Oscar Shortlist candidates The Good Boss and Plaza Cathedral to Open & Close Fest;

Ari Wegner to Receive Art of Light (Cinematographer) Award

Miami, FL – (February 1, 2022) After being the first U.S. film festival to hold in-theater, in-person screenings in 2021 after a year-long quarantine mandate, Miami Dade College (MDC)’s acclaimed Miami Film Festival returns to present its 39th annual edition from March 4-13, 2022 in a hybrid format, with both in-theater and virtual presentations. Precious Gem Awards will be presented to Ramin Bahrani (2nd ChanceThe White Tiger) and Ryusuke Hamaguchi (Drive My Car). Art of Light Awards will be presented to cinematographer Ari Wegner (Zola, The Power of the Dog) and composer Cristobal Tapia de Veer (The White Lotus). The 2022 Festival will celebrate more than 120 feature narratives, documentaries, and short films of all genres, from more than 35 countries worldwide. 

“The collective spirit of joy and gratitude that we felt from patrons and filmmakers at last year’s shared in-person theatrical screenings strengthened the always mighty creative heart of Miami Film Festival,” said Festival Executive Director Jaie Laplante. “As we take all necessary precautions to ensure the continued safety of our patrons, we look forward to completing our fourth decade of programming by shining a light on some truly new and veteran outstanding creative cinematic talents.”

The Festival will present its Precious Gem Awards to Ryusuke Hamaguchi and Ramin Bahrani. The Precious Gem Award is the festival’s signature award, reserved for one-of-a-kind artists whose contributions to cinema are lasting and unforgettable. Hamaguchi is the Japanese director and writer of films such as Asako I & II, Wheel of Fortune & Fantasy and the 2021 arthouse hit Drive My Car, which has been awarded Best Film from the LA Film Critics Association, the New York Film Critics Circle, and the National Society of Film Critics; Best Screenplay at the Cannes Film Festival; and more than 50 additional accolades, making it one of the year’s most universally acclaimed films. Drive My Car has been shortlisted for the 2022 Academy Award for Best International Feature. Bahrani is the Academy Award-nominated Iranian-American writer, director and producer of such films as Man Push Cart, Chop Shop, 99 Homes, The White Tiger and the new documentary 2nd Chance, which will be screened at the Festival. 

Miami Film Festival’s Art of Light Awards are presented to cinematic artists whose exemplary work shines new wonders on the continuing evolution of motion pictures. Ari Wegner will receive the Art of Light Award (Cinematographer) for her work on the films Zola and The Power of the Dog. Wegner has received several award nominations this season, including a nomination for Zola from the Film Independent Spirit Awards and for The Power of the Dog from the American Society of Cinematographers. As previously announced, composer Cristobal Tapia de Veer will receive the Art of Light (Composer) Award, presented by Alacran Group, for his work on The White Lotus.

The Festival will open and close with two Oscar-shortlisted films, Fernando León de Aranoa’s Spanish comedy The Good Boss and Abner Benaim’s Panamanian drama Plaza Cathedral. This year’s closing night presentation will take place in the Festival’s new Awards Night gala home, the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts. At the 2020 Miami Film Festival, the closing night party was intended to be a celebration of Walter Mercado with Kareem Tabsch and Cristina Costantini’s Mucho Mucho Amor but was cancelled due to COVID; thus, the Festival will dedicate its 2022 opening night party at The Historic Alfred I. Dupont Building to Walter Mercado, and finally have the party for the former legendary Miami resident.

The Festival will include a special dedication to the memory of Sidney Poitier, the legendary Oscar-winning actor who passed away in January 2022. Poitier was born in Miami in 1927, grew up in the Bahamas and then emigrated to Miami at the age of 15, where he spent less than one year before moving to New York City. The Festival will screen the 1961 film version of Lorraine Hansberry’s original Broadway production of A Raisin in the Sun, in which Poitier gives one of his most complex and searing performances.

