Today is the day tickets for films at the 31st Miami International Film Festival go on sale to the general public. The opening night was about a month away, when I called up the festival’s director, Jaie Laplante. He had just finalized the line-up with three major, late additions to the program, bringing the total number of feature films at this year’s festival to 97. They included the new thriller Open Windows, by Spanish director Nacho Vigalondo, starring Elijah Wood and Sasha Grey. It will have its world premiere only a few days before MIFF at South By Southwest. There was also An Unbreakable Bond, a documentary by Emilio and Gloria Estefan about Marc Buoniconti, a man who turned a tragic injury into a triumph. Finally, he mentioned Kid Cannabis, a world premiere from actor-turned-director John Stockwell. Tickets to these films and the rest of the program can be found here.
We spoke for about 20 minutes that day. Laplante even gave up the names of some of his personal favorites. You can find out what some of those are, by jumping through the link to the art and culture blog “Cultist,” at the “Miami New Times,” below:
During our chat he mentioned one other favorite that I too am very excited about: Locations: Looking for Rusty James, a film about one of Francis Ford Coppola’s more underrated films, Rumble Fish (My personal favorite film: ‘Rumble Fish;’ read my ode to Coppola’s underrated masterpiece in AFI), and it’s influence on young people in Chile when it was released in the early 1980s. Laplante called Locations, “a very different kind of documentary. It’s not so narrative-driven … It’s more of a personal essay type of film, extraordinarily moving, but a different type of film for us in the documentary competition.”
I only left his mention of Locations out of the “Cultist” interview of his favorites because I had already gushed about it at the end of an earlier post in “Cultist,” which can be found here. It will make those who are already fans of Rumble Fish swoon and those unfamiliar with the source of inspiration for Locations will surely want to seek it out once they experience this special film essay by Chilean director Alberto Fuguet. Here’s a handy link to purchase the U.S. DVD and support Independent Ethos at the same time: check out Rumble Fish.
My interest in films at MIFF has always been the more experimental works, so we also talked about one of my favorite categories of the festival: Visions, which featured a pair of favorite films from last year’s festival, Leviathan and Post Tenebras Lux. However, this year, that section has been toned down a bit. “It’s much smaller than last year,” noted Laplante, “but we have two films in there. One of them is Ari Folman’s The Congress. The other one is a German film called Wetlands, which was just in Sundance. Both of those are programmed by Andres Castillo [Managing Director & Senior Programmer of MIFF].”
But those looking for interesting experimental cinema need not look further than Miami’s own backyard. Local filmmakers took the spotlight at the press conference announcing this year’s line-up. Click through the image below of some of these filmmakers on stage with Laplante at Miami-Dade College’s Wolfson campus to hear a little from them:
You can watch the complete (uncensored) press conference below:
Finally, there’s a more focused article on local filmmakers that will be available in this month’s issue of “Pure Honey,” a ‘zine that can be found at hip independent shops and cafes across the Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach County area. Or you can read the article, by jumping through the “Pure Honey” logo below:
Of course, MIFF is also about getting the stars down to Miami. Though some big ones have already been booked, including what some would consider “living legends,” when Laplante and I spoke, he was still working on inviting a few more. Here’s Laplante on some of the festival guests that will walk the red carpet this year: “We’re still confirming a lot of our guests, but Shirley MacLaine and Christopher Plummer are attending our opening night gala presentation [for Elsa & Fred], as well as director Michael Radford. We have Andy Garcia and Raymond de Filitta confirmed for our award night film Rob the Mob, a world premiere. We have, of course, John Turturro, who we are paying tribute to. He will be here to accept the tribute award in person. Shep Gordon is going to be coming and speaking about his experiences making the movie [Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon] with Mike Myers. Most, if not all, the directors in the competition will be here, as well as the directors from the Lexus Opera Prima Competition and we’re still, as I said, working on other guests, but those are some names I can tell you are confirmed now.”
The Miami International Film Festival runs March 7 – March 16 and takes place in several venues across Miami-Dade. For tickets and more info visit miamifilmfestival.com.