February 2013, Volume 17, Number 1


The Marvels of MIFF

Celebrating its 30th anniversary as South Florida’s preeminent cinematic showcase, the 2013 Miami International Film Festival (MIFF) presented and produced by Miami Dade College brings film lovers a luminous lineup of some of the best films from around the world during its March 1-10 run.

To offer a rich overview of the Festival’s stellar three decades, MIFF created a Countdown Retrospective beginning in January and featuring one film from each of MIFF’s previous 29 years. Among the stars slated to attend these memorable evenings at the College’s acclaimed Tower Theater are Sarah Jessica Parker, at the reunion party for David Frankel’s 1995 film Miami Rhapsody, and filmmaker Bruce Weber, at the screening of his film Let’s Get Lost.

From the Countdown, the Festival launches 10 days of action-packed excitement in March, featuring dozens of filmmakers, scores of movie stars and more than 70,000 attendees. The world-renowned Festival will feature more than 100 films, including an impressive number of firsts, with at least 20 world, international, North American and U.S. premieres.

This year, MIFF’s Career Achievement Tributes are going to two filmmakers: renowned Swedish writer-director Lasse Hallström, (My Life as a Dog, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape), and Spanish producer, writer and Oscar-winning director Fernando Trueba (Belle Epoque, Chico & Rita).

Both directors will be presenting their latest at the Festival. Hallström’s The Hypnotist is a thriller based on Swedish author Lars Kepler’s bestselling book and stars Oscar-nominated actress Lena Olin and Mikael Persbrandt (The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey). The film is Sweden’s official entry in the Best Foreign Language Film category for the 85th Academy Awards.

Trueba will also be marking a milestone of his own, as he breaks all MIFF records with his 10th appearance at the Festival. This time, he will be presenting The Artist and the Model (El artista y la modelo), featuring an all-star cast of veteran international stars, including France’s Jean Rochefort and Italy’s Claudia Cardinale.

“It is a real treat to gather together this year’s filmmakers and film lovers. Everyone is in an upbeat, festive mood as we celebrate three decades of success, which is a remarkable milestone,” said MIFF Executive Director Jaie Laplante.

Gala Favorites

MIFF’s CINEDWNTWN Olympia Theater Galas will be rolling out the red carpet for a host of luminaries and great films, from Cannes Film Festival winners to local boys done good.

From the South Florida team who delighted MIFF audiences two years ago with Magic City Memoirs comes the world premiere of Eenie Meenie Miney Moe. Produced by Aaron J. Salgado and Jokes Yanes, who also directed this crime drama about a Miami Beach tow-truck driver’s choices and their consequences, it may well be leading the homegrown talent on the path to a second MIFF honor: Salgado received the Lexus Pursuit of Perfection Award’s Special Mention in 2011. 

Likely to become another gala favorite is The Hunt (Jagten), a drama from the Netherlands with plenty of pedigree. The film not only won Best Actor at Cannes last year for Mads Mikkelsen’s portrayal of a lonely teacher struggling to obtain his son’s custody, but also was the winner of the Ecumenical Jury Prize for Danish director Thomas Vinterberg.

Taking part in the Knight Ibero-American Competition, Everybody Has a Plan (Todos tenemos un plan) is an Argentinian crime thriller directed by first-time filmmaker Ana Piterbarg. It features international star Viggo Mortensen as a man who assumes the identity of his deceased twin and costars Soledad Villamil. Mortensen last walked the MIFF’s red carpet in 2007 for Alatriste.

Other renowned Ibero-American stars will be featured in two acclaimed works, with Ricardo Darín in both White Elephant (Elefante blanco) and A Gun in Each Hand (Una pistola en cada mano). Joining Darín in the latter are Eduardo Noriega and Javier Cámara.

Also returning to the Competition is the 2011 MIFF Grand Jury Prize Winner Julio Hernández Cordón, with Polvo (Dust), his follow up to Marimbas from Hell. Co-written and directed by the Guatemalan filmmaker, it stars Alejandra Estrada and Fernando Martínez.

For a second year in a row, writer-director Carlos Sorín returns with a new drama, Gone Fishing (Día de pesca), starring Victoria Almeida and Alejandro Awada. The Argentinian filmmaker wowed everyone in the audience at last year’s Festival with his mystery thriller The Cat Vanishes.

Global Reach

MIFF remains steadfast in its commitment to increase local perspective to global dimensions through Cinema 360, featuring great film fare from the world over. This year brings productions from Australia, Germany, France, Haiti, Iceland, Israel, Italy, Kenya, Mexico and Paraguay, among other countries.

One that is sure to win hearts is the Scottish romantic comedy Day of the Flowers, featuring the acting debut of Cuban Ballet superstar Carlos Acosta alongside Eva Birthistle and Charity Wakefield as two sisters who travel to Cuba and encounter a very different world from the one they have back home in Scotland. This U.K. film’s Havana scenes were shot on location under the direction of John Roberts.

Among the many noteworthy entries to the Lexus “Opera Prima” Best First Film Competition figures the Canadian-Mexican co-production The Boy Who Smells Like Fish, starring Zoë Kravitz and Douglas Smith in the title role.

In the Knight Documentary category are standouts such as Rap Is War, a Mexican film about an underground Cuban music protest group. This documentary will be preceded by the short Lost Country, a Florida production that garnered a Student Academy Award for its producer-director Heather Burky. The documentary deals with the lingering aftereffects of the Cuban Revolution on exiles in the U.S.

Another entry in the category is 20 Feet From Stardom, a witty documentary about back-up singers. This film arrives at MIFF on the heels of its world premiere at Sundance.

Fabulous Firsts

The Festival is also trying a few new things for its 30th, including programs like Lee Brian Schrager’s Culinary Cinema, where the local celebrity chef and founder and director of the South Beach Wine & Food Festival will treat audiences to this rich and unique genre of films.

Another new program worth noting is Spotlight on Film Movement, highlighting the Festival’s extraordinary commitment to art house and foreign cinema in the U.S. by providing access to all audiences across the board. Among the films featured in this program will be the U.K.’s Broken, with Tim Roth and Cillian Murphy, and the highly anticipated Clandestine Childhood (Infancia Clandestina), which is one of the most critically acclaimed Argentinian films of the year.

MIFF will also embark on a new partnership with MDC’s Confucius Institute for the State of the Chinese Film, a business-focused symposium complemented with Chinese film screenings.

Another standout addition is Spotlight on Quebec Cinema – Perspective Canada, developed after the success of the Quebec sidebar at last year’s Festival. Among those included will be Xavier Dolan’s Laurence Anyways, which Gus Van Sant signed on to executive produce after its debut in Cannes – a great endorsement and huge honor for any young filmmaker.

With all this and much more in store, this year’s edition of MIFF promises a happy 30th anniversary celebration, and gives us much to look forward to for decades to come. To learn more about all the great events, films and programming, visit miamifilmfestival.com.

— HP

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