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Miami International Film Festival, presented by Miami Dade College, Announces 2009 Line Up

By enhancing its traditional programming with contemporary, multi-media selections from the world’s vast art panorama, Festival’s 26th edition reaches new cinematic heights, celebrating art beyond the big screen, and saluting Miami’s growing arts scene
MIFF 2009 Unveiling

Dr. Eduardo J. Padrón, president of Miami Dade College (left), joins new festival director Tiziana Finzi and Miami Mayor Manny Diaz, in the ceremonial unveiling of the 26th Annual Miami International Film Festival poster, Profeta (Prophet), by the late Cuban-American artist Cundo Bermudez.

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Miami, February 4, 2009 - The Miami International Film Festival (MIFF), presented by Miami Dade College (MDC), today announced highlights of its 26th edition, running Friday, March 6 – Sunday, March 15, 2009.  The complete film slate is available at

The 137 selections for this year’s Festival represent more than 40 countries.  Along with 40 shorts are 97 feature-length films, including four world premieres, 22 North American premieres and 18 U.S. premieres.  Of this year’s eight first-time filmmakers, seven are in competition.  

“We’re very excited about bringing this year’s special program to our community, and to the many who join us from other parts of the nation, and from abroad,” Dr. Eduardo J. Padrón, president of Miami Dade College, said.  “Film is a powerful educational tool that raises awareness on important issues, and often brings about needed change.  Our Festival truly distinguishes itself from the world’s other major film festivals because of its heavy emphasis on education through its special screenings, workshops and seminars, presented by the industry’s most influential leaders.  I invite everyone to attend the Festival this year and enjoy its rich program.”

A Miami Dade College cultural event, MIFF is the only major film festival housed within an academic institution.  This distinctive bond is fused by MDC’s international reputation as a beacon, not only for academic excellence, but also for culture, and by MIFF’s mission: to bridge cultural understanding; endorse tolerance; and encourage artistic development and excellence within a vigorous and unique academic setting.  MIFF’s enduring focus on maintaining, and further enriching, Miami’s film culture, is another unifying element.

MIFF’s 26th year marks the first for director, Tiziana Finzi.  As much film business visionary as veteran, Finzi brings more than 20 years of top international film festival programming and coordination experience to MIFF.

“With the 26th edition of the Miami International Film Festival, I am looking forward to building on the great successes of its first-quarter century, so we can chart a course for the next 25 years that will expand the art of film to new audiences and, more importantly, expand the role of film as an educational tool,” Finzi said.

Finzi’s curriculum vitae reads like a list of the world’s most prestigious film festivals.  During her nine-year tenure with Switzerland’s acclaimed Locarno Film Festival, where she was head of programming and deputy director, Finzi led an artistic renaissance, incorporating new sections into the festival’s traditional programming which highlighted contemporary filmmakers, video and visual arts (for which she collaborated with some of the world’s preeminent museums and galleries).  She’s also held top programming posts at the renowned Venice Film Festival, and Pesaro and Taormina film festivals. 

Rounding out her programming experience, Finzi has curated, and consulted on, the visual arts for several international film festivals and institutions, among them: Italia Cinema and the Trieste Film Festival. The visual and experimental arts, architecture and, of course, cinema, are among many inspirations and passions, both personal and professional, influencing every area of Finzi’s life.  Her appetite for such a wide variety of art, which she shares with Miami, along with the city’s up-and-coming arts scene, which is growing increasingly significant around the world, provide a perfect launch pad for Finzi and MIFF’s continued evolution.

Many of MIFF 2009’s special touches emanate from Finzi’s extensive and eclectic background, like: the program’s inclusion of both contemporary and historical cinema from around the globe; Hollywood glamour; discussions about current topics effecting the film industry; and an authentic international vibe, felt in the showcase of emerging and established filmmakers, acting talent and artists from every country imaginable. 

Her collective experience especially shines in the distinctive, original MIFF 2009 competition section, Cutting the Edge, which she created in collaboration with the section’s dynamic programmer, Juan Carlos Zaldivar, a multi-disciplinary artist; film festival programming expert; and filmmaker, who, most notably, co-directed, with David O. Russell and Tricia Regan, the highly-controversial, 2004 anti-Iraq war short documentary, SOLDIERS PAY. 