Knight Heroes, a popular program created with the support of John S. & James L. Knight Foundation, will return for its fourth consecutive year with a new format. Field of Vision’s IF/Then Shorts co-directors Caitlin Mae Burke and Merrill Sterritt will lead an informative panel for South Florida creatives, “Scaling a Short Film into a Short Form Series”, which will include filmmaker and development executive panelists.

Set to have their World Premieres at the Festival as Red CarpetSpecial Presentations are:

●        Borrowed (United States, directed by Oscar Ernesto Ortega and Carlos Betancourt), based on a play by Jim Kierstead, starring Jonathan del Arco and Héctor Medina

●        Croqueta Nation (United States, directed by Guillermo Alfonso)

●         Jezabel(Venezuela, directed by Hernán Jabes Aguila).

(Additional World Premieres are indicated in bold in below categories.)

Returning for an encore screening, five years after its original 2017 Miami Film Festival world premiere, will be Kenny Ortega’s A Change of Heart, produced by Emilio Estefan Jr. and starring Jim Belushi and Gloria Estefan. Perhaps one of the most popular Miami premieres of the past decade, the beloved film will re-launch as a Red Carpet Special Presentation on Friday, March 11.

Nine films, including one by a previous Miami Film Festival Precious Gem Master Awardee, Carlos Saura, are set to have their International, North American or US Premieres at the Festival as Special Presentations. They are:

●        Beba (United States/Mexico, directed by Rebeca Huntt) – US Premiere

●        Camila Comes Out Tonight (Camila Saldrá Esta Noche) (Argentina, directed by Inés Barrionuevo) – North American Premiere

●        A Film About Couples (Una Película Sobre Parejas) (Dominican Republic, directed by Natalia Cabral and Oriol Estrada) – North American Premiere

●        The King of All the World (El Rey de Todo El Mundo) (Mexico/Spain, directed by Carlos Saura) – US Premiere

●        Lemon and Poppy Seed Cake (Pan de Limón con Semillas de Amapola) (Spain/Luxembourg, directed by Benito Zambrano) – International Premiere

●        Lo Invisible (Ecuador/France, directed by Javier Andrade) – US Premiere

●        Montana Story (United States, directed by Scott McGehee and David Siegel) – US Premiere

●        The Phantom of the Open (UK, directed by Craig Roberts) – US Premiere

●        What Went Wrong? (¿Qué Hicimos Mal?) (Spain/Mexico, directed by Liliana Torres) – North American Premiere

The $25,000Knight MARIMBAS Award, supported by Knight Foundation, is an international competition for new narrative feature films that best exemplify 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 winner, Julio Hernandez Cordon’s Marimbas from Hell, which embodies the spirit of forward-looking cinema.) Nine films have been selected for this year’s Knight MARIMBAS Award, one of which previously screened at the Festival’s GEMS edition: Paris, 13th District. The other films up for the award are:

●     The Box (La Caja) (United States/Mexico, directed by Lorenzo Vigas) – US Premiere

●     The Cow Who Sang a Song Into the Future (Chile/France/United States/Germany, directed by Francisca Alegria) – East Coast Premiere

●     Drunken Birds (Canada, directed by Ivan Grbovic)

●     Freda (France/Benin/Haiti, directed by Géssica Généus) – US Premiere

●     Medusa (Brazil, directed by Anita Rocha Da Silveira)

●     Neptune Frost (Rwanda/United States, directed by Anisia Uzeyman and Saul Williams)

●     Out of Sync (Tres) (Spain/Lithuania/France, directed by Juanjo Gimenez) – East Coast Premiere

●     Soul of a Beast (Switzerland, directed by Lorenz Merz) – US Premiere

In addition to the Closing Night drama Plaza Cathedral (Panama/Mexico/Colombia), the $10,000 HBO Ibero-American Feature Film Award will have eight additional films competing for the cash prize, including one of which previously screened at the Festival’s GEMS edition: My Brothers Dream Awake. The other films up for the award are:

●     Amalgama (Mexico/Dominican Republic, directed by Carlos Cuarón) – US Premiere

