Special Events (4)
Opening and Awards Night hold a special place in the Festival, as must-be-there events showcasing two honored films followed by extravagant parties. Join us in toasting the kickoff, and award winners, at the start and end of a fabulous 10 days!
THE STEPS (AWARDS NIGHT FILM)
Featuring a brilliant ensemble cast led by James Brolin and Oscar-winner Christine Lahti, this riotous comedy is about what happens when two already fraught families are forced to merge into one big dysfunctional clan. Still in the prime of life, seniors Ed (Brolin) and Sherry (Lahti) fall in love and decide to have their kids meet each other for a “step-sibling bonding” weekend. Ed’s two kids are New Yorkers, while Sherry’s three boys are Canadian—and all from different fathers (!) – inciting a culture clash that even nuptial bliss seems unlikely to conquer. The Steps also stars Jason Ritter and Entourage’s Emmanuelle Chriqui.
CineDwnTwn Galas (3)
Red carpet events featuring the year’s most compelling star-driven works be top-tier directors showcased at the historic Olympia Theater, presented by Downtown Development Authority of Miami.
PALM TREES IN THE SNOW
The accidental discovery of a long lost letter drives Clarence to travel from the snowy mountains of Spain to Africa, where she unearths the secret of a forbidden love story framed within turbulent historical circumstances whose consequences will have repercussions in her present-day life.
SPANISH AFFAIR 2
Koldo becomes alarmed when he learns that his daughter Amaia, after breaking up with Rafa, is in love with a Catalan. He decides to head to Seville to convince Rafa to accompany him, as he sets out to rescue Amaia from the arms of her new beau. Sequel to “Spanish Affair” (“Ocho apellidos vascos”).
Marquee Series (4)
Film screening accompanied by on-stage conversations with major film personalities of the moment, discussing their career and sharing an exciting new work.
French actress Sophie Bernard (the incomparable Monica Bellucci, in one of her most complex and demanding roles) has agreed to make a movie in Montreal, taking on a role deliberately sculpted to mirror events in her personal life. Sophie’s real focus, however, is on attempting reconciliation with her adult son Thomas (Aliocha Schneider), who lives in Montreal and has not seen his mother in three years, their estrangement owing in part to Sophie’s refusal to reveal to Thomas the identity of his father. Thomas’ distress over his mother’s visit is compounded when he witnesses a stranger’s attempted suicide on the night of Sophie’s arrival.
Meanwhile, paramedic Pierre and ER nurse Marie (the extraordinary Pascale Bussieres), the responders to the suicide incident, are immersed in unspoken distress of their own. Pierre is a veteran suffering from undiagnosed PSTD, while Marie has a history of loss that she stifles through over-work. All four characters will become entangled in a moment that will force them to confront those past events that each have taken pains to ignore.
With only his second fiction feature, Quebec director Guy Édoin absorbs the principles of melodrama and imbues several memorable sequences with a dynamic flourish. Ville-Marie announces a strong new cinematic personality. – Jaie Laplante
Soiree Series (9)
A memorable evening out, beginning with an inspiring and entertaining film, segueing into a fabulous party.
Hope for a better future is undeniably a distant dream for Palestinians living in the refugee camp of the Gaza strip. Yet hope is just what drives twenty-two-year-old Mohammad Assaf, who sings at weddings and cobbles together rehearsal sessions with his makeshift band, who have managed to become contestants in a live-televised amateur band competition taking place in Tel Aviv. Unable to compete in person since they are not allowed to leave the camp, the program allows the band to Skype-in their performance—partly in protest of their confinement, Alas, just before going on the air, the electricity goes out. A generator is quickly found to get the signal back just in the nick of time—but the noise of the generator is so loud, the audience in Tel Aviv can barely hear the music.
In an era when the cumulative weight of obstacles threatens to crush even the most tenacious soul, the perseverance required to carry on despite incredible obstacles must come from somewhere. In the case of Mohammad, it is simply that to stop struggling for a chance to sing is to stop living. And as he traverses various checkpoints en route to realizing his dream, you will gasp at what awaits him and his countrymen.
Knight Competition (20)
A mesmerizing variety of powerful works from around the world, directed by filmmakers who have directed at least one previous Official Selection (feature) of the Festival. Films are eligible for Achievement awards totaling $40,000 in cash, courtesy of Knight Foundation.
