Miami International Film Festival Announces Full Slate of International Films
by Brian Brooks
Details of the 22nd annual Miami International Film Festival were unveiled this week with a slate of 87 features and 31 shorts from 47 countries to be featured with seven world debuts, 15 international, North American and U.S. premieres and 33 east coast premieres. Opening the event at downtown Miami's historic Gusman Theatre is writer/director Mick Davis' biopic "Modigliani," about the artist of the same name who rivaled Pablo Picasso as a pillar of 20th century art. In all, 17 films will have premieres at the Gusman Center for the Performing Arts, including the U.S. premieres of Carlos Sorin's drama "Bombon: The Dog," French drama "Sequins" by Eleonore Faucher, and San Francisco gang feature "Sucker Free City" by Spike Lee.
Also on tap Tuesday, February 8 is the presentation of this year's Career Achievement Tribute to Liv Ullmann for her distinguished body of work as both actor and director. Additionally, MIFF will fete the life and films of Jean Rouch in conjunction with the University of Miami and the French Consulate.
Thirteen films will screen in the fest's Dramatic Features -- World Cinema Competition. German/Austrian production "The Edukators" by Hans Weingartner will have its North American premiere. The film, starring Daniel Bruhl ("Good Bye, Lenin!") follows the story of two men who break into villas and rearrange the belongings of the elite, but the plot thickens after an "accidental" kidnapping of a businessman, and the appearance of a woman that both pursue. U.K. director Amma Asante's "A Way of Life" about a woman in a working class South Wales community who struggles to care for her infant amidst the harsh realities of daily life will make its U.S. debut in the section.
MIFF will screen 13 films in its Dramatic Features -- Ibero-American Cinema Competition, which features work from Latin America as well as Spain and Portugal. Spanish psychological drama "Alicia's Names" (Los Nombres de Alicia) will screen in the section as a world premiere. The feature focuses on a young English teacher who arrives in a small Spanish coastal town, and quickly becomes the object of fascination of each member of her "adopted" family. North American premieres include Spanish drama "Body Confusion" (Fuera del Cuerpo) about a hapless cop who stumbles across a crew that's filming his own life, and Dominican feature "La Carcel de La Victoria: The Fourth Man," a revenge drama filmed entirely in the notorious La Victoria prison.
The festival's Documentary Features -- World & Ibero-American Cinema Competition has 15 titles slated including the world premiere of Nicaraguan film "Along the Pathways" (Por los Caminos) by Gabriel Traversari. The film follows the citizens of the Central American country capturing the lives of a troubled people "searching for identity in a harsh and beautiful world." American director Billy Corben's "Cocaine Cowboys" will also have its world debut. The film is the true account of how Miami became the drug, murder and cash capital of the U.S. in the 1980s after the arrival of ruthless Colombian cocaine barons. The world premiere of "Code 33" by Zachary Werner, David Beilinson, Michael Galinski, and Suki Hawley ("Horns and Halos") centers on two Cuban-American detectives who pursued the infamous Miami-Dade serial killer in 2003, revealing a scared and outraged community.
Out of competition features include a line up of 17 films in world cinema, Ibero-American offerings and docs. U.S. director Ken Bowser's "Live From New York" will have its world premiere. The film chronicles the creation of "Saturday Night Live," told through the stars, writers, artists, musicians etc. about the rise of one of television history's most successful shows. Also a world premiere is Kimberly Green's "Once There Was a Country: Revisiting Haiti." The doc examines the healthcare crisis in Haiti through the story of a family and a shingle man undergoing tuberculosis and AIDS/HIV treatment under a new health initiative. Maya Angelou narrates the film.
"Unconscious" (Inconscientes) by Joaquin Oristrell will close the festival February 13. MIFF describes the film as the story of "an uptight doctor and his modernist sister-in-law [who] search for her husband in a seemingly buttoned-down 1913 Barcelona, and discover a lurid world of porn shoots, transvestite parties and Freudianism." The film is a Spanish/German/Portuguese/Italian production.
"I am proud to bring a program to Miami this year of the highest cinematic diversity, scope, and quality -- a rich tapestry of independent cinema from around the world, both dramatic and non-fiction, and many premieres," commented MIFF director Nicole Guillemet in a statement. "I was especially touched by the number of films this year with very personal, human stories and poignant emotion, as well as the large increase in films about the predicament of our time."