February 2009, Volume 13, Number 2

COVERSTORY


Film Festival breaks borders and enters new frontiers in 2009

For 11 days beginning March 6, Miami International Film Festival (MIFF), a Miami Dade College cultural experience, will celebrate the arts through film.

Through March 15, Miami will overflow with film screenings, lively events, educational programming and meaningful community outreach. More than 70,000 people – including 350 filmmakers and industry leaders – are expected to converge upon The Festival in Miami to enjoy 120 films from all over the world.

Now in its 26th year, MIFF is experiencing a rebirth of sorts. Newly appointed director Tiziana Finzi – who has more than 20 years of experience in film festival programming and coordination – has refined the festival’s offerings and created a lineup that connects films to other forms of artistic expression, including design, visual and performing arts, and music.

“I am devoted to all different kinds of art and the blending of artistic genres,” said Finzi, who served as head of programming for the acclaimed Locarno Film Festival in Switzerland for nine years before being appointed its deputy director in 2005.

Finzi has also served as a programmer for the renowned Venice Film Festival and was head of programming for the Pesaro and Taormina film festivals.

Born in Trieste, Italy, Finzi studied architecture in Venice before completing her studies in the history of cinema in Trieste, where she prepared a thesis on American film director Robert Kramer.

“I have a clear vision for the new Miami International Film Festival: focus on new, young directors; create a strong identity; and promote international culture, value and tradition by offering films that are not available in theaters because of finances or politics,” she said.

The 2009 lineup is full of compelling stories from all parts of the globe. The festival will open with Valentino: The Last Emperor, a look at the life of legendary Italian fashion designer Valentino Garavani, who will walk the red carpet for the premiere at the Gusman Center for the Performing Arts.

Director Edoardo Winspeare will present the North American premiere of I Galantuomini, a film about a judge who reunites with an old love – a woman working secretly for a boss of a notorious criminal organization.

The festival will also screen the latest film from Abel Ferrara, Chelsea on the Rocks, a fascinating, freewheeling personal journey inside the walls, history and mythology of Manhattan’s celebrated bohemian landmark, The Chelsea Hotel.

From German director Hannes Stöhr is Berlin Calling, a tragicomedy that follows a Berlin electronic music composer, DJ Ickarus, as he tours clubs around the globe with his manager/girlfriend in anticipation of a major album release. Plans fall by the wayside when Ickarus overdoses on drugs and is rushed to the emergency ward of a psychiatric clinic.

As the only major film festival hosted by an institution of higher learning, MIFF’s spirited platform for new filmmakers, and its unparalleled educational opportunities, make it a one-of-a-kind experience.

Every year, some of the world’s most celebrated filmmakers debut their works to American audiences at MIFF.

The 2008 lineup was packed with Hollywood star power and independent spirit. Director Ira Sachs and actors Chris Cooper and Patricia Clarkson attended the Gusman premiere of Married Life, a 1940s period film. The festival also hosted Flawless, a heist film starring Demi Moore, who walked the red carpet in downtown Miami for this regional premiere.

In addition, Helen Hunt was in town to promote her directorial debut, Then She Found Me, and Kate Hudson attended the premiere of her self-penned and directed short film, Cutlass.

In years past, the festival has welcomed the likes of Sophia Loren, Geraldine Chaplin, William H. Macy, Antonio Banderas, Liv Ullmann, Andy García, Gloria Reuben, Raoul Peck, Wim Wenders, Jason Reitman, Pedro Almodóvar and many more.

For more on the 2009 Miami International Film Festival, visit www.MiamiFilmFestival.com.

— Gariot P. Louima and Katherine Joss


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