The Burnt Orange Heresy, the fifth screen adaptation of the works of late Miami noir novelist Charles Willeford, starring Mick Jagger, Donald Sutherland, Elizabeth Debicki and Claes Bang, will open the 37th edition of Miami Dade College (MDC)’s acclaimed Miami Film Festival, on Friday, March 6 at downtown Miami’s historic Olympia Theater. In all, the Festival will present more than 125 feature narratives, documentaries and short films of all genres, from 30 different countries. The Festival runs from March 6 – 15.
“Charles Willeford’s classic 1971 art world noir thriller The Burnt Orange Heresy has been updated by director Giuseppe Capotondi and Academy Award-nominated screenwriter Scott Smith into a biting satire of the world of contemporary high art and the attendant, controversial role of art criticism that swirls around it – an apt examination for Miami’s current major destination status on the international art market,” said Festival director Jaie Laplante. “The film is swanky, steamy and sexy, with Willeford’s jet-black, cruelly-ironic humor firmly in tact.”
A 35mm, 30th anniversary screening of the Alec Baldwin-Jennifer Jason Leigh adaptation of Willeford’s Miami Blues (1990) is also planned for the Festival, as well as a month-long exhibition of Willeford memorabilia and odes to the other Willeford screen adaptations at MDC’s Tower Theater Miami beginning February 7 and leading up to Opening Night. Willeford, who passed away in 1988, was a former writing professor at Miami Dade College for 16 years.
Mucho Mucho Amor, the Sundance-debuting documentary recently acquired by Netflix for worldwide rights, about the life and vision of legendary Puerto Rican astrologer Walter Mercado, will close the Festival on Awards Night on Saturday, March 14 at the Olympia. Filmmakers Cristina Costantini, Miami native Kareem Tabsch and Miami-born producer Alex Fumero will be in attendance to present the film in person. Our Awards Night screening and Gala are presented and sponsored by ArtesMiami and U.S. Century Bank. The film includes interviews with Lin-Manuel Miranda and Eugenio Derbez and many others. The film, which will compete for the $30,000 Knight Made in MIA Feature Film Award, supported by John S. & James L. Knight Foundation, as well as the Festival’s Documentary Achievement Award, celebrates Mercado’s long history with Miami, and HistoryMiami Museum’s recent 2019 exhibition honoring Mercado’s 50-year legacy.
“There will be no better way to wrap up our 37th year of sharing our love for cinema and Miami than with Cristina and Kareem’s sharing of the incredibly positivity and love that the life of Walter Mercado represents,” added Laplante.
Academy Award-nominated actress Amy Ryan will receive the Festival’s Precious Gem Award on Monday, March 9th at the historic Tower Theater Miami. Ryan was nominated for the Oscar in 2008 for her supporting role in Ben Affleck’s Gone Baby Gone, and has been nominated for two Tony Awards. Ryan is also known for her film roles working with Oscar-winning filmmakers Alejandro Iñárritu, Steven Spielberg, Tom McCarthy, among many others, and for her popular role on “The Office” on television. Ryan will receive the honor as the Festival screens the Florida premiere of her tour-de-force lead performance in Lost Girls, directed by Liz Garbus. Garbus, a two-time Academy Award nominated documentarian, makes her narrative feature debut with Lost Girls, and will take part in a featured Marquee conversation on her career and new direction in narrative filmmaking.
Spain’s Goya-winning actress Emma Suárez will receive a Career Achievement Tribute, sponsored by Estrella Damm, and the Festival’s Precious Gem Award on Thursday, March 12 at the Silverspot Cinema in downtown Miami. Suárez has won three Goya Awards (Spain’s Academy Awards), for Best Actress in The Dog in the Manger (El perro del hortelano) (96) and Pedro Almodóvar’s Julieta (16), and Best Supporting Actress for The Next Skin (La propera pell) (16). Suárez will receive the Festival tribute prior to the screening of the US premiere of her new film Window to the Sea (Una ventana al mar), and participate in an On-Stage Conversation with the film’s director, Miguel Ángel Jiménez. Suárez will also appear onscreen at the Festival in another new film, The Invisible (Invisibles), by Gracia Querejeta.