On her 40th birthday, Elia gathers together her closest friends and relatives at a luxury country house to tell them some extraordinary news: she has won a jackpot of 140 million euros! From that moment onward, the atmosphere becomes increasingly tense and what started off as shared happiness gradually transforms into greedy plotting to take Elia’s fortune.
An existential comedy of a Spanish man trying to apostate from the Catholic Church, following his catharsis as he embarks on the increasingly quixotic quest of formally having his name struck from the church’s baptismal record, and comes out from under the pressure of his parents’ expectations.
Knight Documentary Achievement Award (7)
Candid, thought-provoking feature-length documentaries examining social issues, diverse cultures and influential people compete for an audience-voted $10,000 cash achievement award, courtesy of Knight Foundation. Every ballot cast for a film competing for the Knight Documentary Achievement Award makes the voter eligible to be entered into a draw for a year’s worth of free movies at Cinepolis Coconut Grove, see details on your ballot at the theater.
MAPPLETHORPE: LOOK AT THE PICTURES
Robert Mapplethorpe was an artistic tour de force. He emerged from the fecund 1970s New York art scene, where he bonded with Patti Smith and partnered with the art collector Sam Wagstaff. Mapplethorpe’s photography could luxuriate in explicit imagery of gay sadomasochistic sex, yet it could also encompass pictures of flowers that exuded an almost classical splendor. In 1989, the year he died of AIDS, Mapplethorpe became the center of controversy when Senator Jesse Helms denounced his work in Congress and his exhibitions were deemed obscene and raided by police.
Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato (The Eyes of Tammy Faye, Inside Deep Throat) don’t hold back in confronting Mapplethorpe’s personal complexities or the unabashed provocations of his X-rated photography. The acclaimed filmmakers gain access to rare audio recordings of Mapplethorpe and conduct interviews with his friends and family. After the film’s world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in January, BBC reviewer Owen Gleiberman wrote, “The movie is a gorgeously edited scrapbook of underground passion.” – Thom Powers
Lexus Ibero American Feature Film Competition (19)
Open to all Ibero-American films in the Official Selection, competing for a jury-selected cash Achievement Award of $10,000, courtesy of Lexus.
Lucho is a young Puerto Rican boy. He is overweight and rides a bicycle—the picture of innocence. No one in his barrio suspects that he is a drug mule. Fausto, a former boxer, tirelessly trains his son Santito to become a fearsome fighter, monetizing his skills in the underground fighting scene so to pay off a hefty gambling debt. Ingrid works as a nurse, helping drug-addicted women give birth, but her dream is to have a child of her own.
Lucho’s sister’s addict boyfriend gets a crazy proposal: his dealer wants to have sex with his girlfriend and her friends in exchange for a year’s supply of drugs. This sordid agreement will set into motion a series of dramatic events, merging these otherwise discreet narratives and propelling The Farm toward its chilling climax.
Akin in structure and tenor to Alejandro González Iñarritu’s now-classic debut Amores Perros, Angel Manuel Soto’s feature debut is an electrifying portrayal of the hardships and hopelessness of life in modern Puerto Rico, a place where economic woes, perilous drugs and crude social dynamics coalesce, creating a tense environment that these characters will have to work hard to survive. – Andres Castillo
CIEN AÑOS DE PERDÓN (ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF FORGIVENESS)
On a torrentially rainy morning in Valencia, six men enter a bank shortly after it opens and commence a hold-up. They don plastic masks that do not completely obscure their faces yet strip them of all distinguishing characteristics, giving the proceedings a frightening twist of perversity. These thieves are clearly human, yet they are acting monstrously.
This monstrousness creates anxiety and strife even amongst the thieves themselves. The leader of the pack, known only as El Uruguayo (played with smarmy charisma by Motorcycle Diaries’ Rodrigo de la Serna), does not possess the same baseline moral integrity as does El Gallego (the always magnetic Luis Tosar), and as their carefully laid plans begin to unravel, sundry betrayals erode any hope for escape from the thorny mess. Who exactly will emerge with “one hundred years of forgiveness” from it is a question that will not be settled until the final shot.
Daniel Calparsoro, whose Invasor exuded such moral and visceral power, is at the top of his game with Cien años de perdón, a superior heist thriller that never lets up in terms of pace, tension or atmosphere. – Jaie Laplante
São Paulo best friends Julia, Micaela and Diego enter their thirties entirely unprepared for the considerations of adult maturity. Julia has chosen to remain blind to the obvious signs that her current boyfriend is a two-timing cad, but her eyes are forced wide-open when she discovers that she is pregnant with his child. Diego (played by pop-rock star Thiago Pethit in his big-screen debut) is a party boy with daddy issues who can’t stay faithful to his sweet, dependable boyfriend. Micaela, meanwhile, is wasting her time chasing a bisexual actress who won’t even acknowledge their shared intimacy in private. As these three charismatic but troubled friends keep spinning their wheels, even their own chosen-family bonds get stress-tested to their breaking point.
