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Celebrated Spanish Director Fernando Trueba Makes Triumphant Miami Return with Opening Night Animated Latin Jazz Love Story Chico & Rita at 2011 Miami International Film Festival

Chico and Rita

Miami, February 7, 2011 - After a 10-year absence, Oscar- and Goya Award-winning Spanish director Fernando Trueba returns to the Miami International Film Festival on Friday, March 4 to deliver the first Opening Night animated feature in Festival history: Chico & Rita. The film premieres at 7 p.m. at the historic Gusman Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Miami. It will be the only screening during the Festival, which is produced and presented by Miami Dade College (MDC). Trueba is scheduled to attend the premiere.

Already a sensation in theaters across Europe, Chico & Rita is the love story of Chico, a penniless piano player, and Rita, a sultry singer, who meet by chance one night in 1948 at Havana’s world-famous Tropicana Club. From there, the star-crossed lovers begin a tumultuous affair that spans decades and takes them to the glamorous stages of New York City, Paris, Hollywood and Las Vegas. Their complex tale of heartache and longing, much like a traditional bolero, unfolds to a musical soundtrack of spirited re-recordings of favorites by jazz legends Nat King Cole, Dizzy Gillespie, Israel “Cachao” López, Thelonious Monk, Charlie Parker, Chano Pozo and Tito Puente, among others.

Three years in the making, Chico & Rita is the result of the collaborative talents of Trueba; famed Barcelona illustrator and designer Javier Mariscal (the set designer of Trueba’s Calle 54, who is famous for creating the logo of “Cobi,” the Cubist-style Catalan sheepdog that became the official mascot of the 1992 Barcelona Olympics); and Mariscal’s brother, animation artist Tono Errando, who supervised design teams in studios on three different continents.

“There is a special magic to having Chico & Rita as the Opening Night film of our 28th edition,” said MIFF executive director Jaie Laplante. “This sensual collaboration of three masters from the world of film, art and music is a rare find. With so much of the film set in the tropical paradise of Cuba in 1948, it has a special resonance for Miamians.”

2011 is a homecoming of sorts for Trueba, the famed Spanish director of international hits Belle époque (the cinematic sensation that introduced U.S. audiences to Penelope Cruz, screened at MIFF in 1994 and won the Oscar for Best Foreign-Language Film) and last year’s The Dancer and the Thief, Spain’s submission to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences for the Best Foreign-Language Film Oscar. The last time Trueba’s celebrated work premiered at MIFF was 2001, when his love-song-to-Latin-jazz documentary Calle 54—starring legendary performers Gato Barbieri, Cachao, Michel Camilo, Eliane Elias, Tito Puente, Paquito D’Rivera and Bebo and Chucho Valdés—took home the Festival’s Audience Award.

For Chico & Rita’s music, Cuban pianist, bandleader, composer and arranger Bebo Valdés orchestrated the score and elicited sensational covers of legendary jazz songs from contemporary singers and musicians Idania Valdés, Carlos Sarduy, Horacio Hernández, Rolando Luna, Germán Velazco and Jorge Reyes. In related news, Miami's own Natalio “Nat” Chediak—Festival founder and director for 18 editions, Calle 54 associate producer and 2002 Latin Grammy-winning producer of the Bebo Valdés Trio's  El arte del sabor album—co-wrote the lyrics for the film's beautiful theme song, Lily.

After the premiere, the Latin Jazz beat continues at Miami Dade College’s National Historic Landmark Freedom Tower for the Festival’s Opening Night Celebration, a re-creation of the film’s glamorous, animated world that will feature the sounds and rhythms of local band Havana Soul. Participating festival sponsors include Chophouse Miami, Ecco Pizzateca + Lounge, Estancia Wines, Hard Rock Café, Illy Caffé, La Estancia Argentina & Clos Café (Clos de Bois wines), La Loggia Ristorante & Lounge, Mr. Yum Asian Cuisine, Rums of Puerto Rico, Soi Asian Bistro and Stella Artois. Doors open at 9:30 p.m., and the party lasts until 12:30 a.m.

”We are very excited about the Opening Night festivities, where we have an opportunity to showcase the Festival, the college, and, more importantly, Miami to the world as we embark on ten days of the best cinema and related educational activities,” said Dr. Eduardo J. Padrón, president of Miami Dade College.

About Miami International Film Festival
The Miami International Film Festival (MIFF), celebrating its 28th edition March 4-13, 2011, is the premier Ibero-American film festival in the U.S. The annual event, which is produced and presented by Miami Dade College, attracts more than 70,000 film enthusiasts and 400 filmmakers, stars and industry professionals. During the past five years, the festival has screened films from 60 countries and hosted 300 East Coast, U.S. and world premieres. Through Encuentros, the festival’s mentorship and film development program for filmmakers and projects from Spain, Portugal and Latin America, MIFF has become a primary gateway for the discovery of Ibero-American talent in the entertainment world. In addition, the festival’s REEL Education Seminar Series consistently attracts top executives from Warner Bros., Sony Pictures Classics, IFC Films, Fox Searchlight, DreamWorks Animation, HBO Films/HBO Latino and William Morris Endeavor, among many others. For more information, visit www.miamifilmfestival.com or call 305-237-MIFF (3456).

About Miami Dade College
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 Cultura del Lobo performing arts 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 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 170,000 students, MDC is the nation’s top producer of associate in arts and associate in science degrees. The college’s eight campuses and outreach centers offer more than 300 distinct degree programs, including baccalaureate degrees in education, nursing, public safety management and other in-demand fields.

The 28th edition of the Miami International Film Festival runs March 4-13, 2011. Tickets for the general public go on sale Friday, Feb. 11. For tickets to Opening Night and all other Festival screenings and special events, visit www.miamifilmfestival.com or call 305-405-MIFF (6433).

Media-only contacts:
Juan Mendieta, 305-237-7611, jmendiet@mdc.edu, MDC communications director
Tere Estorino, 305-237-3949, testorin@mdc.edu, MDC media relations director
Sue Arrowsmith, 305-237-3710, sue.arrowsmith@mdc.edu, media specialist
Tarnell Carroll, 305-237-3359, tcarroll@mdc.edu, media specialist
Alejandro Rios, 305-237-7482, arios1@mdc.edu
MIFF media contact: Dana Ballestero, 305-237-3768, dana@miamifilmfestival.com




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