Directors’ Fortnight Selects Three Miami Alums

A parallel festival created by the French Directors Guild, Cannes’ Directors’ Fortnight (Quinzaine des Réalisateurs) seeks to aid filmmakers and contribute to their discovery by critics and audiences alike. The 2015 program includes 19 feature-length films, culled from 1,623 submissions, with three new works by Miami alumni Jaco Van Dormael, Ciro Guerra, and Fernando León de Aranoa.

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director Jaco van Dormael, The Brand New Testament

Twenty-four years after winning the Camera d’Or for Toto the Hero (1991) Belgian-born writer/director Jaco van Dormael—previously in Miami with The Eighth Day in 1997 and Toto the Hero in 1992—returns to Cannes to present his latest work, The Brand New Testament (Le tout nouveau testament). In his first full screenwriting collaboration on a feature—with Thomas Gunzig—The Brand New Testament is a religious satire in which God lives in Brussels and accidentally sets off a panic after his disgruntled daughter leaks the apocalyptic plans he had stored on his computer. Did you catch that? God is alive, with a daughter, and stores His secrets on a computer! Catherine Deneuve, in Miami this past March with 3 Hearts and In the Name of My Daughter, also appears in the film.

A Perfect Day poster, Amador actress Magaly Solier and Fernando León de Aranoa in Miami

A Perfect Day;  Amador actress Magaly Solier and Fernando León de Aranoa in Miami

Goya Award-winning Spanish director Fernando León de Aranoa—previously in Miami with Amador in 2011; Invisibles (co-directed with Isabel Coixet, Mariano Barroso, Wim Wenders, and Javier Corcuera) in 2008; and Mondays in the Sun (Los lunes al sol) in 2003—marks his English language debut at the Fortnight with A Perfect Day. The dramedy, set in an armed conflict-zone somewhere in the Balkans, involves a group of aid workers who attempt to resolve a crisis following a cease-fire. The film stars Benicio Del Toro, Tim Robbins and Olga Kurylenko and is one of the few Spanish-directed titles premiering anywhere in Cannes.

Embrace of the Serpent poster, director Ciro Guerra

Embrace of the Serpent; director Ciro Guerra

Latin America has a limited presence in Cannes this year, but Colombian writer/director Ciro Guerra is participating with Embrace of the Serpent (El abrazo de la serpiente). Guerra’s new film, a follow-up to his Cannes (2009) and Miami (2010) hit The Wind Journeys (Los viajes del viento), is an Amazon-set drama inspired by the journals of German ethnologist Theodor Koch-Grunberg, and American Richard Evans Schultes, a renowned pioneer researcher into indigenous peoples’ use of plants. It is visually mesmerizing. The adventure, featuring knockout black-and-white cinematography, recounts the life-transcending friendship, between Karamakate, an Amazonian shaman, last survivor of his people, and two scientists that, over the course of 40 years, travel through the Amazon in search of a sacred plant that can heal them. The Amazon’s history has been so tough for the indigenous inhabitants that their reply has been silence—this film gives them a voice. The Directors’ Fortnight runs May 14–24 — view full program.  —Tatyana Chiocchetti

A Miami Alumni Reunion at Cannes

AP_photo:_Lupita_Nyong'o The 68th Cannes Film Festival kicked off today with a grand display haute couture, none more striking than the vibrant, jaw-dropping dress worn by Lupita Nyong’o, who shared the following on her Instagram feed: "It's #GrasshopperGreen for @festivaldecannes opening night. Thank you @Chopard @Gucci and Uganda's women for the hair inspiration. #NseneneSeason #cannes2015.”

AP_photo: The 68th Cannes Film Festival kicked off  with a grand display haute couture, none more striking than the vibrant, jaw-dropping dress worn by Lupita Nyong’o, who shared the following on her Instagram feed: “It’s #GrasshopperGreen for @festivaldecannes opening night. Thank you @Chopard @Gucci and Uganda’s women for the hair inspiration. #NseneneSeason #cannes2015.”