Cutting the Edge is an exciting observation of audio-visual experimentation, surpassing ‘cutting edge’ notions.  In its first edition, this program showcases provoking, and sometimes extreme, works that stand at the crossroads of video installations, boldly intersecting with other art disciplines.  Multi-media selections add a new element to the traditional Festival movie theater experience, and at the same time celebrate one of Miami’s best-known and loved distinctions: its innovative, up-and-coming arts scene, which is increasingly considered among the most significant, internationally.

“My colleague, Juan Carlos Zaldivar, shares many of my artistic philosophies, which sparked our collaboration on the Festival’s new competition section, Cutting the Edge,” Finzi said.  “Works that blend different genres of art fascinate both of us, because they imaginatively challenge artistic norms, broadening the way we think about art.  We hope the Festival experience is enriched not only by films’ themes and messages, but also by Cutting the Edge’s inherent questions about life’s limits, borders and definitions.”

1. All press materials are available at:     Login: FTPPress  -   Password: Miami#1     (PASSWORD IS CASE SENSITIVE).
2. In addition, visit (especially its Press Room) for any information you may be after, or reach out to any MIFF / MDC media contacts, whose information is on the last page of this press release.  We are happy to facilitate any coverage needs you may have.
3. In the weeks leading up to, and during, the Festival, please look out for announcements / media alerts / updates from MIFF 2009’s Press & Publicity team about programming, ticketing information, events, press conferences, roundtables and other MIFF 2009 media opportunities.


VALENTINO: THE LAST EMPEROR; Director: Matt Tyrnauer; DOCUMENTARY; USA, 2008; English, French, Italian with English subtitles; Part of Gusman Red Carpet program

EMPTY NEST (EL NIDO VACÍO); Director: Daniel Burman; COMEDY / DRAMA; Argentina/Spain/France/Italy, 2008; Spanish with English subtitles; Part of Gusman Red Carpet program; Starring: Cecilia Roth, Oscar Martinez

From the underworld fiction of KING OF NEW YORK and BAD LIEUTENANT, to CHELSEA ON THE ROCKS, his recent documentary about the historic New York hotel and the poets, artists and musicians who have lived there, New York is a constant in Abel Ferrara’s oeuvre.  And like the city where he was born, Ferrara and his films are true diamonds in the rough; solid and often crude, at times brutal, yet always true, heart-felt and full of grace.

It is the Miami International Film Festival’s pleasure to honor independent filmmaker Abel Ferrara with this year’s Career Achievement Tribute, followed by a screening of CHELSEA ON THE ROCKS.

CHELSEA ON THE ROCKS; Director: Abel Ferrara; DOCUMENTARY; USA, 2008; English; Part of Gusman Red Carpet program; With: Giancarlo Esposito, Adam Goldberg, Ethan Hawke, Dennis Hopper, Grace Jones, Shanyn Leigh and Bijou Phillips, among others; Features archival footage of, among others: William S. Burroughs, Walter Cronkite, Jerry Garcia, Janis Joplin, Sid Vicious and Andy Warhol, among others. MIFF’s celebration of Ferrara continues, beyond the Tribute night presentation and screening of CHELSEA ON THE ROCKS.  All Festival long, MIFF will be saluting the maverick director with a special, all-Ferrara program, including five Tribute films, and a screening of his current work in progress, MULBERRY ST.

Ken Kelsch is the Jury President for the 26th Annual Miami International Film Festival.  Vietnam veteran and Filmmaker, Kelsch studied at NYU, receiving his Masters of Fine Arts in 1978.  He did his first film that year, as a Director of Photography with Abel Ferrara's Driller Killer.  Ken also worked with CNN's Special Assignment Division doing documentaries, and parachuting with camera in his Army Ranger piece.  He re-teamed with Ferrara in 1992 to do Bad Lieutenant, and later Black and White Opus, The Addiction, The Funeral, Blackout, New Rose Hotel, and their latest project, Chelsea on the Rocks.  Ken has shot many foreign films and TV projects including "Now and Again," "Fling" and two seasons of "Medium."

