its North American premiere at the Festival, has three nominations, including Best Documentary. Unusual for a documentary film, the director, Currio Sánchez Varela, also received the distinction of a nomination in the Best New Director category. The premiere is set for MDC’s Tower Theater on Saturday, March 7 at 4:00 PM, with a repeat screening the next day at Regal Cinemas South Beach at 9:45 PM.

The thriller Shrew’s Nest (Musarañas), also received three nominations, including one for Macarena Gómez’s star turn, in the Best Actress category. The spine-tingling scary film will play, naturally, on Friday the 13th of March, at MDC’s Tower Theater at 9:45 PM. Up against Gómez in the Best Actress category is Elena Anaya for They Are All Dead (Todos están muertos), a film playing in the Festival’s Lexus Opera Prima Ibero-American Competition at the Cinépolis on Monday, March 9 at 9:30 PM, with a repeat screening at the Coral Gables Art Cinema on Wednesday, March 11, also at 9:30 PM. They Are All Dead director Beatriz Sanchís is also up for a Best New Director Goya.

A handful of films introduced to Miami by the Festival at our fall mini-Festival, MIFFecito, are also nominated in key categories: MIFFecito’s opening night film, Behavior (Conducta) is the Cuban nominee for Best Foreign Film in the Spanish Language; and the massive MIFFecito hit Spanish Affair (Ocho apellidos vascos) has five Goya nominations, including Karra Elejalde and Carmen Machi as Best Supporting Actor and Actress, respectively. Carmina y amén received one nomination; as did the 2014 Festival film Open Windows; and this year’s Cinema 360° feature, Beautiful Youth (Hermosa juventud), with a Best New Actress nomination for Ingrid García Jonsson.

Congratulations to all the nominees! The Festival looks forward to sharing the very fine work of the Spanish film industry during our 32nd edition, March 6 – 15th.  – Jaie Laplante

Canada & Comedy

One of Canada’s greatest entertainment exports has long been its seemingly endless supply of talented comedians. Just putting Canada and comedy in the same sentence instantly brings to mind the classic sketch comedy show SCTV, through which such comic geniuses as Martin Short, John Candy, Harold Ramis, Catherine O’Hara, Rick Moranis, Andrea Martin, Eugene Levy and many others launched inspired international careers. And then there’s Jim Carrey, Mike Myers, Dan Ackroyd, Seth Rogan, Will Arnett, Tommy Chong, Leslie Nielsen, Tom Green

This year’s Miami Dade College’s Miami International Film Festival will highlight three new Canadian comedians – Pat Mills, Sonja Bennett, and Dan Abramovici—whom we feel certain will soon find themselves with the same household recognition in the U.S. that their veteran counterparts enjoy. With the Festival’s renowned capacity for being ahead-of-the-mainstream-curve, don’t miss a first chance to meet this talented, rapidly ascending trio.

Guidance

Guidance

Leading off the list is a Festival coup—the U.S. premiere of GuidancePat Mills wrote, directed and stars as David Gold, a thirtysomething former child star, full-time narcissist and completely out-of-work actor who desperately impersonates a qualified high school guidance counselor and lands himself a job doling out advice to troubled teens. Essentially still stuck in his adolescence himself, David is an immediate hit with the student body, doling out vodka shots and prescribing pot as immediate solutions to insecurities and anxieties. Mills’ screwball comedy approach is perfectly in line with his character’s out-of-whack unconventionality. The film will play at the Coral Gables Art Cinema on Thursday, March 12 at 9:30pm.

Preggoland

Preggoland

Vancouver-based actress Sonja Bennett wrote the script for Preggoland, in which she stars as Ruth, a party girl whose hootin’ and hollerin’ ways are no longer too attractive to her pack of gal pal friends as they enter their mid-30s and start settling into suburban lifestyles and having babies. But when a chance encounter in a baby store leads to a (false) assumption that Ruth is pregnant, Ruth is buoyed by the sudden surge in attention that envelopes her, and goes along with the fake pregnancy. Channeling the best qualities of the self-aware and self-depreciating “Sex and the City” characters, Bennett’s dialogue and dialogue delivery provide a great deal of laughs. The film plays at the Regal Cinemas South Beach on Wednesday, March 11at 9:00 PM, with a repeat screening scheduled on March 13 at Cinépolis in Cocowalk at 9:30 PM.