The 68th Cannes Film Festival has begun. This year’s Official Selection includes a total of 53 features, with the Competition and Un Certain Regard lineups unspooling 19 titles each. Festival director Thierry Frémaux and his screening committee opted to introduce some new talent into the competition while placing several regular Palme contenders, including Miami Dade College’s Miami International Film Festival (Miami) alumni Argentine-born French director Gaspar Noé, in non-competing slots.

There is only one title from a Latin American director in competition this year: Chronic, by Mexican helmer Michel Franco (After Lucia, Miami30). This English-language drama stars Tim Roth (Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction), who was president of the Un Certain Regard jury that awarded its top prize to Franco’s After Lucia in 2012.

Sicario poster; director Denis Villeneuve at Olympia Theater at MIFF28

Sicario poster; director Denis Villeneuve at Olympia Theater in Miami (2011)

This year there is an impressive list of eleven Miami Dade College’s Miami International Film Festival alumni directors competing with their new films at Cannes:

  • CHRONIC, by Michel Franco — previously in Miami with Después de Lucia (After Lucia) in 2013
  • DHEEPAN by Jacques Audiard — previously in Miami with See How They Fall in 1995
  • IL RACCONTO DEI RACCONTI (Tale of Tales), by Matteo Garrone — previously in Miami with Reality in 2013, La fura in vivo 2009, and Primo amore (First Love) in 2005
  • THE LOBSTER, by Yorgos Lanthimos — previously in Miami with  Alps in 2012
  • LOUDER THAN BOMBS, by Joachim Trier — previously in Miami with Oslo, August 31st in 2012
  • MARGUERITE & JULIEN, by Valérie Donzelli — previously in Miami with  Main sans la main (Hand in Hand) in 2013
  • MIA MADRE (My Mother), by Nanni Moretti — previously in Miami with  The Opening Day of Close Up in 1997
  • SHAN HE GU REN (Mountains May Depart), by Jia Zhan Ke — previously in Miami with Er Shi Si Cheng Ji (24 City) in 2009
  • SICARIO, by Denis Villeneuve — previously in Miami with Incendies in 2011
  • THE SEA OF TREES, by Gus Van Sant — previously in Miami with “8” in 2009
  • UMIMACHI DIARY (Our Little Sister), by Kore-Eda Hirokazu — previously in Miami with  Daremo Shiranai (Nobody Knows) in 2005
Matteo Garrone at MDC's Tower Theater at MIFF30;

Matteo Garrone at Regal South Beach, Miami (2013); Tale of Tales poster

The Un Certain Regard lineup at Cannes includes new works by two Miami Dade College’s Miami International Film Festival alumni directors:

  • KISHIBE NO TABI (Journey to the Shore), by Kurosawa Kiyoshi — previously in Miami with Cure in 2001
  • TAKLUB, by Brillante Mendoza — previously in Miami with Tirador (Slingshot) in 2008, Kinatay, and Lola in 2010

Argentine-born French filmmaker Gaspar Noé—previously in Miami with as co-director of 7 Days in Havana in 2013, “8” in 2009, and director of Irreversible in 2003—has been given a midnight screening for his latest, Love, a sexually explicit 3D film involving a love triangle that some are anticipating to be the raciest to ever screen at the festival.  —Tatyana Chiocchetti

Albert Maysles’ Final Film Explores Iris Apfel’s Style

Albert Maysles

Albert Maysles

Stepping into the vault during the Festival’s 29th edition in 2012, a retrospective screening of Islands on 16mm was held at Coral Gables Art Cinema—offering a fascinating time capsule of Miami during a time of transition. The 1986 film, by legendary documentarian filmmakers, the Maysles brothers, and editor Charlotte Zwerin, followed artists Christo and Jean-Claude behind the scenes as they overcame local resistance to realize their “Surrounded Islands” dream—a grandiose project that surrounded eleven of the spoil islands situated in Miami’s Biscayne Bay in 1983 with 6.5 million square feet of floating pink woven polypropylene fabric.

