Next week, Miami Dade College’s Miami Film Festival will kick off its annual weekend-long mini film festival GEMS (Miami Film Festival’s GEMS announces this year’s titles). In this special episode of “The Independent Ethos Radio hour,” we have our first live guest. Miami Film Festival Executive Director and Director of Programming Jaie Laplante joined us at Jolt Radio’s studio. Besides our usual film recommendations and indie music, I spoke to Laplante about several films that will have their local premieres in Miami during GEMS.
This writer has already had a chance to preview some of these films, and reviews will be coming in Miami New Times shortly (Update: the reviews are live: What to See and What to Skip at Miami Film Festival Gems 2019). It bears mentioning, but of the four films for the festival I have so far seen, the best was one I haven’t reviewed. Let this space serve to note that after placing Jean Luc Godard’s latest film essay at the top of my Best of 2019 list (Best movies of 2019 – first half) at the start of the year, the French filmmaking legend’s movie has been unseated by a new French Filmmaker: Céline Sciamma.
Portrait of a Lady on Fire stands as the most beautiful film I’ve seen this year in its patient unfolding of narrative. It doubles as cinematic foreplay for the passionate connection between two unlikely lovers, an artist (Noémie Merlant) assigned to paint the wedding portrait of her subject (Adèle Haenel) in 18th Century France. It’s a film of intense feeling and heavy regard via the feminine gaze and absolutely touching about the notions of loving another person. The two women connect via seeing and being seen, a form of transference set up via a job with a rather enabling quirk: the subject is not to know her portrait is being painted. So the women spend time taking walks by the seashore of Brittany, building toward a love that transcends the taboos of the era and firmly rooted in femininity. Get your ticket here: www.squadup.com/events/portrait-of-a-lady-on-fire.
That was an update to this podcast, which we recorded before I was invited to the film previews for the purpose of the reviews in Miami New Times. You can play the full show via this link or below:
Full disclosure, I was contracted to select playlists for each day of the festival to play in the lobby of the Tower Theater between screenings, inspired by what Laplante heard during the second half of the show, which included songs by Big Bliss, Cate Le Bon and Whyte Horses. I hope you like the music. Any feedback is welcome, except, please, “Why didn’t you include this song or that musician?” Respect the curation process driven by the independent ethos. Thank you.
Miami Film Festival GEMS happens from Oct. 10 – 13 at the Tower Theater in Miami. For more information on the program of this year’s films, visit this link.