Mucho Mucho Amor
Mucho Mucho Amor

The Burnt Orange Heresy, the fifth screen adaptation of the works of late Miami noir novelist Charles Willeford, starring Mick Jagger, Donald Sutherland, Elizabeth Debicki and Claes Bang, will open the 37th edition of Miami Dade College (MDC)’s acclaimed Miami Film Festival, on Friday, March 6 at downtown Miami’s historic Olympia Theater.

Mucho Mucho Amor, the Sundance-debuting documentary recently acquired by Netflix for worldwide rights, about the life and vision of legendary Puerto Rican astrologer Walter Mercado, will close the Festival on Awards Night on Saturday, March 14 at the Olympia. Filmmakers Cristina Costantini and Miami native Kareem Tabsch will be in attendance to present the film in person. The film includes interviews with Lin-Manuel Miranda and Eugenio Derbez and many others. The film, celebrates Mercado’s long history with Miami, and History Miami Museum’s recent 2019 exhibition honoring Mercado’s 50-year legacy.

In all, the Festival will present more than 125 feature narratives, documentaries and short films of all genres, from 30 different countries. The Festival runs from March 6 to 15.

Academy Award-nominated actress Amy Ryan will receive the Festival’s Precious Gem Award on Monday, March 9th at the historic Tower Theater Miami. Ryan will receive the honor as the Festival screens the Florida premiere of her tour-de-force lead performance in Lost Girls, directed by Liz Garbus. Garbus, a two-time Academy Award nominated documentarian, makes her narrative feature debut with Lost Girls, and will take part in a featured Marquee conversation on her career and new direction in narrative filmmaking.

Spain’s Goya-winning actress Emma Suárez will receive a Career Achievement Tribute, and the Festival’s Precious Gem Award on Thursday, March 12th at the Silverspot Cinemas in downtown Miami. Suárez will receive the Festival tribute prior to the screening of the US premiere of her new film Window to the Sea (Una ventana al mar), and participate in an On-Stage Conversation with the film’s director, Miguel Ángel Jiménez. Suárez will also appear onscreen at the Festival in another new film, The Invisible (Invisibles), by Gracia Querejeta.


Major highlights of the CINEDWNTWN series include:

The Opening Night Film of the Festival’s $40,000 Knight MARIMBAS Award competition, and the Festival’s kick-off Marquee Series evening, will be The Weasels Tale (El cuento de las comadrejas), the new comedy from Argentina’s acclaimed Juan José Campanella (Oscar-winner for The Secret in Their Eyes in 2010).

The Florida premiere of Jonathan Jakubowicz’s Resistance, a stirring drama of world-famous mime Marcel Marceau in his youth as an aspiring Jewish actor who joined the French Resistance during World War II to save the lives of thousands of children orphaned at the hands of the Nazis. Oscar-nominated actor Jesse Eisenberg plays Marceau, and the cast also includes Ed Harris and Edgar Ramirez, who also starred in Jakubowicz’s Hands of Stone. The film will compete for the Knight MARIMBAS Award.

The World Premiere of Reefa, a made-in-Miami film by Jessica Kavana Dornbush, that tells the true story of the 2013 tragic police taser death of 18-year-old graffiti artist Israel “Reefa” Hernandez in Miami Beach. Reefa will also compete for theKnight Made in MIA Feature Film Award and the Knight MARIMBAS Award. Puerto Rican actor Tyler Dean Flores, destined for big things ahead, plays Reefa in a star-making performance.

The Florida premiere of Us Kids, Kim A Snyder’s documentary about the creation and development of the March For Our Lives movement, spearheaded by students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, following the 2018 mass shooting that claimed 17 lives at the Parkland, Broward County high school.

Knight Made in MIA Award

This year, 12 feature-length films – nine of them World Premieres, including Reefa – that feature a substantial portion of their content (story, setting and actual filming location) in South Florida, from West Palm Beach to the Florida Keys, and that most universally demonstrates a common ground of pride, emotion, and faith for the South Florida community, will compete for the $30,000 cash prize.