Knight Heroes, a program created with the support of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, will return in 2020 after its successful 2019 debut. With a focus on the emerging new generation of South Florida moving image content creators, three bold and bright talents will share their insights, observations and advice about their creative paths and future outlooks in a two-hour in-person session at Olympia Theater beginning at 3:05pm on Sunday, March 8. This year’s edition features acclaimed horror filmmaker Ari Aster (Hereditary, Midsommar), writer-director Stella Meghie, whose new film The Photograph with Issa Rae and LaKeith Stanfield opens February 14, and Miami-raised filmmaker Lulu Wang (The Farewell).
All screenings at the Olympia Theater as well as those at the Festival’s screening headquarters, Silverspot Cinema, are part of the Festival’s CINEDWNTWN series, sponsored by Miami Downtown Development Authority. Major highlights of the CINEDWNTWN series include:
With South Florida currently one of the most fertile, diverse and prolific independent film scenes in the United States, Mucho Mucho Amor, Reefa and Us Kids are emblematic of a wave of films emerging in 2020 that Miami Film Festival will be championing in various categories across the entire Official Selection, but most prominently in the Festival’s Knight Made in MIA Award competition, supported by Knight Foundation. This year, 12 feature-length films – nine of them World Premieres, including Reefa – that feature a substantial portion of their content (story, setting and actual filming location) in South Florida, from West Palm Beach to the Florida Keys, and that most universally demonstrates a common ground of pride, emotion, and faith for the South Florida community, will compete for the $30,000 cash prize.
The Opening Film of the Knight Made in MIA Feature Film Award competition will be the World Premiere of When Liberty Burns, directed by Dudley Alexis, a documentary that examines the 40th anniversary of the Arthur McDuffie race riots that took place in Miami in 1980, and their current context in Miami’s contemporary consciousness. A panel will take place after the World Premiere screening, moderated by Nadege Green of WLRN. Additional films selected for the competition include:
Marcus and The Last Rafter will additionally compete for the $10,000 Jordan Ressler First Feature Award. Mucho Mucho Amor, Us Kids, When Liberty Burns, List(e)n, Michael Tilson Thomas: Where Now Is, Paper Children and They Call Me Dr. Miami will additionally compete for the Festival’s Documentary Achievement Award. The Definition of Insanity will additionally compete for the Documentary Achievement Award and the $5,000 Zeno Mountain Award, presented by Fringe Partners.
Reefa, in addition to The Weasels Tale and Resistance, will also compete for the Festival’s Knight MARIMBAS Award, an international competition that awards $40,000 to a new narrative feature film that best exemplifies richness and resonance for cinema’s future. (A marimba is a variation of a xylophone that produces a deeper, richer and more resonant tone that a traditional xylophone. The marimba originated in Guatemala and Central America approximately 400 years ago and remains popular to this day in a wide variety of musical disciplines. The name of Miami Film Festival’s award is inspired by its 2011, Julio Hernandez Cordon’s Marimbas from Hell, which embodies the spirit of forward-looking cinema.) The films selected for this year’s Knight MARIMBAS Award competition include the following major premieres:
Additional films selected to compete for the 2020 Knight MARIMBAS Award are:
These films join the previously announced Knight MARIMBAS Award nominees from the Festival’s fall GEMS program: By the Grace of God (France, François Ozon), Clemency (USA, Chinonye Chukwiu), Parasite (South Korea, Bong Joon-Ho), Portrait of a Lady on Fire (Celine Sciamma, France) and Staff Only (Spain, Neus Ballus). Eduardo and Monica, High Tide, The Invisible, Out in the Open and Overnight will additionally compete in the HBO Ibero-american Feature Film Award competition.
