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Fernando Meirelles’ The Two Popes starring Anthony Hopkins and Jonathan Pryce
Fernando Meirelles’ The Two Popes starring Anthony Hopkins and Jonathan Pryce

Miami Film Festival GEMS returns October 10 to 13th, 2019, with Pedro Almodóvar’s Pain and Glory starring Antonio Banderas and Penélope Cruz opening the Festival, and Brazilian filmmaker Fernando Meirelles’ The Two Popes starring Anthony Hopkins and Jonathan Pryce selected as Centerpiece.

Five films in Miami Film Festival GEMS are the first selections of the season to compete for Festival’s top award, the $40,000 Knight MARIMBAS Award. The competition will be top-lined by Closing Night selection and recent Cannes Palme d’Or winner Parasite, from Korean filmmaker Bong Joon-ho, a piercing black comedy of social class divide.&

The additional four films announced in this competition are By the Grace of God (France, directed by François Ozon), Clemency (USA, directed by Chinonye Chukwu), Portrait of a Lady on Fire (France, directed by Céline Sciamma) and Staff Only (Spain, directed by Neus Ballús).

Three extraordinary passion projects will receive Spotlight screenings at GEMS, beginning with Kore-eda Hirokazu’s French-language The Truth, his first film outside of his native Japan, conceived by Kore-eda as a tribute to the great screen icon Catherine Deneuve. Miami Film Festival director Jaie Laplante dedicated the GEMS screening of The Truth to another Kore-eda inspiration, Chinese-American author Ken Liu, whose short story “Memories of My Mother” serves as a key thematic subplot in the film. Liu is additionally credited as an associate producer on The Truth. The GEMS screening of Kore-eda’s film will be preceded by David Gaddie’s 2017 short “Beautiful Dreamer”, an adaptation of the same Liu story featured in The Truth.

The “passion project” Spotlight screenings continue with Honey Boy, directed by Alma Har’el, written by and starring Shia LaBeouf, based on his own experiences as a child actor and early adult life coping with his divorced father’s mental health issues; and Motherless Brooklyn from Edward Norton, who wrote, directed and stars in the film, fulfilling a 20-year-drive to adapt Jonathan Lethem’s 1999 bestseller to the big screen.

Competing for the $10,000 Jordan Ressler First Feature Film Award will be French filmmaker Ladj Ly’s Les Misérables and American filmmaker Carlo Mirabella-Davis’ Swallow.

Competing for the Documentary Achievement Award is Alan Berliner’s Letter to the Editor, an epic ode to the free press as represented by personal archives of photographs culled from The New York Times over a 40-year period. The Festival is dedicating its GEMS screening of the film to Miami Herald investigative reporter Julie K. Brown, who recently received a George Polk Award for her 2018 series of articles, “Perversion of Justice”, on the Jeffrey Epstein case.

Competing for the Ibero-American Feature Film Award will be Spanish filmmaker Dani de la Orden’s drama Litus, featuring an all-star cast of Spanish actors including Quim Gutiérrez, Belén Cuesta, Miquel Fernández, Alex García (a Miami Film Festival favorite from his 2015 visit with the Audience Award-winning Kamikaze), Adrián Lastra, and Marta Nieto.

Two feel-good comedies that have been box office smashes in their home countries complete the balance of the GEMS 2019 line-up. Wayne Blair’s Top End Wedding, the top-grossing domestic film of the year in Australia, is a hilarious and touching story in the spirit of his 2012 global hit The Sapphires; and Taxi to Treasure Rock, a Spanish-Argentine production directed by Alejo Flah and starring Dani Rovira, is a road trip comedy that is one of the top four most popular domestic releases in Spain thus far in 2019.

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