The Opening Film of the Knight Made in MIA Feature Film Award competition will be the World Premiere of When Liberty Burns, directed by Dudley Alexis, a documentary that examines the 40th anniversary of the Arthur McDuffie race riots that took place in Miami in 1980, and their current context in Miami’s contemporary consciousness. A panel will take place after the World Premiere screening, moderated by Nadege Green of WLRN.

Additional films selected for the competition include:

Chateau Vato, directed by Tom Musca. *WORLD PREMIERE. A skilled but down-on-his-luck gardener survives hand-to-hand combat with rival landscaping crews before he stumbles upon a glorious estate that hasn’t been landscaped in months. Welcome to the starting point of Gustavo Alvarez’s adventure, where poverty and hardship fail to drive his family apart; rather, the embrace of the good life does. Before this improbable journey is over, the actual cause of death of the estate’s owner will unearth mysteries that pit our gardener’s strong sense of ethics against the comfort and well-being of his family. Starring Paul Rodriguez and Elpidia Carillo.

The Definition of Insanity, directed by Gabriel London. *WORLD PREMIERE. A Miami-Dade judge’s novel approach to solving the mental health crisis in his county could be the model to solve the mental health crisis in America. Shocked by how people with mental illness were treated in Miami-Dade’s jails, today Judge Steve Leifman works with a team of dedicated public servants as well as former adversaries in the criminal justice system to help people with mental illness navigate from lives of tragedy to possibility. Narrated by Rob Reiner. Documentary.

The Last Rafter, directed by Carlos Betancourt and Oscar Ernesto Ortega. *WORLD PREMIERE. After risking his life crossing the Florida Straits on a raft, a young Cuban searches Miami for his long-absent father. When a political shift makes him America’s first Cuban undocumented immigrant, he must battle the new and bigger fear of deportation, while trying to find where he really belongs. Starring Hector Medina.

List(e)n, directed by Juliana Tafur. People with opposing viewpoints on some of our most divisive national issues – guns, abortion and immigration — are invited to dialogue with each other. Personal lives deeply intertwine with the topics, including one of the survivors of the Parkland, FL school shooting. As the exchanges unfold, and the participants take the time to get to know each other, moments of unexpected emotional connection and understanding arise. Documentary.

Marcus, directed by J.R. Poli. *WORLD PREMIERE. Marcus fights an all too familiar combat with mental illness. For years, he has lived alone battling feelings of self doubt and hopelessness. When he discovers his estranged daughter’s pregnancy, he leaves his current life behind and sets out to find her, hoping to reconcile and restore purpose in his life. But a few things stand in his way – old friends who are bitter about his
departure, a daughter who wants nothing to do with him and most of all, himself. Starring Owen Miller.

Michael Tilson Thomas: Where Now Is, directed by Susan Froemke and Kirk Simon. *WORLD PREMIERE. In 1970, Michael Tilson Thomas (MTT) was considered the great young hope of American classical music. Becoming a star overnight when he stepped in mid-concert for the ailing Boston Symphony conductor, the expectations for him were limitless. But free-spirited MTT went his own way and stretched the boundaries of classical music. Documentary.

Paper Children, directed by Alexandra Codina. *WORLD PREMIERE. Far from the horrors at the US border, one family seeks safety and heals from the past, while bearing the weight of an uncertain future. PAPER CHILDREN goes beyond the headlines to the subtle, intimate reality of four siblings who fled gang violence in Honduras to face the terrifying, labyrinth-like US asylum process. The film begins where most immigrant stories hope to end—with a family who has been reunited—but for how long remains to be seen. Documentary.