Knight Foundation also supports the Festival’s Knight Made in MIA Short Film Award competition, which awards $10,000 to the best short film – of any genre – that again features a substantial portion of its content (story, setting and actual filming location) in South Florida, from West Palm Beach to the Florida Keys, and that most universally demonstrates a common ground of pride, emotion, and faith for the South Florida community. The films in this competition are:
HBO returns as sponsor of the Festival’s $10,000 HBO Ibero-American Feature Film Award and $10,000 HBO Ibero-American Short Film Award competitions. In addition to Eduardo and Monica, High Tide, The Invisible, Out in the Open and Overnight, the films selected for the Feature Film Award include:
These films join the previously announced HBO Ibero-American Feature Film Award nominee from the Festival’s fall GEMS program: Litus (Spain, Dani de la Orden). The Innocence, Lina from Lima, A Mother, Our Mothers, This is Cristina and Workforce will additionally compete for the $10,000 Jordan Ressler First Feature Award; A Mother and One For All will additionally compete for the Festival’s $5,000 Zeno Mountain Award; and Gonzalo Maza will be honored as one of Variety’s 10 Latinxs To Watch for 2020 at the Festival.
The films selected for the HBO Ibero-American Short Film Award competition include:
The winning short film will receive $5,000 and the four runners-up will receive $1,250 each.
The $10,000 Jordan Ressler First Feature Award is sponsored by the South Florida family of the late Jordan Ressler, an aspiring screenwriter and Cornell University Film Studies graduate who, during his brief entertainment career, held production positions on Broadway hits before passing away in a tragic accident at the age of 23. In addition to J.R. Poli for Marcus, Carlos Betancourt and Oscar Ernesto Ortega for The Last Rafter, Lucia Alemany for The Innocence, María Paz Gonzalez for Lina from Lima, Diogenes Cuevas for A Mother, César Diaz for Our Mothers, Gonzalo Maza for This is Cristina, and David Zonana for Workforce, the filmmakers selected for the competition include:
These films join the previously announced Jordan Ressler First Feature Award nominees from the Festival’s fall GEMS program: Les Misérables (France, Ladj Ly) and Swallow (USA, Carlo Mirabella-Davis). A Mother and Catching Up will additionally compete for the Festival’s $5,000 Zeno Mountain Award.
Nine films in the Festival’s Premiere Documentary Spotlight section, direct from their recent world premieres and certain to dominate cinematic conversations throughout 2020, will compete for the audience-voted Documentary Achievement Award :
These films will be joined in competing for the audience-voted Documentary Achievement Award by Mucho Mucho Amor, Us Kids, When Liberty Burns, The Definition of Insanity, List(e)n, Michael Tilson Thomas: Where Now Is, Paper Children, They Call Me Dr. Miami and additional films including:
These films join the previously announced Documentary Achievement Award nominee from the Festival’s fall GEMS program: Letter to the Editor (USA, Alan Berliner).
Crip Camp and The Definition of Insanity join A Mother, One For All and Catching Up in competing for the Festival’s $5,000 Zeno Mountain Award presented by Fringe Partners, a group of films which celebrate the diversity of abilities and disabilities. The award seeks to reward the film which helps break down barriers to our understanding of people living with disabilities. An additional film included in this category is “Endure The Suck” (USA, directed by Isaac Mead-Long).
Special Presentations screening out-of-competition in the Festival’s Cinema 360 program include:
Miami Film Festival returns as host of Variety’s 10 Latinxs To Watch, to be celebrated at the Festival on March 14th at Cvltvra Restaurant. The prestigious list of talent-on-the-rise for 2020 will be:
The Alacran Music In Film Award will return to celebrate the artist and individual behind the composition of a film’s music score and highlight the importance of music in film, a $5,000 cash prize for Best Original Score will be awarded, courtesy of Alacran Group.
A new partnership with Oolite Arts highlights two elements of film art where creativity converges with marketing skills. “The Art of Trailer Editing”, an Oolite Arts SKILLS Workshop at the Festival, will be led by Joseph Hackman, who has created trailers for films distributed by Sony Pictures Classics, Studio Ghibli and The Orchard, among others, and who won Miami Film Festival’s inaugural Best Trailer Award in 2019 for the trailer he created for Yann Gonzalez’s Knife+Heart. In addition to leading the workshop, Hackman will select the $2,500 winner of the Oolite Arts Miami Film Festival Best Trailer Award 2020 from all films in the Official Selection who opted in to the competition.