Writer-director Vera Egito, who shares her characters’ age and background, delivers the sort of insightful, exacting generational portrait that could only come from a clear-eyed and tough-minded young artist. She masterfully creates vibrant, fully realized characters that speak to a world extending far beyond the limits of São Paulo, touching on anxieties and aspirations that are truly universal. – Jaie Laplante
Already heartbroken over her husband’s having abandoned her to vacation with another, younger woman, Magda suddenly learns she has breast cancer and must undertake both painful radiation treatments and a mastectomy. Armed with formidable resolve, Magda goes directly from receiving her devastating diagnosis to her son’s soccer practice—where she encounters Arturo, a scout for Spanish giants Real Madrid, perched nearby on the bleachers. Within minutes of their meeting, Arturo receives a phone call with the terrible news that his wife and daughter have been in a grave accident. Magda helps Arturo to the hospital where his wife lays in a coma. In the grueling hours and days that follow Magda and Arturo will forge a bond that will fortify their capacity for love and endurance as they face the hardest times of their lives.
Suave secret agent Anacleto lives a life of international intrigue and constant danger—unbeknownst to his son, Adolfo, who works dull shifts as a security guard. But when a criminal mastermind seeks revenge on Anacleto, their father-son relationship is shifted into in delirious overdrive, in this giddy romp of a spy movie parody.
Jordan Alexander Ressler Screenwriting Competition (3)
Screenwriters from all feature films in the Festival that have a first-produced feature screenwriter credited, compete for a jury-selected cash prize of $5,000, courtesy of the family of the late Jordan Alexander Ressler.
Lee Brian Schrager's Culinary Cinema (10)
Sumptuous foodie films, featuring every flavor under the sun, guaranteed to pique your appetite; each paired with a three-course film-inspired meal and wine, at an outstanding local restaurant.
Ellia returns home to her family vineyard after her father dies in a winery accident. When his death is ruled a murder and her mother becomes the prime suspect, she’s determined to find the truth. As Ellia uncovers secrets about her family and the winery, she becomes the murderer’s next target. Will she find out the truth before it’s too late?
SNACKS, BITES OF A REVOLUTION
The stars of the latest gastronomic revolution, a group of Spanish chefs and their international circle of culinary experts, explain why the food movement from Spain managed to shake the foundations of world cuisine, and how they shared their passion for breaking the old rules and mastering their creations with a new freedom in the kitchen.
Cinema 360º (18)
A vibrant and dynamic selection of narrative works, from both accomplished and emerging filmmakers around the world, includes an international selection of dramas, comedies, suspense thrillers, and innovative docudramas.
A war to keep the peace. In the small village of Vrontados on the Greek island of Chios, there is unrest. For over a century, parishioners of two Greek Orthodox churches have engaged in a battle on Holy Saturday, firing more than 100,000 homemade rockets at each other’s churches once the sun goes down.
Provocative and stirring feature length visual experiences guaranteed to test limits and take viewers to the extreme.
Florida Focus (7)
Profiling the best works partially or wholly shot in Florida or by a filmmaker who is originally from or current resident of Florida.
Sarah’s marriage to Donald is in jeopardy as she struggles to accept the loss of her young son. She suffers from horrible nightmares that tempt her with clues about her son’s disappearance. Sarah’s therapist treats her with a bizarre form of hypno-affirmation therapy in the living room of the family’s home in an effort to uncover buried details about her son’s mysterious disappearance. The strange technique is successful at uncovering repressed memories, and reveals that Lucas knowingly left his family to join the ‘star people,’ a group of supernatural entities with whom he ‘belongs’. The story shows how mothers can learn to accept and encourage the unorthodox life paths of their children.
Reel Music (4)
Narrative and documentary films with music-themed content. Magical moments, haunting melodies, genius performances… all emanating from a masterful combination of music and film.