Former Miami-Dade County commissioner Ruth Shack recalls her memories of Christo project at Coral Gables Art Cinema (2012), "Surrounded Islands" in Miami's Biscayne Bay

Former Miami-Dade County commissioner Ruth Shack recalls her memories of Christo project at Coral Gables Art Cinema (2012), “Surrounded Islands” in Miami’s Biscayne Bay

The Maysles brothers, Albert (1026–2015) and David (1931–1987) are recognized as pioneers of “direct cinema,” the distinctly American version of French “cinema vérité.” Albert Maysles, known for his “fly on the wall” type of filmmaking, created groundbreaking films, for more than five decades—placing his fate and faith in reality, the provider of subjects, themes, and experiences—all endowed with the power of truth and the romance of discovery.  Just days before his final film, Iris, [view trailer] screened at the Festival’s 32nd edition this past March, Albert passed on following a brief battle with cancer.

Iris Apfel; Q&A at O Cinema Miami Beach

Iris Apfel; Q&A at O Cinema Miami Beach

In Iris, Albert Maysles trails nonagenarian fashion icon Iris Apfel—hired by nine presidents for White House restorations—brilliantly capturing decades of wisdom by the quick-witted, flamboyantly dressed style maven. Albert’s characteristic panache gives the film such an extraordinary sense of surrealism, it feels as if Iris’ larger than life personality could only exist within the realm of a film. In the documentary feature, we see Apfel mingle with Bruce Weber, Jenna Lyons, and Kanye West, while behind the closed doors of her Park Avenue apartment she quietly grapples with old age. “Fashion, she says, never keeps her up at night. Matters of health and things like that [do].”

In the current issue of Allure magazine, Apfel shares her secret to aging gracefully: “Don’t show your décolletage or wear low backs or spike heels that you can’t balance on. If you’re 80, I don’t care what you do with yourself, you’re never going to look 20. Worrying about getting old is the kiss of death; you have to be busy and stay engaged. You cannot be interesting if you’re not interested.” Iris opens in Miami on Friday, May 8 at MDC’s Tower Theater and O Cinema Wynwood. —Tatyana Chiocchetti

The Poet of Havana: Reconciling Generations

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Carlos Varela, The Poet of Havana

Although Cuban singer-songwriter Carlos Varela (Havana, 1963) travels the world as a cultural ambassador, he is always an Habanero, tied to his city with pride and passion. Both rocker and troubadour, Varela’s controversial songs about frustration and yearning for freedom have made him an icon to his country’s youth, even though he’s not a kid anymore. “Carlos Varela is something many people don’t think can exist in Cuba—an independent voice,” says Ned Sublette, whose QBADISC label released Varela’s “Monedas Al Aire” in 1993.

Varela’s first visit to Miami came in 1998 where he performed at a Songwriters showcase at Park Central Hotel in South Beach. Many saw the fact that Varela could play without incident in Miami as a significant turning point at the time. The next night, Varela performed at a private home for about 200 guests, many among the wave of Cuban artists, musicians, and filmmakers who arrived here in the early ‘90s. “Sing without fear!” someone shouted as Varela started to strum. “Fear?” Varela responded, “I play without fear in Cuba. Why should I be afraid here?”

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At Olympia Theater’s Gusman Center (Miami, 2010): Carlos Varela; on stage with Diana Fuentes

In a 2001 documentary Great Day in Havana, by Laurie Ann Schag and Casey Stoll, Varela is one of 11 artists celebrated in the film—all of whom reveal and reflect on Cuba’s precarious political climate, it’s African heritage, the ironies of a purportedly socialist country living off tourism, and how to live with dignity in the face of the U.S. embargo in the 1990s. In 2010, the first time that Varela’s whole band was granted visas to visit the U.S., they performed at Olympia Theater’s Gusman Center as part of a tour that included Playboy Jazz Festival in L.A., the Bluenote Jazz Festival in N.Y., and the Clearwater Summer Festival. Varela and the band returned to Miami in 2013 for a moving concert performance at Miami Dade-County Auditorium.