Additionally, “The Art of The Poster”, the second Oolite Arts SKILLS Workshop at the Festival, will be conducted by Edel Rodriguez, who won the Festival’s inaugural Best Poster Award in 2019 for the poster he created for Sheyla Pool’s short film “Fragile”. The Workshop will be moderated by Carmen Pelaez.
The Festival announces a “Conversation on the Art and Business of Screenwriting” with writer and producer Gregory Allen Howard, whose latest production, Harriet, is currently a double Academy Award nominee. The Conversation will be moderated by Kevin Sharpley.
Documentarian and theater artist Josh Fox, nominated for an Oscar in 2010 for Gasland, will take part in a Conversation on Tuesday, March 10th regarding his latest project, a film-theater hybrid known as The Truth Has Changed. The Conversation is presented in collaboration with MDC Live Arts and moderated by the Festival’s Senior Documentary Programmer, Thom Powers.
Additional seminars and masterclasses will be announced in the lead up to the Festival. Seventeen short films compete for the Festival’s Short Film Award, including:
Florida college students will battle it out in the Lynn and Louis Wolfson II Family Foundation CinemaSlam Competition 2020. This year’s Cinemaslam offers $42,500 in cash prizes to both completed and work-in-progress projects that plan to make use of archival material from the Lynn and Louis Wolfson II Florida Moving Image Archives at MDC to support their content.
As part of the lead up to the 37th Festival, two family-oriented Foodie Move Nights in the Park will take place in collaboration with the South Beach Wine & Food Festival. On February 21, a free screening of the Helen Mirren film The Hundred-Foot Journey hosted by the legendary pastry chef Jacques Torres; and on February 22, the animated hit Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs will screen, hosted by Food Network personality Valerie Bertinelli, will screen under the stars at Peter Bluesten Park in the City of Hallendale Beach. Tickets for the food trucks and park entrance are available at www.sobewff.org
The Festival’s specialty programmers are Associate Director of Programming Lauren Cohen, Senior Programmers Thom Powers, Kiva Reardon and Carl Spence, and staff programmers Nicolas Calzada and Diana Cadavid.
Additional major sponsors of the Festival are American Airlines, Miami-Dade County, Tilia Real Estate and The Historic Alfred I. Dupont Building, State of Florida, Toyota, Telemundo, Viendomovies, FlixLatino, official beer sponsor Estrella Damm, Festival headquarter hotel JW Marriott Marquis Miami, Festival media headquarter hotel Kimpton EPIC Hotel, NBC, AIDS Healthcare Foundation, Miami New Times, Consulate General of Canada in Miami, YoungArts and TV5Monde USA. The Festival is produced with additional support from the City of Coral Gables and Marqués de Riscal.
Festival screening venues are Olympia Theater, Silverspot Cinema, MDC’s Tower Theater Miami, and Coral Gables Art Cinema.
Individual tickets for all Festival events will go on sale to the general public beginning February 13. Festival members have the opportunity for pre-buy. For more information, visit miamifilmfestival.com or call 1-844-565-6433 (MIFF) or 305-237-FILM (3456).
About Miami Dade College’s Miami Film Festival
Miami Film Festival is the only major film festival event housed within a college or university. Celebrating cinema in two annual events, Miami GEMS Festival in October and its 37th annual edition March 6 – 15, 2020, Miami Dade College’s Miami Film Festival is considered the preeminent film festival for showcasing Ibero-American cinema in the U.S., and a major launch pad for all international and documentary cinema. The annual Festival attracts more than 45,000 audience members and more than 400 filmmakers, producers, talent and industry professionals. In the last ten years, the Festival has screened films from more than 60 countries, including 550 World, International, North American, U.S. and East Coast Premieres. Miami Film Festival’s special focus on Ibero-American cinema has made the Festival a natural gateway for the discovery of new talent from this diverse territory. The Festival also offers unparalleled educational opportunities to film students and the community at large. Major sponsors of the 2019-20 Festival season include Knight Foundation, Miami Downtown Development Authority, Telemundo, American Airlines and Miami-Dade County. For more information, visit miamifilmfestival.com or call 305-237-FILM (3456).