MIFF 2009 features the following four new awards for films in competition:
1. Miami Dade College Grand Jury Prize - $25,000 awarded to winning filmmaker of Dox Competition

2. Miami Dade College Grand Jury Prize - $2,500 awarded to winning filmmaker of Shorts Competition

3. Jordan Alexander Ressler Screenwriting Award, presented by the Jordan Alexander Ressler Charitable Fund of the Jewish Community Foundation of San Diego – Juried prize of $5,000 awarded to winning screenwriter in the Ibero-American Competition.

4. International Film Guide Inspiration Award, presented by Wallflower Press and The Criterion Collection – winning emerging Ibero-American filmmaker will be awarded prizes including: special Awards Scroll, a copy of the 2009 edition of the International Film Guide, various series of films (DVD) and books.

Following are MIFF 2009’s five competition sections, including each section’s awards:
1. World Cinema Competition - This high-profile competition category showcases the latest works by new, up-and-coming filmmakers from around the world.  Filmmakers are eligible for a $25,000 Knight Grand Jury Prize.

2. Ibero-American Competition - This inspiring competition showcases dramatic features by first and second-time directors from Latin America, Spain and Portugal.  Filmmakers are eligible for a $25,000 Knight Grand Jury Prize, and for the various prizes of the new International Film Guide Inspiration Award.  Screenwriters are eligible for the new $5,000 Jordan Alexander Ressler Screenwriting Award.

3. Dox Competition - Documentary feature films from around the world are screened in this prestigious competition.  Social issues, diverse cultures, icons and inspiring people are an integral part of this category.  Filmmakers are eligible for a $25,000 Miami Dade College Grand Jury Prize (new).

4. Shorts Competition - This section features three programs of the best short films from around the world.  Filmmakers are eligible for a $2,500 Miami Dade College Grand Jury Prize (new).

5. Cutting the Edge - MIFF’s newest competition section is an exciting observation of audio-visual experimentation, surpassing ‘cutting edge’ notions.  In its first edition, this program showcases provoking, and sometimes extreme, works that stand at the crossroads of video installations, boldly intersecting with other art disciplines.  Cutting the Edge also features four programs of short films.  Awards for this section TBA.

• Filmmakers in the World Cinema, Ibero-American and Dox Competitions are eligible for an Audience Award.
• Filmmakers in the World Cinema Competition are eligible for the Fipresci International Critics Award.

Following are MIFF 2009’s five out-of-competition sections.
1. Gusman Red Carpet - Every evening the latest films from world-renowned directors and emerging filmmakers are showcased at the historic Gusman Center for the Performing Arts . The Festival will close Flagler Street between First and Second Avenues to host Red Carpet parties for Gusman Premieres.  This year, both the Opening Night and Closing / Awards Night films are part of the Gusman Red Carpet program.

2. Cinema 360° - Amazing works from the masters and up-and-coming filmmakers are on view in this vibrant array of films from all corners of the world.

3. World Issues / World Films - This Outreach Program highlights films that tackle world issues and the human struggle for life and dignity.

4. REEL Music Scene - Films by renowned directors that showcase some of the finest international musicians who have a distinct voice in pop culture .

5. FLORIDA FOCUS SCREENING & AWARDS CEREMONY - This section is designed to celebrate outstanding work from Florida’s filmmaking community, and to honor young Florida filmmakers.  The Florida Focus Program spotlights MIFF 2009 selections with Florida connections, whether made in Florida, directed by a Floridian, or backed by Florida investors.

Florida Focus features the Third Annual Miami Coalition for the Homeless Student Short Film Competition, for which high school students submit Public Service Announcements.  In addition this year, Florida Focus launches three new competitions: 1) Social Shorts High School; 2) Social Shorts College; and 3) Miami Minis.

The winning short from each of the three new Florida Focus competition categories, along with the winning MCH PSA, will be screened during Florida Focus’ own Awards Ceremony.  Filmmakers with winning Florida Focus competition shorts will receive a prize TBA, courtesy of Kodak.  The winning MCH PSA filmmaker will receive a prize TBA.

