In a few days, the 33rd Annual Miami Film Festival will open its doors to a legion of adoring cinema lovers. The event is organized by Miami Dade College.
The big celebration of Ibero-American cinema will take place from March 4th to the 13th, and this time, it will have a suite of special guests, including Italian actress and model Monica Belluci, renowned filmmakers Icíar Bollaín from Spain, Gavin Hood from South Africa, Deepa Mehta from India, and Spain’s famous crooner Raphael who will be the star of the opening night when My Big Night—a film by Alex de la Iglesia starring the Spanish icon will make its much-anticipated American debut. These distinguished guests will be honored as part of the new Special Tribute Series prepared by the festival throughout the week.
The 10-day event will have Miami’s historic Olympia Theatre as its headquarters. Other important venues include Teatro Tower as well as five other cinemas around town. In addition to the projections, the festival includes the presentation of panels and discussions, competitions by categories with their respective awards ceremonies, meetings between the filmmakers, actors and producers who will come from different latitudes and, of course, the prevailing exclusive parties and celebrations.
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King of Havana
With the slogan “Projecting Light on the Magic City”, the festival will present a total of 129 films from 40 countries, of which 29 are short films, and will include many exclusive premieres. According to the event’s president, Jaie Laplante, one of the pillars of the contest is the presence of several Ibero-American and Hispanic-themed films. Competing in the various categories will be films from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Mexico, Peru, Uruguay, Puerto Rico and Venezuela.
Among the festival’s highlights, there is the long-awaited world premiere of the film El Olivo (The Olive Tree), by Spanish director Icíar Bollaín. The acclaimed filmmaker and actress—winner of two Goya Awards in Spain—together with Monica Belluci, Gavin Hood, and Deepa Mehta will be the honored personalities in the category Marquee Series, a novelty presented this year to promote public discussions with guest speakers.
In addition to the premiere of El Olivo, the public anxiously awaits the exhibition of films like Truman, a Spanish-Argentinian production that captured most of the Goya Awards this year; La Novia, (The Bride) by Paula Ortíz, which recreates the famous work Bodas de Sangre (Blood Wedding) by Federico García Lorca; or Ma Ma, by Julio Medem starring Penélope Cruz. Other world premieres include A Horse Called Elephant by the Chilean director Andrés Waissbluth, as well as Restless Love, by the Brazilian Vera Egito.
Among other prominent titles to be screened are Argentina by the Spanish Carlos Saura; Un monstruo de mil cabezas (A Thousand-Headed Monster) by the Uruguayan Rodrigo Plá; the award-winning film Desde allá ( From There) by the Venezuelan Lorenzo Vigas; the documentary Queen of Thursday by Cuban director Orlando Rojas, dedicated to the outstanding Cuban dancer Rosario Suárez; Felices 140 (Happy 140) by Gracias Querejeta, starring Maribel Verdú; Anacleto: Secret Agent, by Javier Ruiz Caldera, a production that adapts the history of popular Spanish comic character; The King of Havana, by Agustí Villaronga, based on the 1999 novel by Cuban writer Pedro Juan Gutiérrez, and A Cambio de Nada (For Nothing), by Daniel Guzman, winner at the Malaga Film Festival 2015.
“The program this year is a prism that invites Miami to see the world in a light that only cinema—and those who believe in it— can offer,” Laplante said in an attempt to summarize the spirit of this year’s festival. “The programmers strived to include movies and events that are essential to today’s complex, dynamic and changing Miami.”
Reserved for the closing ceremony is the US premiere of the Canadian comedy The Steps, directed by Andrew Currie and starring James Brolin and Christine Lahti. The event will close with its traditional gala under the stars. ■