●     Carajita (Dominican Republic/Argentina, directed by Silvina Schnicer and Ulises Porra Guardiola) – North America Premiere

●     Estación Catorce (Mexico/Uruguay, directed by Diana Cardozo) – International Premiere

●     The Lost Children of Jarabacoa (Dossier de Ausencias) (Dominican Republic, directed by Rolando Díaz) – North America Premiere

●     Mediterraneo: The Law of the Sea (Spain/Greece, directed by Marcel Barrena) – North America Premiere

●     Parsley (Perejil) (Dominican Republic, directed by José María Cabral) – World Premiere

●     The Unemployment Club (El Club del Paro) (Spain, directed by David Marqués) – International Premiere

The $55,000 Knight Made in MIA Award, supported by Knight Foundation, will award three jury-selectedprizes tofilms of any genre that features a substantial portion of its content (story, setting and actual filming location) in South Florida and that best utilizes its story and theme for universal resonance. The jury will award a first prize of $30,000, a second prize of $15,000 and a third prize of $10,000. The 18 films competing for this award are: 

●     Are You Down? (United States, directed by Dennis Scholl and Juan Luis Matos)

●     Blackness is Luxury (United States, directed by Kamaria McCall and Dorian Munroe)

●     Cariño (United States, directed by Fernanda Lamuño)

●     D3C05 (United States, directed by Blaze Gonzalez and Hannah Gaengler)

●     Daniel & Nate (United States, directed by Lauren Cater)

●     A Date, with History (United States, directed by Gaspar González)*screened at GEMS 2021

●     In Beauty it is Unfinished (United States, directed by Greko Sklavounos)

●     The Life of Bill Baggs (United States, directed by Patrick Longstreth and Anne Longstreth)

●     Light (United States, directed by Karla Caprali)

●     Little Havana By Rainy (United States, directed by Hector David Rosales)

●     Madame Pipi (United States/Haiti, directed by Rachelle Salnave)

●     The Mom Who Escaped (China/United States, directed by Xiaoxiao Xu)

●     Open Dialogues: Stories from the LGBTQ Community (United States, directed by Freddy Rodriguez)

●     Sirens of the Swamp (United States, directed by Hali Gardella and Emery Matson)

●     South Beach Shark Club: Legends and Lore of the South Florida Shark Hunters (United States, directed by Robert Requejo Ramos) – World Premiere

●     Un Pequeño Corte (United States, directed by Mariana Serrano)

●     Wade in the Water: Drowning Racism (United States, Cathleen Dean)

●     You Can Always Come Home (United States, Juan Luis Matos)

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. Eight films will compete for the Award, which are:

●     Amparo (Colombia/Sweden/Qatar, directed by Simón Mesa Soto) 

●     Anais in Love (France, directed by Charline Bourgeois-Tacquet) 

●     Candela (Dominican Republic/France, directed by Andrés Farías Cintrón) – US Premiere

●     The Gravedigger’s Wife (Somalia/Finland/Germany/France, directed by Khadar Ayderus Ahmed) 

●     Hatching (Finland/Sweden, directed by Hanna Bergholm) – East Coast Premiere

●     Immersion (Inmersión) (Chile/Mexico, directed by Nicolás Postiglione) – North America Premiere

●     Master (United States, directed by Mariama Diallo)

●     You Resemble Me (France/Egypt/United States, directed by Dina Amer)

While also competing for the Knight Made in MIA Award, South Beach Shark Club: Legends and Lore of the South Florida Shark Hunters will join thirteen other films for the audience-voted Documentary Achievement Award. The films are:

●     2nd Chance (United States, directed by Ramin Bahrani)

●     The Art of Making It (United States, directed by Kelcey Edwards) – co-presented with Oolite Arts

●     The Business of Birth Control (United States, directed by Abby Epstein)  

●     InHospitable (United States, directed by Sandra Alvarez)  

●     Jose Feliciano – Behind This Guitar (United States/Puerto Rico, directed by Frank Licari and Helen Murphy) – co-presented with O Cinema South Beach