DREAM. SCRIPT. SCREEN. The 26th edition of the Miami International Film Festival, in association with Miami Dade College’s School of Entertainment and Design Technology, and the University of Miami’s School of Communication, is pleased to bring to the community eight days of informative panels, workshops, seminars and master-classes to educate and entertain. 

Meet leading film industry professionals, as well as noted filmmakers, as they share their thoughts, insights, experience and advice.  Join our audiences as they listen to these experts discussing various aspects of the creative process, from film production and financing, to distribution and new technologies, and even try shooting something of your own.  The idea is to exchange knowledge, experience and information in an informal yet informative setting.

“Immerse Yourself” in MIFF 2009
The Immerse Yourself campaign promotes the 26th edition of the Miami International Film Festival, inviting audiences to indulge their senses and emotions through the art  of film in a very Miami way.  The image conjures the eternal coupling of light and shade, sound and silence and the ever-exploring nature of the artistic spirit.  MIFF 2009 invites you to “immerse yourself in film...”

Official 26th Annual MIFF Poster
The 26th Annual Miami International Film Festival poster is a work titled Profeta (Prophet), completed in 2005  by Cuban-American artist Cundo Bermudez, one of the masters of Cuba’s second modernist generation, and the last of Cuba’s Vanguardia movement.  Bermudez, who died in Miami on October 30th, 2008, had been selected to execute the artwork for this year’s poster in September of 2008.  He was excited about the collaboration inasmuch as many of the subjects of his paintings throughout his career were singers, musicians, actors and performers.  His passing prevented the completion of a new design, and this year’s poster is presented as homage to his work and a celebration of his life.

Born in Havana in 1914, Bermudez studied art at the San Alejandro in Cuba, and at the Academia San Carlos in Mexico.  In 1944, his works were exhibited in the landmark Modern Cuban Painting exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, a turning point for the understanding of Cuban Art in the United States, which established an international reputation for the artists included in it.  His work is represented in major museum and private collections.  His public artwork, Ways of Performing, is an artistic tour de force at the Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami.

The  Miami International Film Festival 2009’s Partners are the heart of the Festival, helping provide a platform for the world’s finest emerging, established and cutting-edge filmmakers to not only entertain diverse audiences, but also to motivate thought, discussion and change.  The support Partners provide the Festival in showcasing quality programming, frm traditional to avant-garde, has propelled the Festival to reach its 26th year; evolve into a cultural destination event for film lovers and top-level industry alike; and shape Miami’s reputation as one of the most significant international arts, and film business, scenes.

MIFF’s Presenting Partner is Miami Dade College.  Premiere Partners of MIFF 2009 include: American Airlines, America FilmWorks, Comcast, Miami Dade County, Miami Herald Media Company, Rock Group, Screen International, University of Miami. Principal Partners of MIFF 2009 include: Gusman Center for the Performing Arts, City of Miami Beach, Clear Channel Radio, Miami New Times, Miami Parking Authority, Miami Seaquarium, Stella Artois, VeneVision. 

Producing Partners of MIFF 2009 include: ABC Management/The Historic Alfred I. DuPont Building, AmericaEconomia/LUK, AXN, Eastman Kodak Company, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Regal Entertainment Group, Royal Palm Hotel, Televisa Publishing, Univision Channel 23.

Supporting Partners of MIFF 2009 include: Cabi/Everglades on the Bay, CAMACOL, Classical South Florida, Diario las Americas, Downtown Development Authority/DWNTWN, Entertainment Partners, Everglades on the Bay/Cabi Developers, FPL, FilmAnnex, Gen Art Miami, ICG Local 600/ICG Magazine,, City of Miami, HBO Latin America, Miami Beach Visitor & Convention Authority, Port of Miami, Ron Abuelo Rum/Varela Imports, The Rhythm Foundation, Univision Radio (La Kalle, Radio Mambi, WQBA, AMOR), WLRN Public Radio and TV, Wachovia. 

