The Miami International Film Festival: Celebrating Film in Miami

Film aficionados, are you prepared to watch more than 100 films from 40 countries within a week? This includes four world premieres. Well, if last Sunday’s Oscars didn’t encourage you to head to your local theater, the Miami International Film Festival may.

Miami Dade College, the only major film festival presented and run by a college or university, has a full-fledged lineup of films. The festival officially begins this Friday, March 4, and will run for a week, ending on March 13. The official Opening Night Film will occur at the Gusman Center for the Performing Arts at 7 p.m., the animated Latin love story, Chico & Rita. The film revolves around the chance meeting of Oscar, a penny-less piano player, and Rita, a sultry singer, and is set in the late 1940s. It also celebrates the return of the movie’s Oscar- and Goya Award-winning Spanish director Fernando Trueba. He has been absent from the festival for a decade. The film was also directed by graphic artist Javier Mariscal, and its soundtrack is by the legendary Cuban bandleader and composer Bebo Valdes.

Some directors are already taking advantage of the spotlight to show their films prior to the official opening of the festival, such as a film about group of Mumbai street children recruited to perform a one-time-only concert with the members of the elite Bombay Chamber Orchestra. The documentary, The Sound of Mumbai: A Musical (pictured above), directed by Sarah McCarthy and produced by Joe Walters, had a special screening tonight at 7 p.m. at the New World Center.

The official Awards Night film will be the Academy Award-nominated Incendies by Canadian film director Denis Villeneuve. The film is a tale of two young adult twins’ journey to the Middle East to trace the puzzled history of their mother’s roots. Other screenings at the festival include the Red Carpet World Premiere of Things Fall Apart, co-written by and starring Curtis Jackson, otherwise known as the American hip-hop artist 50 Cent. It’s produced by the city’s own Randall Emmett. Jackson underwent a dramatic weight loss to portray a high school football player stricken with cancer in the drama. Also screening is Potiche, starring Catherine Deneuve and Gerard Depardieu, and the hit from the Sundance Film Festival, The Greatest Movie Ever Sold.

The film festival will also have a tribute to Danish filmmaker Susanne Beir, and film industry leaders will lead panel discussions and educational seminars. There will also be competitions and more.

Directing this year’s event is Jaie Laplante. Laplante, according to the Miami Herald, is a former events producer and self-proclaimed movie fanatic who was formerly the associate director of the Food Network South Beach Wine and Food Festival.

The Miami International Film Festival has existed since 1983; over the years, it has increased its budget and has drawn film industry insiders and tens of thousands of moviegoers. Learn more about the events at the Miami International Film Festival’s official website.

I’ll also keep you posted on what’s to come. Also, visit my blog “It Is Written…BY” — Bridging Business News with Hot Topics.

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