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l to r: Jackson Browne, Manny Alvarez and Carlos Varela (Havana, Cuba 2008)

A veteran of censorship battles with the Cuban government, Varela’s emotionally charged songs—raw, metaphoric chronicles of contemporary Cuban life—have drawn comparisons to Bob Dylan’s work. For his 2014 Standing in the Breach recording and tour, Jackson Browne translated Varela’s “Muros y puertas” (“Walls and Doors”), which addresses how polarized we are as a society—evident in the song’s refrain, “There can be freedom only when nobody owns it.”

Miami Dade College’s Miami International Film Festival invites you to enter Carlos Varela’s world as he celebrates his 30th anniversary in poignant performances. The Festival’s next monthly screening series will feature The Poet of Havana on Thursday, May 7 at MDC’s Tower Theater (1508 SW 8th St., Little Havana) at 7:00 PM, with writer/director Ron Chapman & Carlos Varela in the house for a post-screening Q&A. Free for Miami Film Society members. $13 general public. [ Tickets ]

You may also catch Varela on Friday, May 8 [ Tickets ] at Flamingo Theater Bar (905 Brickell Bay Drive, Miami) Carlos Varela (Intimo) in Miami concert presented by Vedado Social Club.  —Tatyana Chiocchetti

Film Festivals + TV = New Audiences

For a TV series, the spotlight of a Film Festival premiere is an opportunity to prove its ability to stand on its own as a cinematic story and attract new audiences. Now, as the quality of TV fare warrants it, a trend has begun to emerge as film festivals add new sections to their program lineups offering a glimpse of the best in episodic storytelling from around the globe. Miami International Film Festival (in 2012), this year’s SXSW, Sundance, followed by Tribeca and now TIFF are marking a number of major film festivals presenting TV on the big screen.

Mitch Glazer, writer, executive producer and creator of Magic City and lead actor Jeffrey Dean Morgan at  Colony Theatre in 2012. Photo credit: Sun Sentinel

Mitch Glazer, writer, executive producer and creator of  and lead actor Jeffrey Dean Morgan at  Colony Theatre in 2012. Photo credit: Sun Sentinel

The Mitch Glazer-created period Miami casino mob series Magic City, which enjoyed a two-season run on Starz, is currently in development for its move to the big screen. A star-studded showing of the pilot episode was held at the Festival’s 29th edition in 2012 at the Colony Theatre on Lincoln Road, with cast members Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Steven Strait, Kelly Lynch, Elle Satine, Yul Vazquez, Dominik Garcia-Lorido (Andy Garcia’s daughter), and writer/executive producer Mitch Glazer in attendance.

Magic City TV series cast: Olga Kurylenko (from left), Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Kelly Lynch, Steven Strait, Christian Cooke, Taylor Blackwell, Elena Satine, Jessica Marais, Dominik Garcia-Lorido, Yul Vasquez and Danny Huston.

Magic City cast: Olga Kurylenko (from left), Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Kelly Lynch, Steven Strait, Christian Cooke, Taylor Blackwell, Elena Satine, Jessica Marais, Dominik Garcia-Lorido, Yul Vasquez and Danny Huston.

The Magic City TV series, currently available on Netflix, took place in 1959 Miami and revolved around a club owner, played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan, who is forced to make a deal with a mobster; the Magic City movie will be set in 1962 and once again will revolve around the Miami club owner. Glazer wrote the script and will direct series regulars Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Danny Huston, Olga Kurylenko and Kelly Lynch, who’ll be joined by Bruce Willis, Bill Murray and others. Also, the Elmore Leonard novel Bandits is finally getting its movie closeup. Bruce Willis is the driving force behind this one, and will play the lead role in an ensemble drama that will be scripted by Mitch Glazer, coming off Magic City and Rock The Kasbah.