They Call Me Dr. Miami (Canada), directed by Jean-Simon Chartier. *WORLD PREMIERE. Dr. Miami – a.k.a. Michael Salzhauer – is the most famous surgeon in America. Millions of loyal followers from around the world tune in daily as he live streams graphic plastic surgery procedures on social media – all with the enthusiastic consent of his self-proclaimed “beauty warrior” patients. Celebrated for his outrageous personality in hip hop culture and criticized by the professional surgery establishment, in his private life, Salzhauer is a devoted family man and Orthodox Jew who observes the Sabbath. Documentary.

Marcus and The Last Rafter will additionally compete for the $10,000 Jordan Ressler First Feature Award. Mucho Mucho Amor, Us Kids, When Liberty Burns, List(e)n, Michael Tilson Thomas: Where Now Is, Paper Children and They Call Me Dr. Miami will additionally compete for the Festival’s Documentary Achievement Award. The Definition of Insanity will additionally compete for the Documentary Achievement Award and the $5,000 Zeno Mountain Award, presented by Fringe Partners.

Knight MARIMBAS Award

Reefa, in addition to The Weasels Tale and Resistance, will also compete for the Festival’s Knight MARIMBAS Award, an international competition that awards $40,000 to a new narrative feature film that best exemplifies richness and resonance for cinema’s future.

The films selected for this year’s Knight MARIMBAS Award competition include the following major premieres:

Detention (Taiwan, directed by John Hsu). *NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE. Adapted by a renowned VR content-maker from the hugely international popular video game, mixing genre, horror, melodrama, and political thriller, DETENTION investigates a realm of spirits, ghosts and tragic events in Taiwan’s White Terror era in the 1960s. Since its release on September 2019 in Taiwan, the film has surpassed 1 million admissions; current box office figures are over US$8.6 million.

Dolly Kitty and Those Twinkling Stars (India, directed by Alankrita Shrivastava). *NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE. Alankrita Shirvastava made worldwide headlines in 2017 when the India’s Central Board of Film Certification banned her film LIPSTICK UNDER MY BURKA from being released in India. Shirvastava challenged the Board and ultimately won her case. DOLLY KITTY AND THOSE TWINKLING STARS is her follow-up. LIPSTICK UNDER MY BURKA also had its North American premiere at Miami Film Festival, to wild audience appreciation.

Eduardo and Monica (Brazil, directed by René Sampaio). *WORLD PREMIERE. René Sampaio’s BRAZILIAN WESTERN, based on an epic rock song “Faroeste Cabolco”, was a massive box office hit in Brazil in 2013, and won 7 Brazilian Academy Awards, including Best Picture. His follow-up adapts another famous Brazilian power ballad, in a sweeping romance starring Alice Braja.

The Invisible (Spain, directed by Gracia Querejeta). *INTERNATIONAL PREMIERE. Gracia Querejeta has twice been nominated for Best Director at Spain’s Goya (Academy) Awards. Her latest film stars Emma Suarez and Natalia Poza, whose characters vent, bond and support each other over society’s shameful tendency to treat women over the age of 50 as “invisible” in the working world.

Out in the Open (Spain, directed by Benito Zambrano). *NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE. Winner of 2 Goya (Spain Academy) Awards, including Best Adapted Screenplay, the new film from Benito Zambrano, a popular figure in Miami Film Festival’s official selections of previous years, features a towering performance by Luis Tosar, among the best of his career.

Overnight (Argentina/Chile, directed by Manuel Ferrari). *INTERNATIONAL PREMIERE. A clever satire of Argentine neurosis and Chilean malfunction, OVERNIGHT world premiered at the Mar de Plata Film Festival in Argentina in November 2019.

White Lie (Canada, directed by Calvin Thomas and Yohan Lewis).*US PREMIERE. A shocking account of the false narratives that are all too easily built, and then just as easily unraveled, in our digital social new world order. The fourth feature by Canadians Calvin Thomas and Yohan Lewis a significant international breakthrough.

