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When Liberty Burns
When Liberty Burns

When Liberty Burns, an incisive look at Miami’s infamous 1980 race riots in Liberty City stemming from the fatal police beating of Arthur McDuffie, directed by Dudley Alexis, won the $30,000 Knight Made in MIA Feature Film Award, the most anticipated prize of the 37th edition of Miami Film Festival.

The 2020 Festival which opened March 6 was forced to close prematurely on March 12 due to public health concerns due to the coronavirus pandemic.

La Llorona, directed by Jayro Bustamante won the $40,000 Knight MARIMBAS Award, given to the film that best exemplifies richness and resonance for cinema’s future, named for the marimba, a variation of the xylophone that produces a deeper, richer and more resonant tone. “La Llorona’s unique combination of genres, history and folklore creates a compelling cinematic narrative that encompasses the spirit of the Knight MARIMBAS Award,” said jury members Álvar Carretero de la Fuente, Rupert Lloyd and Elena Manrique.

The Festival’s Toyota Narrative Feature Film Audience Award goes to 90 Minutes, a portrait of contemporary Honduras through the lens of its societal obsession with soccer, directed by Aeden O’Connor Agurcia, and the newly-created Toyota Documentary Feature Film Audience Award went to Magnolia Pictures’ The Fight, depicting the struggles of a quartet of ACLU lawyers as they work on hot-button issues of our times, directed by Josh Kriegman, Elyse Steinberg and Eli Despres.

“T”, directed by Keisha Rae Witherspoon won the $10,000 Knight Made in MIA Short Film Award. Honorable mentions were made to Carmen Pelaez’s “Mango Season” and Yara Travieso’s “Third Trinity”.

The $10,000 HBO Ibero-American Feature Film Award went to Los Lobos directed by Samuel Kishi. “Beyond being a timely immigration story from Mexico that the world needs to see, Los Lobos is the intimate journey of a Mother taking her two young sons to find a ‘better life’. As Lucia goes to work each day, what could have been a claustrophobic and cliché film about her two young boys left alone in the apartment is anything but. From the cassette recorder that plays the ‘House Rules’ to the captivating performances elicited from the adorable child actors, writer/director Samuel Kishi Leopo draws us in to this very private (semiautobiographical) story. Martha Reyes Arias is beautifully unassuming as Lucia – she pays her way, cleans a space for her boys, finds patience and love for them each night when she returns from work, and ultimately a de facto family. We are struck by the intimacy, the efficiency of execution, the subtle choices and of course the hopeful, yet honest ending,” said jurors Maxine Bailey, Agustina Chirainoand HBO VP Leslie Cohen of the film, ;which received its North American Premiere at the Festival.

The $10,000 Jordan Ressler First Feature Award went to Chilean filmmaker Gonzalo Maza for his directorial debut, This is Cristina (Ella es Cristina).

The$5,000 HBO Ibero-American Short Film Award was won by Spain’s Ingride Santos for “Beef”, and four runner-up prizes of $1,250 each went to”Adrift”, “La Deuda”, “La Gloria” and “Marisol”.

The Zeno Mountain Award, a $5,000 cash prize funded by Miami-based Fringe Partners, seeking to reward a film of any length or genre in the Festival’s Official Selection which helps break down barriers to our understanding of people living with disabilities, went to Netflix and Higher Ground’s Crip Camp, directed by Nicole Newnham and Jim LeBrecht. Crip Camp can be streamed on Netflix beginning March 25.

The $5,000 Alacran Music in Film Award for the Best Score in the Festival went to Nicolas Jaar for Pablo Larrain’s Ema.

The Rene Rodriguez Critics Award, named for Miami Herald writer Rene Rodriguez, went to Yowan Lewis and Calvin Thomas’s White Lie from Canada. The film was selected by a poll of all film critics covering the 2020 Festival. Another Canadian film, “Pick”, directed by Alicia Harris, is the winner of the Miami Film Festival Short Film Award.

“Endure The Suck”, ;a documentary about two disabled military veterans who find new challenges in the sport of sailing, directed by Isaac Mead-Long, won the Toyota Short Film Audience Award, from the 32 short films that were able to screen prior to the Festival’s premature closure.

The Alacran Music in Film Award is the third Festival prize for Ema. Presented earlier in the Festival, the Oolite Arts Miami Film Festival Poster Design Award went to Daniel González Sánchez of Buena Suerte studio in Santiago, Chile for his design for Ema. This year’s winner was chosen selected by illustrator and movie poster art designer Akiko Stehrenberger. Honorable mentions for additional outstanding poster designs went to the short films “Wax Paul Now”and “Buddy Boca”. Ema also won the Oolite Arts Miami Film Festival Trailer Award, which went to Hands Up Paris for their trailer for the film. The selection was made by the 2019 winner of the award, Los Angeles-based editor Joe Hackman. Honorable mentions for additional outstanding trailers went to This is Cristina and Instinct and Miami-based editor Rodrigo Alfonso for his trailer for “Being”.

Also presented earlier in the Festival, the Lynn and Louis Wolfson II Family Foundation CinemaSlam Competition 2019 awarded $7,500 to “Celestial” by Bruklyn Miller from the New York Film Academy, Miami Beach for Best Film. Four runner-ups received $5,000 each: Sam Wilder’s “Caretaker” (University of Miami), Megan Tran’s“Dessert”(New World School of the Arts), Ashley De Grandy’s “Metanoia” (Miami Dade College), and Cathleen Dean’s “Wade in the Water: Drowning in Racism” (University of Miami). Eight work-in-progress projects that plan to make use of archival material from the Lynn and Louis Wolfson II Media Center to support their content were awarded grants of $1,875 each toward the completion of their projects.

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