Prófugos director Pablo Larraín; Prófugos stars

Prófugos director Pablo Larraín at Regal South Beach in 2012; Prófugos stars Néstor Cantillana, Francisco Reyes, Benjamín Vicuña, Luis Gnecco

Also during the Festival 29th Edition, the Festival featured the first two episodes of the HBO Latin America series, Prófugos (Fugitives), in its Cinema 360° program. The Chilean series by award-winning director Pablo Larraín (Tony Manero, Post Mortem), celebrated writer Pablo Illanes (“¿Dónde está Elisa?”), and Fabula (Young and Wild, 4:44 Last Day on Earth) brought big screen quality to the TV mini-series world in a big budget 13-episode epic thriller, where four men are contracted by a mob boss who needs to move a truckload of liquid cocaine from Bolivia into Chile. The failed drug trafficking operation triggers an all-out manhunt across the vast regions of the Chilean landscape, where the enormous Atacama desert was only one backdrop selected for the first-ever HBO Latin America production in Chile.  —Tatyana Chiocchetti

Wim Wenders’ Striking Visual Ode to Sebastião Salgado

With deep empathy for the human condition, Sebastião Salgado’s photographs directly confront injustice, inhumanity and horror, while capturing the dignity within every subject. In multi-year, globe-spanning projects such as Workers: Archaeology of the Industrial Age, Sahel: The End of the Road, Migrations, and Genesis. Salgado’s stunning black-and-white compositions chronicle the lives of forgotten people—rendering them unforgettable.

Sebastião Salgado

Sebastião Salgado

Born in the Brazilian mining state of Minas Gerais and trained as an economist, Salgado moved to France in 1969 after Brazil’s military coup, and in the early ‘70s, in close collaboration with his wife Léila Wanick (then an architect), set up a home and studio in Paris to focus on photography. Devoting decades of his life to documenting the world’s darkest corners—among them the unspeakable horrors of the Rwandan genocide—left him deeply traumatized, and he decided not continue capturing such unimaginable horror. He couldn’t. In 1990, he returned from exile to the desiccated remains of his family’s formerly verdant farm, where his wife Léila said, “Let’s plant a few trees.” The ‘few’ trees became over a million through an experimental program of replanting. Their technique proved so successful that the project, called “Instituto Terra,” has now reforested parts of Brazil’s Atlantic (Mata Atlântica) rainforest and is a model for similar efforts worldwide.

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Refugee camp in Rwanda

Having collected Salgado’s photographs since the 1980s, German filmmaker Wim Wenders already knew that this Salgado really cared about people; what he didn’t know was that he was going to discover much more than just a photographer. His latest film, The Salt of the Earth (Le Sel de la terre), co-directed with Juliano Ribeiro Salgado (Sebastião’s son), is a fascinating amalgam of insider and outsider perspective on the Salgado family’s story. “Salt,” which earned a 2015 Oscar-nomination for Best Documentary Feature (Wender’s third, following Pina in 2011, and Buena Vista Social Club in 1999) is a stunning visual odyssey through Sebastião’s career.

Dinka group of Pagarau cattle camp, South Sudan, Africa 2006

Dinka group of Pagarau cattle camp, South Sudan, Africa 2006

For the past decade, Salgado has moved on to take pictures of pristine territories, our planet as it was created, hence the project’s name “Genesis”. His hope is that these images of absolute peace will help counter-balance the onslaught of negative imagery that we are exposed to on a daily basis. Lélia, the curator of the exhibit says that “Genesis is a quest for the world as it was, as it was formed, as it evolved, as it existed for millennia before modern life accelerated and began distancing us from the very essence of our being”.