●     Keep the Cameras Rolling: The Pedro Zamora Way (United States, directed by Stacey Woelfel and William T. Horner)

●     La Guerra Civil (United States, directed by Eva Longoria Bastón)  

●     Mija (United States, directed by Isabela Castro)

●     Omara (United States, directed by Hugo Perez) 

●     Option Zero (La Opción Cero) (Cuba/Brazil/Colombia, directed by Marcel Beltrán)

●     Outta the Muck (directed by Bhawin Suchak and Ira Mckinley) – East Coast Premiere

●     Strangers to Peace (Colombia, directed by Noah DeBonis and Laura Angel Rengifo) – World Premiere

●     Veritas (United States, directed by Eliecer Jiménez Almeida) – World Premiere

More Special Presentation screenings will add to the depth of creative filmmaking from around the world to Miami, featuring numerous Miami Film Festival alumni filmmakers. They include:

●        Alt-Sit (Sudan/Qatar, directed by Suzannah Mirghani)

●        The Daughter (La Hija) (Spain, directed by Manuel Martín Cuenca)

●        The Duke (UK, directed by Roger Michell)

●        Everything Went Fine (France, directed by François Ozon)

●        Film, the Living Record of Our Memory (Spain/Canada, directed by Inés Toharia) – co-presented with Coral Gables Art Cinema

●        Lifeline: Clyfford Still (United States, directed by Dennis Scholl) – making its long-awaited Miami premiere

●        Maixabel (Spain, directed by Icíar Bollaín)

●        Manos de Oro (United States, directed by Merced Elizondo)

●        One Second (China, directed by Zhang Yimou)

●        Operation Pedro Pan: The Cuban Children’s Exodus (United States, directed by Carlos Victor Gutierrez)

●        Petite Maman (France, directed by Céline Sciamma)

●        Queens of the Revolution (United States, directed by Rebecca Heidenberg)

●        Silent Land (Poland/Italy/Czech Republic, directed by Agnieszka Woszczynska)

The $10,000 WarnerMedia OneFifty Latino Short Film Awards will award $5,000 to one winning Spanish-language short film, and $1,250 to four Spanish-language runners-up. The films competing this year are:

●     Chilly & Milly (United States, directed by William David Caballero)

●     For Some Horses (Por unos caballos) (Chile, directed by Tomás Alzamora)

●     Hector’s Woman (La mujere de Héctor) (Puerto Rico/United States, directed by Ricardo Varona)

●     It’s Not Her (No Es Ella) (Chile, directed by Samuel Gonzalez)

●     The Year of the Radio (Mexico, directed by Samuel Kishi Leopo)

The $5,000 Miami International Short Film Award competition features 18 films. The complete list includes:

●     The Bones (Los Huesos) (Chile, directed by Cristóbal León and Joaquin Cociña)

●     Burros (United States, directed by Jefferson Stein)

●     Eureka (United States, directed by Miida Chu)

●     Flowing Home (France/Canada, directed by Sandra Desmazieres)

●     Fufu (Canada, directed by Omolola Ajao)

●     Imposible Decirte Adiós (Spain, directed by Yolanda Centeno)

●     Linda (United States, directed by Kali Kahn)

●     Matryoshka (Cuba, directed by Sheyla Pool)

●     Murder Tongue (Pakistan, directed by Ali Sohail Jaura)

●     Nalujuk Night (Canada, directed by Jennie Williams)

●     Neon Phantom (Brazil, directed by Leonardo Martinelli)

●     Night Visit (Israel, directed by Mya Kaplan)

●     Nuevo Rico (United States/Puerto Rico, directed by Kristian Mercado)

●     Seen It (India, directed by Adithi Krishnades)

●     Suburbs Apology (Apología de extrarradio) (Spain, directed by Raúl Monge)

●     Tundra (Cuba, directed by José Luis Aparicio)

●     Two Women (Israel, directed by Yuval Kaminsky)

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