The forbidden shore
The amazing diversity of contemporary Cuban music is gorgeously explored in Ron Chapman’s third documentary feature. The Forbidden Shore follows the great success of The Poet of Havana, which featured Carlos Varela. With this ambitious new film, Chapman captures the full gamut of what’s happening now in Cuba, both the most exciting artists and the distinct musical scenes they move in, from classic son and salsa, to trova, nueva trova, reggaton, rock, jazz, metal, rap, electronic, classical, choral, pop, changu, danzón, rumba, yoruba, bolero, conga, timba, mambo and—if you can believe it—more.
But the present can only be understood within the context of the past, thus the film’s wonderful soundtrack is comprised of music new and old, of the sounds of modern iconoclasts and the immortal music of the old guard. This is a one-of-a-kind journey into the heart and soul of a sonic culture like no other, a place where music is cultivated and thrives through the enduring desire of its people to forge a sound that is all their own.
Miami Film 2016 (3)
These films come from the winners of the Latin American film market, Ventana Sur, who were a part of Miami Film 2016 which was organized by The Related Group and Miami International Film Festival. The winners‟ retrospective works are being shown.
DIEGO LERMAN’S Refugiado
Seven-year-old Matías (Sebastián Molinaro) waits to be picked up from a friend’s birthday party. When no one shows, some friends take the boy to the apartment he shares with his mother Laura (Julieta Díaz). Once home, Matías discovers Laura unconscious on the floor. Laura is taken to hospital to have her injuries treated, and she reveals to the police that she was attacked by her husband, who is accusing her of having an affair and carrying another man’s child in her womb. Tired of the abuse, Laura decides to run away with Matías, to escape a situation that she cannot control—and that she worries could end her life and that of her son.
Diego Lerman’s latest feature deals with the difficulties of a young mother seeking refuge for herself and for her son while being confronted with the harsh realities of fleeing from all she knows. This destabilizing journey will prove eye-opening for Matías, who cannot really understand the situation he is in—but it is a situation he must learn from very quickly if he is going to survive. – Andres Castillo
Sebastián (Carlos Echevarria), a thirty-year-old high school swimming coach, is tricked into letting sixteen-year-old Martín (Javier de Pietro), his pupil, sleep over at his place. Martín has been nursing a crush on Sebastián—who identifies as heterosexual—and once these two find themselves in Sebastián’s apartment both of them clearly have different ideas of what they would like to happen that night.
Yet for Sebastián, the morning after brings a new realm of possibility to his staid, one-dimensional life. Martín has ushered into this life an experience that Sebastián was not looking for, but that has nonetheless altered his mindset and unmoored aspects of his identity that he had always considered to be fixed.
Argentine director Marco Berger’s second feature delicately and intelligently considers the precariousness of a teacher-student relationship and the ways a heterosexual man can feel forever altered in the wake of a sexual scenario he never thought possible. – Andres Castillo
Specially curated for younger film fans, these narrative films are for the entire family to enjoy.
Having long dedicated all her time to the Middle Island Sanctuary for Little Penguins, single mom Emily is devastated to discover that the sanctuary will lose its funding because the penguin population, having fallen prey to the region’s foxes, has decreased beyond the minimum mandatory levels. Emily’s dad Swampy Marsh, an eccentric chicken farmer, is seen by his neighbors as bad news, but he might have the solution to Emily’s problems right in his backyard.
Together with Emily’s daughter Olivia, they train Oddball, Swampy’s dog, to protect the penguins and save the sanctuary. All of this must be kept secret from Emily and the entire town, since the notoriously mischievous Oddball is forbidden to leave Swampy’s land. But all their good intentions could go to waste, as an unknown enemy attempts to sabotage their efforts.
Based on a true story and shot entirely on location in Australia, Oddball is fun and thoughtful. It radiates a sweet charm that snags your heart from the get-go, while its absorbing story emphasizes the importance of environmental preservation.
Shorts Competition (12)
The latest in films 30 minutes or less from around the globe, the jury-selected winner will receive a $2,500 cash prize.
IF I WAS GOD
While dissecting a frog in Biology class, a 12-year-old boy who senses the approaching power of adulthood speculates about what he would do if he were God. This darkly whimsical, semi-autobiographical 3D animated short was directed by two-time Oscar®-nominated animator and long-time NFB filmmaker Cordell Barker.
Google Seminar Series on Gender & Racial Gaps in Film & Tech (4)
A forum to discuss solutions for changing long-standing gender and racial inequalities in opportunities in the world of film and technology, with the aim to inspire new filmmakers wanting to scale the heights of their chosen profession.
Dream, script, screen. Educational seminars built to illuminate and inspire, straight from the pros.