Wenders, who received Miami International Film Festival’s Career Achievement Tribute in 2006, created a clever, cinematic way of filming Sebastião discussing his work in The Salt of the Earth. By projecting the master’s photographs onto a semi-transparent mirror, he allows audiences to see both image and man. In this manner, Wenders elicits memories of various monumental projects, turning ordinary talking-head visuals into emotion-filled interactivity. Following its Florida premiere at #MiamiFF32 last month, The Salt of the Earth makes its commercial debut on Friday, April 17 at MDC’s Tower Theater. —Tatyana Chiocchetti

Florida’s Flickering Landscapes Conference

The University of Central Florida’s Center for Humanities and Digital Research, College of Arts and Humanities,  is seeking papers for an upcoming conference, Flickering Landscapes: Florida’s Landscape, History, and Identity on the Screen, taking place in Orlando on November 12-14, 2015. The conference is geared toward academics from a broad range of disciplines and industry professionals, with the goal of initiating an ongoing dialogue on the dimensions of how Florida sees itself and is seen by the rest of the country through the lens of popular culture.

The First Hollywood; Pearl Bailey, Budd Ross, "Babe" Oliver Hardy and Ethel Burton: Actors and actresses in Jacksonville's motion picture industry (photo cred: Florida Memory - State Archives of Florida)

The First Hollywood; Pearl Bailey, Budd Ross, “Babe” Oliver Hardy and Ethel Burton: Actors and actresses in Jacksonville’s motion picture industry (photo cred: Florida Memory – State Archives of Florida)

Any form of screen experience relating to Florida is of interest: cinema, television, government and industry promotional film, training film, anthropological film, tourist experience video, home movies and non-professional video. The conference will likely trace back to the early years of the 20th century, when Jacksonville became the “Winter Film Capital of the World.” The first film studio opened there in 1908, to save money by using sunlight instead of pricey studio lights. Over the course of the next decade, 30 other studios followed, including Metro Pictures – later to become Hollywood giant, MGM. The studios eventually headed west to California when the people of Jacksonville began opposing such practices as filming bank robberies on Sundays, cars careening out of control in downtown and plunging into the St. Johns River, calling in false alarms to shoot a film of speeding fire trucks, and the like.

The Record Man featured at #MiamiFF 2015—a portrait of the late Henry Stone, a gutsy, enterprising music pioneer who ran an independent record empire out of a Hialeah warehouse; 80s TV show “Miami Vice”

Three key areas will be explored at the conference, including Landscape, History and Identity. Possible topics may include:

  • The relationship between Florida and the motion picture industry in
    • Jacksonville in the Silent Era
    •  The Race films of Richard Norman Studios
    •  The Gulf Coast Land Boom of the 1930s
    • Exploitation films at Wakulla and Silver Springs, 1950s-1960s
    • The “Hollywood East Movement” in Orlando, 1989-2000
  • South Florida television productions 1984-2010
  • The preservation of Florida film heritage sites.
  • From “Crackers to Cocaine Cowboys” archetypes of Florida-based characters on screen.
  • “Florida as the Promised Land:” Escapist films set in Florida or have Florida as the destination.
  • “Florida as a Backdrop:” Set design, Architecture, Still Images, Landscape.
  • Tax incentives and the economics of Florida filmmaking.
  • “Tin Can Tourism to Theme Parks:” Florida depicted as a vacation destination.
  • LGBTQ representations in Florida-set films.
  • “Paradise Lost and Found:” Beach, Swamps, Lakes, and Forests – Florida Ecology on Film.
  • Ethnographic and anthropological film
  • Non-commercial Florida on screen: corporate, government, and tourism films
  • The place of Florida in relation to other “secondary” film locations, (i.e. Wilmington, NC, Vancouver, BC, Toronto, ON, Dallas, TX, Pittsburg, PA, etc.)
  • The future of Florida’s film and television industry.