Ben's at Home

Ben’s at Home

Rounding out the new comic trio is young actor and short filmmaker Dan Abramovici in Ben’s at Home, who has made the ultimate new world order fantasy where everything can be ordered in—food, sex, love – and shipped out – work, family obligations—all without leaving the comfort of one’s home. It works for awhile…until it doesn’t. The one-liners fly fast and furious, and Abramovici and his co-scenarist Mars Horodyski invent the most painfully funny (and perhaps only) game of strip foosball yet seen on the big screen. The film plays at Regal Cinemas South Beach on Saturday, March 14 at 6:30 PM.

All three screenplays are up for the $5,000 cash Jordan Alexander Ressler Screenwriting Award for Best First-Produced Screenplay in this year’s Festival. The Canadians are joined in the Festival by their countryman Maxime Giroux (marking his second appearance at the Festival, after 2011’s Jo for Jonathan), who has made a moving drama Felix and Meira, set in Montreal’s Hasidic Jewish community. All Canadian films in this year’s Festival are supported by Telefilm Canada and the Consulate General of Canada in Miami. The screening of Felix and Meira is further supported by the Quebec Ministry of International Relations, Quebec Trade Office – Southern Office (Atlanta), and SODEC Quebec.  – Jaie Laplante

Miami Dade College’s Miami International Film Festival Titles Have Strong Showing at 87th Oscar Noms

RELATOS

Wild Tales

At this morning’s 87th Academy Award nominations, films from Miami Dade College’s Miami International Film Festival made a strong showing! From the upcoming 32nd edition of the Festival (March 6 – 15, 2015), Argentina’s Wild Tales (Relatos salvajes), our opening night film, is nominated for an Oscar in the Best Foreign Language Film Category.

"The Bigger Picture", The Salt of the Earth

“The Bigger Picture”, The Salt of the Earth

Additional films from the 32nd edition nominated are Wim Wenders and Juliano Ribero Salgado’s The Salt of the Earth (which will be screened as one of the Festival’s Knight Documentary Achievement Award films), nominated for the Best Documentary Feature Oscar. Also nominated (in the Best Animated Short Film category) is Daisy Jacobs’ “The Bigger Picture”, which will screen at the Festival as part of the Park Grove Grand Jury Shorts Competition.

Finding Vivian Maier, "The Phone Call"

Finding Vivian Maier, “The Phone Call”

From the 2014 Miami International Film Festival, our Knight Documentary Grand Jury award-winning film Finding Vivian Maier by John Maloof and Charlie Siskel, is also nominated for an Oscar in the Best Documentary Feature category. See John Maloof on the Festival’s red carpet last year in this episode of ACCESSMIFF. A fifth Festival official selection nominated for an Oscar, this time in the Best Live-Action Short Film category, is “The Phone Call” starring Sally Hawkins, which was screened in the 31st Miami International Film Festival’s Papi Shorts Competition, presented by Macy’s.

Boyhood

Boyhood

Special presentations and Miami premieres for Miami Film Society members (held at private screenings throughout the year) made impressive showings in several categories. Boyhood, which was a Miami Film Society presentation in June, is nominated for a total of six Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Director. Inherent Vice, which was the special presentation for December, is nominated for two Oscars, including Best Adapted Screenplay.

Ida, Timbuktu

Ida, Timbuktu

Miami Dade College’s Tower Theater is currently screening Poland’s Best Foreign Language Oscar contender, Pawel Pawlikowski’s Ida (click here for showtimes), and on the calendar for February is Abderrahmane Sissako’s Timbuktu, from Mauritania, nominated in the same category.