Program Partners of MIFF 2009 include: Astoria Communications, Arts & Minds Center, Consulado de Mexico, Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce, Digital Devoid, Espirito Santo Bank, La Estancia Argentina, Federal Express, Film Florida, The Florida Governor’s Office of Film & Entertainment, Garner Foundation, Gateways Unlimited, HBO, Latin American and Caribbean Center/FIU, Miami Art Guide, Miami Beach Cinematheque, Miami Coalition for the Homeless; Ministerio de Educacion, Cultura y Deporte de Espana, Ocean Drive Magazine, Piola Ristorante, Printfarm, Inc., The Raleigh, Sony , The Standard, The Vagabond Miami. 

Hospitality Partners of MIFF 2009 include: Art District Cigar Lounge, Avant Gardens, Baby’s Coffee, Café Bustelo/Rowland Coffee Roasters, Casa Panza, Cavas Wine Tasting Room Café, Costco Wholesale, Cuca Fresca Premium Brazilian Rum, Epicure Market, Epicure Florists, Ever After Floral Design, Fiji Water, Flowers and Services, Fogo de Chão, La Epoca, IndieVest, Lime, Novecento Café Ristorante Bar, Pasha’s Healthy Mediterranean Cuisine, Pistils and Petals, Porcão, The River Oyster Bar, Segafredo Brickell, Smith & Wollensky, Starbucks Coffee, Tapas and Tintos, Whole Foods Market, World Resources Café, Zucchero Ristorante-Bistro.

The Miami International Film Festival, celebrating its 26th year in 2009, has become a leading cultural destination event.  It is considered the finest Ibero-American film festival in the U.S.  The Festival, presented each year in March, attracts more than 75,000 audience members and over 400 filmmakers, producers, talent and industry professionals.  In the last five years, the Festival has presented films from more than 60 countries, including 300 East Coast, US and World Premieres.  Because of MIFF programs such as Miami Encuentros and a special focus on Ibero-American cinema, the Miami International Film Festival has become the natural gateway for the discovery of Ibero-American talent. Additionally, the Festival offers unparalleled educational opportunities to filmmakers and the community at large, including the REEL Education Seminar Series, the World Issues World Film outreach program, and MIFF Abroad, a cross-cultural venture created to cultivate the next generation of Ibero-American filmmakers.  For more information please visit our website or call 305.237.MIFF (3456).

Miami Dade College has a long and rich history of involvement in the cultural arts, providing South Florida with a vast array of artistic and literary offerings including The Miami Book Fair International, the Florida Center for the Literary Arts, the Cultura del Lobo performance series, The Cuban Cinema Series, nine visual arts galleries including The Freedom Tower at Miami Dade College and the School of Entertainment and Design Technology in addition to the renowned Miami International Film Festival. MDC is the largest institution of higher education in the country and is nationally recognized for many of its academic and cultural programs. With an enrollment of more than 167,000 students, MDC is the nation’s top producer of associate in arts and science degrees. The college’s eight campuses and outreach centers offer nearly 300 distinct degree programs including several baccalaureate degrees.

MIFF Media Contacts: 

MDC Media Contacts: 

  • Juan Mendieta - MDC Director of Communications -  W: 305.237.7611 / C: 305.323.0033 / E:
  • Sue Arrowsmith – Media Relations Specialist - W: 305.237.3710 / E:
  • Alejandro Rios – Spanish Language Media Specialist -   W: 305.237.7482 / C: 305.989.1701 / E:
  • Tarnell Carroll – Media Relations Specialist - W: 305-237-3359 / E:

Miami-based Café Bustelo is proud to be MIFF 2009’s Official Media Hospitality Partner, in celebration of the Festival’s 26th edition, its international artists and filmmakers, and the opening of the flagship Café Bustelo coffee, café-style dining and retail establishment on the main level of Miami Beach’s Gansevoort South Hotel, Spa and Residences.

Miami Dade College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award associate and baccalaureate degrees.
Contact the Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, Georgia 30033-4097 or call 404-679-4500 for questions about the accreditation of Miami Dade College.
Miami Dade College is an equal access/equal opportunity institution and does not discriminate on the basis of gender, race, color, marital status, age, religion, national origin,
ethnicity, pregnancy, disability, veteran's status, sexual orientation, or genetic information.
Contact the Office of Director, Equal Opportunity Programs, ADA and Title IX Coordinator, at 305.237.2577 for assistance.