Deadline for submissions is May 31, 2015. Please view the Center’s Call for Papers page for details on submitting individual papers, panels or workshops.  —Tatyana Chiocchetti

Brazilian Writer/Filmmaker Anna Muylaert’s Latest to Screen at Tower

Anna Muylaert

Anna Muylaert

Miami Film Society’s monthly special event screening for April will feature a moving drama, The Second Mother (Que Horas Ela Volta?), by award-winning Brazilian writer and director Anna Muylaert, who wrote the first version of the film 20 years ago when she had her first child—it was called, The Kitchen Door, and was a magical realism story of a domestic servant who was a magician in her own village who could read the future of people. Born in São Paulo in 1964, Muylaert studied at the School of Communications and Arts at University of São Paulo (USP) in the early eighties, then became a film critic for Istoé (Brazil’s equivalent of Time or Newsweek) and O Estado de S. Paulo. In 1988, she joined the staff of Rede Gazeta’s program Mix TV, and several years later wrote for various children’s TV series, including “Mundo da Lua”, and “Castelo Rá-Tim-Bum”. Her impressive list of screenplay collaborations includes the HBO series “Filhos do Carnaval” and “Alice”, as well as multiple feature films including Xingu, The Year My Parents Went on Vacation (O Ano em Que Meus Pais Saíram de Férias, and Desmundo.

“A Origem dos Bebês Segundo Kiki Cavalcanti” (1995); Durval Records (2002); Smoke Gets in Your Eyes (2009)

“A Origem dos Bebês Segundo Kiki Cavalcanti” (1995); Durval Records (2002); Smoke Gets in Your Eyes (2009)

Muylaert began her filmmaking career with short films—most notably A Origem dos Bebês Segundo Kiki Cavalcanti (1995), which won the Best Film award at Rio Cine and Cine Ceará Festivals. In 2002, she directed her first feature film, Durval Records (Durval Discos), which took home seven awards at Gramado Film Festival, including Best Picture. Her second feature film, Smoke Gets in Your Eyes (É Proibido Fumar) in 2009, garnered over 30 national awards, including Best Film at Brasilia Film Festival, Grand Prize of the Brazilian Academy of Cinema, and Best Direction at Los Angeles Latino Film Festival.

The Second Mother

The Second Mother

Oscilloscope Laboratories picked up the U.S. rights to Muylaert’s latest, The Second Mother, on the heels of its Special Jury Award for Acting at Sundance Film Festival, and Panorama Audience Award at Berlin Film Festival. The film features Rio-born veteran actress, comedian, television host, and director Regina Casé in the role of Val, a live-in housekeeper who loyally serves her wealthy São Paulo employers day in and day out while lovingly nannying their teenage son, whom she’s raised since toddlerhood. Val’s estranged daughter Jessica (Camila Mardila)—who came of age far removed, literally and figuratively, from her mother’s servitude mentality—suddenly appears to take college entrance exams, and the unspoken class barriers that exist within the home are thrown into disarray.  Quoting C.L. on Sundance’s site, “The immense satisfaction and fun of The Second Mother stem from watching tacit social codes and delicate hierarchies waver as a new generation blithely treads on sacrosanct boundaries.”

A special event screening of The Second Mother will be held on Tuesday, April 21 at MDC’s Tower Theater at 7:00 PM. TICKETS are currently available for Miami Film Society members, and will go on sale for the general public on Monday, April 6. See you at the movies!  –Tatyana Chiocchetti

2015 Festival Award Winners ~ It’s a Wrap!

Writer, producer, director Phil Lord; The Obscure Spring poster

Writer, producer, director Phil Lord; The Obscure Spring poster

The vibe of the night at this past Saturday’s Miami Dade College’s Miami International Film Festival Awards Night Ceremony, held at Olympia Theater at Gusman Center, may be best summed up by Miami-born writer, producer, director Phil Lord, who quoted the following food for thought found on the Knight Foundation’s website: “We seek to bestir the people into an awareness of their own condition, provide inspiration for their thoughts, and rouse them to pursue their true interests,” as Jack Knight once described as the bedrock purpose of his newspaper.

