Miami International Film Festival hints at Spanish heavy line-up for 2016



It was NOT a complete reveal of what’s in store for 2016, but in a press release that came out yesterday, Miami Dade College’s 33rd Miami International Film Festival announced 15 titles that it will premiere in Miami at next year’s festival (March 4 – 13). The announcement kicks off with the unveiling of the festival’s opening night film, My Big Night (Mi Gran Noche), by Spanish director Álex de la Iglesia. The comedy should make for anther grandiose opening for the festival at the ornate, 1,710-seat Olympia Theater at the Gusman Center for the Performing Arts. The 32nd annual festival opened with another raucous Spanish-language film, the Argentine film Wild Tales (Wild Tales doesn’t turn the other cheek — A Film Review).

My Big Night features Spanish pop singer Raphael (pictured above) playing a fictionalized version of himself. He will attend the screening as the festival’s opening night special guest. The movie’s story is set at a television studio, during a 2016 New Year’s Eve program where Murphy’s Law seems in full effect. I recommend checking out Jonathan Holland’s review of the film in The Hollywood Reporter for a balanced take. Regardless of his view, you will know whether this is your kind of movie or not. He calls it “madcap” in the traditional sense.

The film’s director has appeared at the Miami International Film Festival with three other films in the past, including Witching and Bitching (Las brujas de Zugarramurdi) in 2014, The Last Circus (Balada triste de trompeta), which screened at MIFF 2011 and Perfect Crime (Crimen ferpecto) which screened at the 2005 festival. But, for this writer, he will always be the guy that gave Spanish cinema the most insane performance ever by Javier Bardem in Perdita Durango (1997), which didn’t play the festival but has become a cult classic.


Spain seems to be a major focus for next year’s MIFF, considering the other titles announced in the press release. Below my signature you will find the full release with all the films announced thus far plus details for tickets and a few other notable events, including the opening night party and a seminar on animation.

Hans Morgenstern

Álex de la Iglesia’s My Big Night (Mi Gran Noche) Opens an Outstanding Spanish Selection at Miami Dade College’s 33rd Miami International Film Festival

Star-studded comedy heralds an incredible line-up

 of Spanish films debuting in Miami in 2016

Miami, FL — Álex de la Iglesia, one of Spain’s most charismatic and dynamic filmmakers, will open Miami Dade College’s 33rd Miami International Film Festival on March 4, 2016, with his new film My Big Night (Mi Gran Noche), starring Spanish pop icon Raphael and an ensemble cast of many of the biggest stars in the Spanish film industryThe Festival is the only major film festival produced worldwide by a college or university.

In a sly performance of self-referencing parody, Raphael plays “Alphonso”, a legendary pop singer with over 50 years of chart-topping success who is headlining a New Year’s Eve 2016 TV special.  The taping of the show and the backstage shenanigans surrounding it drive the comic engine of My Big NightIn a special treat for Miami audiences, Raphael will appear in person at the screening to officially inaugurate this year’s Festival.

The film also stars Mario Casas, Santiago Segura, Carlos Areces, Blanca Suarez, Hugo Silva, Carmen Machi, Carolina Bang and many other talented Spanish stars. The title of the film is a reference to one of Raphael’s most famous songs, the 1967 hit “Mi Gran Noche.”

“Álex de la Iglesia has made a perfect pop movie with My Big Night,” declared the Festival’s executive director & director of programming Jaie Laplante.  “This riotously funny film is much more than one of the very best films by de la Iglesia, it is a party!”

