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Miami International Film Festival (MIFF) announced a new category for its upcoming 29th edition, March 2 -11, 2012 –  the  Lexus Ibero-American Opera Prima Competition.

In this newly created category, six films from first-time feature filmmakers from Spain, Portugal and/or Latin America will compete for a $5,000 USD cash prize.

The finalists for the competition were selected by MIFF programmers from films already submitted to the 2012 Festival.

2012 MIFF Lexus Ibero-American Opera Prima Competition films:

Las Acacias (Argentina/Spain, directed by Pablo Giorgelli): Already a winner of major prizes at this year’s Cannes Film Festival (Camera d’Or for Best First Film) and the Latin Horizons prize at the San Sebastian Film Festival, Giorgelli’s road movie unfolds along the highway linking Asunción to Buenos Aires, which trucker Rubén is accustomed to traveling solo. This time, however, he’s got a passenger, Jacinta, and a road full of revelations on the horizon.  East Coast Premiere

Expiration Date (Fecha de caducidad) (Mexico, directed by Kenya Márquez): After the tragic loss of her son, Ramona (Ana Ofelia Murguía) becomes convinced local handyman Genaro (Damián Alcázar) is responsible for the death. Becoming increasingly obsessed and paranoid, she enlists the help of neighbor to avenge his death. East Coast Premiere

Vaquero (Argentina, directed by Juan Minujín): Actor-turned-filmmaker Minujín’s profoundly revealing film follows mid-level Buenos Aires actor Julian Lamaz on a darkly comic quest for a leading role in a Hollywood movie. Through an amusing voice-over, the actor endures endless patronizing advice from fellow actors, casting agents and even his family. Minujín’s experience in the Buenos Aires film and theatre community gives the narrative multiple layers of self-referential resonance. U.S. Premiere

The Student (El estudiante) (Argentina, directed by Santiago Mitre): College student Roque (Esteban Lamothe) navigates the murky world of university politics, while seducing assistant professor and activist (Romina Paula), in Santiago Mitre’s briskly paced debut. A microcosm for the world at large, the film brilliantly exposes the backroom dealings and negotiations of student politics. Florida Premiere

Speechless (Sin palabras) (Colombia, directed by Ana Sofía Osorio Ruiz and Diego Bustamante): After helping a disoriented Chinese immigrant find her way, Raul (Javier Ortíz) can’t help but fall slowly in love with the exotic beauty. Osorio Ruiz and Bustamante prove the language of the heart is the most universal of all in this touching romance.  International Premiere

Distancia (Guatemala, directed by Sergio Ramírez): Tomás Choc travels 150 kilometers to be reunited with his only daughter, kidnapped 20 years ago during the Guatemalan civil war. In order to keep his memories of her alive, Tomas has kept a journal of his daily struggles, which he plans to give her when they meet in Ramirez’s heart wrenching drama. U.S. Premiere

Additionally, the Festival confirms the return of the University of Miami Grand Jury Award for Best Short Film. The established category showcases short films from developing international directors competing for a $2,500 cash prize. The 2011 winner in this category was Chilean short film Blokes (Blockes) by Marialy Rivas.

Some of the short films already confirmed to compete in MIFF 2012 include:

The Beach Chronicles (USA, directed by Kevin Sharpley) – World premiere
Catharis (France, directed by Cédric Prévost) – US premiere
Cell Phone Zombies (Cel Zombies) (Ecuador, directed by Jorge Luis Miranda) – World premiere
The Dancer (USA, directed by Seth Stark) – Florida premiere
Grandmothers (Abuelas) (United Kingdom, directed by Afarin Eghbal) – Florida premiere
Immune (USA, directed by Andrew Lathorp) – Florida premiere
Shift (USA, directed by Juan Carlos Zaldívar) – World premiere
The Trip (A Viagem) (Portugal/USA, directed by Simao Cayatte) – Florida premiere

The above titles are in addition to the 10 film titles previously announced by MIFF  for the Knight Ibero-American Competition.   Approximately 100 films from 40 countries are anticipated for the annual 10-day event.

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