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COMPLETE LIST OF MIAMI DADE COLLEGE’S MIAMI INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL AWARD 2015 WINNERS:

KNIGHT COMPETITION
> Knight Grand Jury Prize: The Obscure Spring (Las oscuras primaveras) (Mexico), produced by Luis Albores, Erika Avila, Carlos Mesa and Armon O’Farrill
> Grand Jury Award Best Performance: Cecilia Suarez, Jose Maria Yazpik and the entire cast of The Obscure Spring (Las oscuras primaveras) (Mexico)
> Grand Jury Award Best Director: Abner Benaim for Invasion (Invasión) (Panama / Argentina)

KNIGHT DOCUMENTARY ACHIEVEMENT AWARD (Selected by the Festival audience.)
> Tea Time (La once) (Chile / USA), directed by Maite Alberdi

LEXUS IBERO-AMERICAN OPERA PRIMA COMPETITION
> In the Grayscale (En las gamas de gris) (Chile), directed by Claudio Marcone

JORDAN ALEXANDER RESSLER SCREENWRITING AWARD
> Theeb (Jordan / Qatar / United Arab Emirates / United Kingdom), written by Naji Abu Nowar and Bassel Ghandour

PARK GROVE SHORTS COMPETITION
> Best Short Film: “Young Lions of Gypsy” (“A Ciambra”) (Italy/France), directed by Jonas Carpignano
> Honorable Mentions: “A Tree In The Sea” (United Arab Emirates), directed by Shahir Zag; and Alba Baptista for her performance in Simão Cayatte’s “Miami” (Portugal)

MIAMI ENCUENTROS presented by Knight Foundation
> The Apostate (El apóstata) (Spain / France / Uruguay), produced by Guadalupe Balaguer Trelles, Fernando Franco, and Federico Veiroj; directed by Federico Veiroj

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Spring director Aaron Moorhead, CinemaSlam champion “First Day” director Rita Pereyra, Graham Winick

CINEMASLAM
> Grand Prize winner: “The First Day” (“El primer dia”) (Miami Dade College), produced by Rita Pereyra, Martin Castañeda and Andrea Estrada
> Audience Award winner: “The First Day” (“El primer dia”) (Miami Dade College)
> Best Documentary: “Romana” (University of Miami), produced by Barrett Dennison, Luis J. Galvis, Chantale Glover and Nick Katzenbach
> Best Drama: “The First Day” (“El primer dia”) (Miami Dade College)
> Best Actor: Juan Jimenez, “The First Day” (“El primer dia”) (Miami Dade College)
> Best Actress: Valentina Jimenez, “The First Day” (“El primer dia”) (Miami Dade College)
> Best Director: Rita Pereyra,“The First Day” (“El primer dia”) (Miami Dade College)
> Best Technical Achievement: Timothy Wilcox, “Top Shelf” (Miami Dade College)

Alex Pina Kamilaze and Lexus man

Kamikaze director Álex Pina and Lexus vehicle operations manager Marcus Williams

LEXUS AUDIENCE AWARD
> Favorite Feature Film: Kamikaze (Spain), directed by Álex Pina
> Favorite Short Film: “Young Lions of Gypsy” (“A ciambra”) (Italy), directed by Jonas Carpignano

Capping a stellar 32nd edition of the Festival, which featured a total of 124 films from 41 countries, including 15 world premieres, the Lexus Audience Award announcements were made by the Festival’s executive director Jaie Laplante and Lexus’ vehicle operations manager, Marcus Williams, at the Patrón XO Igloo Café Awards Night Party, at the Historic Alfred I. Dupont Building.

The Festival’s 33rd Edition is set for March 4-13, 2016. See YOU at the movies!  —Tatyana Chiocchetti

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