The “party on screen” at the Olympia Theater at Gusman Center will continue after the film with an outstanding Opening Night party as the Festival returns to its traditional venue, the Historic Alfred I. Dupont Building.  The party promises to ring in the new Festival with glitz and cheer, boasting rocking music, cuisine, cocktails, and dancing, similar to a glittering NYE bash.  The events kick off the Festival’s CINEDWNTWN series, sponsored by Miami’s Downtown Development Authority.  Tickets for My Big Night + Opening Night Party are already on sale at

My Big Night is just the beginning of an outstanding selection of many of the biggest and most important films from Spain that will be featured at the 33rd edition of the Festival.  Festival organizers released a large portion of that slate today, continuing with three major US premieres that are all slated for the CINEDWNTWN GALAS PRESENTED BY MIAMI DOWNTOWN DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY program:

javier-camara-ricardo-darin-truman by Maku Lopez

  • Cesc Gay’s Truman, starring Ricardo Darín and Javier Cámara, already heralded as a front-runner for the 2016 Goya Awards (Spanish Academy Awards).
  • Emilio Martínez Lázaro’s Spanish Affair 2 (Ocho apellidos catalanes), the record-breaking sequel to Ocho apellidos vascos, the highest-grossing Spanish film of all-time at the Spanish box office.
  • Fernando González Molina’s Palm Trees in the Snow (Palmeras en la nieve), the epic, big budget adaptation of Luz Gabás’s sweeping romantic novel of Spanish Guinea in Central Africa. The highly anticipated film, also starring Mario Casas, is set to open in Spain on Christmas Day.

Six other Spanish feature films will also receive their US premiere at the Festival. They are:

  • Agusti Villaronga’s The King of Havana (El rey de La Habana), a scandalous adaptation of Cuban writer Pedro Juan Gutierrez’s scabrous 1999 novel, filmed in and co-produced with the Dominican Republic.
  • Federico Veiroj’s The Apostate (El apostata), winner of Miami’s 2015 post-production Encuentros prize sponsored by Knight Foundation, an eccentric comedy about a young Spaniard seeking to remove the official Catholic status from his birth records.
  • Paula Ortiz’s The Bride (La Novia), an earthy, sensual new adaption of Lorca’s Blood Wedding, starring Inma Cuesta and Álex Garcia. Both actors are familiar to Miami audiences from their 2015 Festival visits with their most recent films, Sidetracked and Kamikaze.
  • Daniel Guzmán’s Nothing in Exchange (A cambio de nada), the big winner at the 2015 Málaga Film Festival, the feature film directorial debut of the popular actor;
  • Juana Macías’ We Are Pregnant (Embarazados), a delightful romantic comedy with a swoon-inducing lead performance by Spanish heartthrob Paco León;
  • Gustavo Ron’s My Bakery in Brooklyn, featured as part of Lee Brian Schrager’s Culinary Cinema series

Additional majority Spanish production titles confirmed for the 2016 Festival include:

Still from Julio Medem’s Ma Ma

  • Julio Medem’s Ma Ma, starring Penélope Cruz
  • Gracia Querejeta’s Happy 140 (Felices 140), starring Maribel Verdú
  • Javier Ruiz Caldera’s Spy Time (Anacleto: Agente secreto), a big-budget adaptation of the popular Spanish comic strip character
  • The documentary Snacks, Bites of a Revolution, a look at the New Basque cuisine movement which so greatly influenced world culinary styles, part of the Lee Brian Schrager’s Culinary Cinema program
  • The world premiere of the short “The Lift” by Javier Polo, who previously presented his documentary Europe in 8 Bits to Miami audiences at the 2014 Festival

A seminar has also been confirmed:

  • “From Doodles to Pixels” presentation and screening with animators, in partnership with Centro Cultural Espanol (CCE), Accion Cultural Española (AC/E), and Miami Animation and Gaming International Complex (MAGIC) at MDC.

Several additional titles from Spain are expected to be confirmed for the Festival in time for the full program unveiling in January, once again affirming Miami International Film Festival’s status as the key portal in the United States for Spanish art and popular cinema.  Spanish programming at the Festival receives significant support from AC/E (Acción Cultural Española) of Madrid.

The 33rd annual Miami International Film Festival will take place March 4-13, 2016.  Advance ticket packages, plus tickets for the Opening Night Film and Party, are already on sale at or by calling 1-844-565-6433 (MIFF). For membership opportunities or more information, please email or call 305-237-FILM (3456).

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(Copyright 2015 by Hans Morgenstern. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.)


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