Additional films selected to compete for the 2020 Knight MARIMBAS Award are:

  • Aadhaar (India, directed by Suman Ghosh).
  • Alelí (Uruguay/Argentina, directed by Leticia Jorge Romero).
  • And the Birds Rained Down (Canada, directed by Louise Archambault).
  • Arab Blues (Tunisia/France, directed by Manele Labidi).
  • Ema (Chile, directed by Pablo Larrain). *Star Marina di Girolamo is one of Variety’s 10 Latinxs To Watch for 2020.
  • High Tide (Argentina, directed by Veronica Chen).
  • La Llorona (Guatemala/France, directed by Jayro Bustamante). *FRIDAY THE 13tH SPECIAL PRESENTATION
  • Lara (Germany, directed by Jan Ole Gerster).
  • Only the Animals (France/Germany, directed by Dominik Moll).
  • Pacified (Brazil, directed by Paxton Winters).
  • Proxima (France, directed by Alice Wincour).
  • The Sleepwalkers (Argentina/Uruguay, directed by Paula Hernandez).
  • Synchronic (USA, directed by Aaron Moorhead and Justin Benson).
  • While at War (Spain, directed by Alejandro Amenábar).

These films join the previously announced Knight MARIMBAS Award nominees from the Festival’s fall GEMS program: By the Grace of God (France, François Ozon), Clemency (USA, Chinonye Chukwiu), Parasite (South Korea, Bong Joon-Ho), Portrait of a Lady on Fire (Celine Sciamma, France) and Staff Only (Spain, Neus Ballus). Eduardo and Monica, High Tide, The Invisible, Out in the Open and Overnight will additionally compete in the HBO Ibero-american Feature Film Award competition.

Knight Made in MIA Short Film Award

  • “Alexa Off”, directed by Christopher Irarrazabl.
  • “Being”, directed by Cathleen Deen.
  • “Buddy Boca”, directed by Maya Margolina.
  • “Carolina”, directed by Jokes Yanes.
  • “Don’t Let It In”, directed by Jessica Henric.
  • “Fairchild”, directed by Kali Kahn.
  • “God Is Not To Blame”, directed by Julio Mendez.
  • “In a Lifetime”, directed by Hector Silva Nuñez.
  • “Mango Season”, directed by Carmen Pelaez.
  • “T”, directed by Keisha Rae Witherspoon.
  • “Third Trinity”, directed by Yara Travieso.
  • “The Woman Under The Tree”, directed by Karishma Kohli.
  • “Wound Riders”, directed by Angel Barroeta.

HBO Ibero-American Feature Film Award

In addition to Eduardo and Monica, High Tide, The Invisible, Out in the Open and Overnight, the films selected for the Feature Film Award include:

  • Heroic Losers (Argentina/Spain, directed by Sebastián Borensztein).
  • I Am Not Your Mommy (Argentina, directed by Marcos Carnevale). *USA PREMIERE
  • The Innocence (Spain, directed by Lucia Alemany).
  • Lina from Lima (Chile/Argentina/Peru, directed by María Paz Gonzalez).
  • Los Lobos (Mexico/USA, directed by Samuel Kishi). *NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE
  • A Mother (Colombia/Argentina, directed by Diogenes Cuevas). *NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE
  • One For All (Spain, directed by David Ilundain). *WORLD PREMIERE
  • Our Mothers (Guatemala/Belgium/France/Luxembourg/The Netherlands, directed by César Diaz).
  • Rabbit (Venezuela/Cuba/USA, directed by Carla Forte). *WORLD PREMIERE
  • This is Cristina (Chile, directed by Gonzalo Maza). *USA PREMIERE
  • Tu Me Manques (Bolivia, directed by Rodrigo Bellot).
  • Window to the Sea (Spain/Greece, directed by strong>Miguel Ángel Jiménez). *USA PREMIERE
  • Workforce (Mexico, directed by David Zonana). *Cinematographer Carolina Costa named as one of Variety’s 10 Latinxs To Watch for 2020.