MiamiFF and Film Society of Lincoln Center Team for U.S. Premiere of Prominent Chilean Filmmaker Cristián Jiménez’s Third Feature Film

Voice Over

Voice Over

One of Chile’s leading auteurs, and soon to be three-time Miami International Film Festival (MiamiFF) alum, Cristián Jiménez, is set to U.S. Premiere his third feature film, Voice Over (La voz en off), jointly in the Knight Grand Jury Competition at MiamiFF’s 32nd edition (March 6-15, 2015) and in Lincoln Center’s Film Comment Selects 2015. This two-city U.S. premiere shows unprecedented cooperation, rather than competition, between two of the nation’s most influential film programming organizations.

A familial comedy drama, Voice Over follows Sofia, a married woman with two kids, seeking to purify herself through a “disconnection vow”. When she leaves her husband and returns to her parents’ home—hoping for peace and quiet—she encounters a host of unexpected family issues that arise following the disintegration of her parents’ 35-year marriage. The film chronicles the modern day Chilean family, revealing how our breeding inevitably plays a hand in determining our fate—even when we’re convinced we’re forging our own paths.

Jiménez’s first film Optical Illusions (2009) screened at numerous international film festivals, including MiamiFF27 in 2010; his second film Bonsái world premiered at Cannes Film Festival’s Un Certain Regard section in 2011, and later won MiamiFF29’s Knight Ibero-American Grand Jury Competition and the Jordan Alexander Ressler Screenwriting Award in 2012.

MiamiFF, a program of Miami Dade College’s MDCulture, is teaming up New York City’s Film Society of Lincoln Center, for a mutual U.S. premiere of Voice Over at both MiamiFF 2015 and Film Comment Selects 2015—premiering only days apart in Miami and New York City. The US distributor for Voice Over is Outsider Pictures, whose new label is Todo Cine Latino. MiamiFF’s 32nd full program lineup will be announced on Tuesday, January 27th. Film vouchers are now available for Voice Over’s U.S. Premiere at MiamiFF; click here to purchase!—Tatyana Chiocchetti

A Quartet of Miami Film Talent Set to Screen at Sundance & Slamdance 2015

This week we are celebrating four talented Miami filmmakers who’ll be heading to the snow-capped mountains of Park City, Utah next month to showcase their latest work. Three of the films will be featured at Sundance Film Festival (Jan. 22 to Feb. 1, 2015)—the prestigious Fest founded in 1969 by Robert Redford, and a fourth at Slamdance Film Festival (Jan. 23-29, 2015)—the “alternative to the alternative” (since Redford started Sundance as an alternative to Cannes) founded in 1995 by a group of subversive filmmakers who weren’t accepted into Sundance and started their own event.

the-strongest-man

The Strongest Man

World premiering in Sundance’s NEXT <=> section, will be writer/director Kenny Riches’ second feature film The Strongest Man—a satirical portrait of Miami characters revolving around a stolen bike, and how the lives of an anxiety-ridden Cuban man, and his Korean friend, get derailed the moment they agree to attend a spiritual meditation class. Sundance’s Documentary Short Films section will be presenting Jonathan David Kane’s  “Papa Machete”—a character-driven short film documenting the noble, mysterious, and slowly vanishing martial art of Haitian machete fencing through the story and practice of one man, master fencer Alfred Avril, who recently passed away. “Papa Machete” is produced by recent Knight Arts Challenge grant winner and Miami-based Third Horizon Media, a production company and artist collective seeking to establish Miami as the capital of the Caribbean avant-garde.

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“Papa Machete”

Sundance’s Animated Short Films section will present the latest work by MiamiFF31 alum director in 2014 Ronnie Rivera (“International Noise Conference 2013”) entitled “The Sun Like a Big Dark Animal” (“El sol como un gran animal oscuro”), co-directed with Christina Felisgrau, where a computer and a woman fall in love, only to be torn apart because of their inappropriate feelings for each other. Lastly, MiamiFF31 alum director, Miami native, and O Cinema co-founder Kareem Tabsch (“Cherry Pop: The Story of the World’s Fanciest Cat”) is set to world premiere his new film “Dolphin Lover”—the true story of a man (Malcolm J. Brenner) with a porpoise—in Slamdance’s Documentary Shorts section. Congrats to all! —Tatyana Chiocchetti