“The Clan” (El Clan), the Argentina-Spain co-production about the notorious well-to-do Puccio family who kidnapped and murdered several of their neighbors in 1980s-era Buenos Aires, continued its march to next year’s Academy Awards with a victory yesterday in the coveted Audience Award category at Miami Dade College’s Miami International Film Festival‘s new GEMS Festival, which has the distinction of being the only major film festival produced worldwide by a college or university.
Already breaking box office records in its domestic release in Argentina, “The Clan” received its U.S. Premiere at GEMS and was one of many sell-outs throughout the Festival’s new fall event. Director Pablo Trapero and the film’s star, Guillermo Francella, received a prolonged ovation from the Miami audience for their ferocious take on the real-life Arquímedes Puccio, as they took questions from the audience after the screening.
Earlier in the evening, recently retired “Sábado Gigante” media icon and global celebrity Don Francisco accepted the Festival’s Precious Gem Award prior to the closing night screening of Patricia Riggen’s Warner Bros/Alcon release, “The 33,” in which Don Francisco appears as himself. The award was presented by Miami Dade College president Dr. Eduardo J. Padrón in recognition of Don Francisco’s significant contributions to the story and progress in 2010 of the fate of the trapped Copiapó miners.
“The 33” cast members Rodrigo Santoro, Juan Pablo Raba and Kate del Castillo, along with director Riggen, celebrated the honor on stage with Don Francisco in an emotional pre-screening ceremony. Festival Director & Director of Programing, Jaie Laplante, noted “The 33’s” synergy with Miami International Film Festival’s current celebrations of its 33rd season, which will culminate in the annual beloved event this coming March 4 – 13, 2016. “The heroic undercurrent of the absolute value for human life in ‘The 33’ make this the ‘now’ film for Miami, Chile and the world,” he said. “The 33″ was declared the runner-up in a close race for the Audience Award, named this year in honor of the late Miami arts patron, Gigi Guermont.
“The 33” capped a four-day weekend of dazzling cinematic jewels in the GEMS Festival. Also captivating GEMS patrons were actress Antonia Zegers, on hand to discuss her work and the issues in Pablo Larraín’s devastating Chilean Oscar submission, “The Club“ (El club), and American filmmakers Trey Edward Shults, presenting his SXSW-award winning film “Krisha,” and Bent-Jorgen Perlmutt, who brought with him several of the subjects of his documentary “Havana Motor Club.”
Spanish director María Ripoll presented the U.S. premiere of her delightful box office sensation in Spain, “It’s Now or Never” (Ahora o nunca). Pop star Melody, who appears in the film and sings the comedy’s theme song, surprised audiences with a live performance of the catchy number prior to the GEMS screening.
Music was a major theme and highlight throughout the GEMS weekend. Miami-based composer Carlos Rafael Rivera paid tribute to the late Oscar-winning composer James Horner, whose riveting score for “The 33″ was one of his last major works, completed shortly before the tragic aviation accident that claimed his life last June.
The Cannes-winning film from Hou Hsiao-Hsien, “The Assassin,” and two films from Italian masters, Paolo Sorrentino’s “Youth” and Nanni Moretti’s “Mia Madre,” were among the films received the biggest buzz over the GEMS weekend. Colombia’s Oscar submission “Embrace of the Serpent,” was rapturously received and praised for its outstanding cinematography and powerful ethnographic tale of aboriginal genocide in the Amazon jungle. “A Perfect Day“, the new film by a favorite director of Miami International Film Festival for many years, Spain’s Fernando de Leon Aranoa, received its first US screening, and the wonderful performances in that film by Benicio del Toro and Tim Robbins were also among the weekend’s major talking points.
The 33rd annual Miami International Film Festival will take place March 4-13, 2016