These films join the previously announced HBO Ibero-American Feature Film Award nominee from the Festival’s fall GEMS program: Litus (Spain, Dani de la Orden). The Innocence, Lina from Lima, A Mother, Our Mothers, This is Cristina and Workforce will additionally compete for the $10,000 Jordan Ressler First Feature Award; A Mother and One For All will additionally compete for the Festival’s $5,000 Zeno Mountain Award; and Gonzalo Maza will be honored as one of Variety’s 10 Latinxs To Watch for 2020 at the Festival.

HBO Ibero-American Short Film Award competition

  • “Adrift” (Dominican Republic, directed by Paula Cury Melo).
  • “Beef” (Spain, directed by Ingride Santos).
  • “La Deuda” (Mexico/USA, directed by Jeff Prahl).
  • “La gloria” (USA, directed by Mary Evangelista).
  • “Marisol” (Spain, directed by Zoë Salicrup Junco).

Jordan Ressler First Feature Award

In addition to J.R. Poli for Marcus, Carlos Betancourt and Oscar Ernesto Ortega for The Last Rafter, Lucia Alemany for The Innocence, ;María Paz Gonzalez for Lina from Lima, Diogenes Cuevas for A Mother, César Diaz for Our Mothers, Gonzalo Maza for This is Cristina, and David Zonana for Workforce, the filmmakers selected for the competition include:

  • Aeden O’Connor Aguircia for 90 Minutes (Honduras). *USA PREMIERE
  • Bill Crossland for Catching Up (USA).
  • Melanie Charbonneau for Fabulous (Canada). *USA PREMIERE
  • Ana Garcia Blaya for The Good Intentions (Argentina).
  • Santiago Requejo for Grandpas (Spain). *USA PREMIERE
  • Halina Reijn for Instinct (The Netherlands).
  • Monika Jordan-Mlodzianowska for Iron Bridge (Poland).
  • Martin Busker for Zoro’s Solo (Germany).

These films join the previously announced Jordan Ressler First Feature Award nominees from the Festival’s fall GEMS program: Les Misérables (France, Ladj Ly) and Swallow (USA, Carlo Mirabella-Davis). A Mother and Catching Up will additionally compete for the Festival’s $5,000 Zeno Mountain Award.

Premiere Documentary Spotlight

  • Be Water (USA, directed by Bao Nguyen).
  • Boys State (USA, directed by Jesse Moss and Amanda McBaine).
  • Crip Camp (USA, directed by Nicole Newnham and Jim LeBrecht).
  • The Fight (USA, directed by Josh Kriegman, Elyse Steinberg and Eli Despres).
  • The Mole Agent (Chile, directed by Maite Alberdi).
  • Once Upon a Time in Venezuela (Venezuela/Austria/United Kingdom/Brazil, directed by Anabel Rodríguez Ríos).
  • Some Kind of Heaven (USA, directed by Lance Oppenheim).
  • Time (USA, directed by Garrett Bradley).
  • Welcome to Chechnya ;(USA, directed by David France).

These films will be joined in competing for the audience-voted Documentary Achievement Award by Mucho Mucho Amor, Us Kids, When Liberty Burns, The Definition of Insanity, List(e)n, Michael Tilson Thomas: Where Now Is, Paper Children, They Call Me Dr. Miami and additional films including:

  • Bakosó: AfroBeats of Cuba (USA, directed by Eli Jacobs-Fantauzzi). *REEL MUSIC PRESENTATION
  • Free Color (USA/Venezuela/France, directed by Alberto Arvelo).
  • Golden Age (Switzerland, directed by Beat Oswald and ;Samuel Weniger).
  • In a Whisper (Cuba/Spain/France/Switzerland, directed by Patricia Pérez Fernandez and Heidi Hassan).
  • Juan (Venezuela, directed by Adrian Geyer).
  • Letters to Eloisa (USA, directed by Adriana Bosch). *WORLD PREMIERE
  • Lifeline: Clyfford Still* (USA, directed by Dennis Scholl). *Presented as a collaboration between Perez Art Museum Miami (PAMM) and Miami Film Festival.
  • Los Últimos Frikis (USA/Cuba, directed by Nicolas Brennan). *REEL MUSIC PRESENTATION
  • Maurice Hines: Bring Them Back (USA, directed by John Caluccio).
  • Revolution Rent (USA, directed by Andy Señor Jr).
  • River City Drumbeat (USA, directed by Marlon Johnson and Anne Flatté).
  • Siudy Between Worlds (USA, directed by Pablo Croce).

These films join the previously announced Documentary Achievement Award nominee from the Festival’s fall GEMS program: Letter to the Editor (USA, Alan Berliner).

Crip Camp and The Definition of Insanity join A Mother, One For All and Catching Up in competing for the Festival’s $5,000 Zeno Mountain Award presented by Fringe Partners, a group of films which celebrate the diversity of abilities and disabilities. The award seeks to reward the film which helps break down barriers to our understanding of people living with disabilities. An additional film included in this category is “Endure The Suck” (USA, directed by Isaac Mead-Long).

Cinema 360

Special Presentations screening out-of-competition in the Festival’s Cinema 360 program include:

  • Charm City Kings (USA, directed by Angel Manuel Soto).
  • Military Wives (UK, directed by Peter Cattaneo).
  • My Little One (Switzerland, directed by Frederic Choffat and Julie Gilbert).
  • The Personal History of David Copperfield (UK, directed by Armando Ianucci).
  • Spinster (Canada, directed by Andrea Dorfman). *INTERNATIONAL PREMIERE
  • Team Marco, A New Family Film (USA, directed by Julio Vincent Gambuto).

Variety’s 10 Latinxs To Watch

  • Melissa Barrera, actor (Vida, In The Heights).
  • Angel Bismark Curiel, actor (Pose, Critical Thinking, Latin History for Morons).
  • Julissa Calderon, actress (Gentefied).
  • Chesca, artist/singer/dancer.
  • Carolina Costa, cinematographer (Workforce, Hala, Wander Darkly).
  • Marina di Girolamo, actress (Ema).
  • Gonzalo Maza, writer/director (This is Cristina, A Fantastic Woman).
  • Cesar Mazariegos, writer/director (High & Mighty, The Simpsons).
  • Camila Mendes, actress (Palm Springs, Riverdale).
  • Tainy, music producer (Bad Bunny’s “X 100pre”).

Short Film Award Competition

  • “{Black Title Here}” (USA, directed by Sev DeMy).
  • “Agua ‘e Panty” (Dominican Republic, directed by Astrid Perez Duran).
  • “Alberto” (Cuba, directed by Raul Prado).
  • “The Artisan” (Cuba, directed by Adrian Cardenas).
  • “Conspiracy Cruise” (USA/Canada, directed by Brad Abrahams).
  • “The Dawn” (USA, directed by N.P. Novak).
  • “Flower Punk” (USA, directed by Alison Klayman).
  • “Grab My Hand: A Letter to My Dad” (USA, directed by Camrus Johnson).
  • “Kitty’s Naughty Knickers” (Canada, directed by Caitlyn Sponheimer).
  • “Knocking Down The Fences” (USA, directed by Meg Shutzer).
  • “Pick” (Canada, directed by Alicia Harris).
  • “Princess Cut” (USA, directed by Elaine del Valle).
  • “Push the Point” (USA, directed by Bryan Burton).
  • “Sororal” (France, directed by Frederic Even and Louise Mercadier).
  • “Still” (Chile, directed by Constanza Majluf).
  • “Valerio’s Day Out” (USA, directed by Michael Arcos).
  • “Wax Paul Now” (USA, directed by Val Bodurtha, Rebecca Shaw and Sophie Mann).
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