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Pedro Almodóvar’s Parallel Mothers starring Penélope Cruz
Pedro Almodóvar’s Parallel Mothers starring Penélope Cruz

Miami Film Festival unveiled the line-up for the eighth annual edition of its acclaimed Miami Film Festival GEMS, expanding to seven days from its traditional four-day format. Legendary Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodóvar’s Parallel Mothers starring Penélope Cruz will open the Festival. King Richard, produced by and starring Will Smith, will be the Centerpiece screening, while Denmark’s Oscar submission shortlist candidate Flee will close the event. The festival will hold its screenings at MDC’s Tower Theater Miami from November 4-10.

“This year’s GEMS program demonstrates the ongoing vitality and vibrancy of cinema – we expanded the festival due to the increasing number of outstanding films that GEMS has attracted,” said Executive Director Jaie Laplante. “We are grateful to return to our home theater, Tower Theater Miami, and are excited to welcome patrons back to share the communal theater experience.”

Opening GEMS 2021 on November 4 is Parallel Mothers from acclaimed Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodóvar, whose Pain and Glory opened GEMS 2019, and who was awarded the Festival’s highest honor, Precious Gem – Master Award, at the 38th edition of the Festival earlier this year. Parallel Mothers was nominated for a Golden Lion for Best Film at the 2021 Venice Film Festival, where Penélope Cruz won for Best Actress.

The Centerpiece Screening will take place on November 6. King Richard (United States) is produced by and starring Will Smith in the true story of the hard-driving father of tennis superstars (and South Florida residents) Venus and Serena Williams. The film is directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green.

Raising early excitement for the Festival’s official opening will be Pablo Larraín’s critically revered Spencer (US/UK/Chile/Germany), which will be featured as the GEMS Preview Night on October 27. The drama stars Kristen Stewart (a front-runner for this year’s Best Actress Oscar) as Princess Diana, at the moment when she decides to leave her marriage to Prince Charles.

Closing the Festival on November 10 will be Flee (Denmark), the acclaimed animated documentary that won the Grand Jury Prize at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. Shortlisted for Denmark’s Oscar submission selection, this timely film about an Afghani émigré with a secret is directed by Jonas Poher Rasmussen.

GEMS 2021 will include the first three selections of the season competing for the Festival’s prestigious awards. Paris, 13th District (France), a drama directed by Jacques Audiard, will compete for the GEMS Festival’s top prize, the $25,000 Knight MARIMBAS Award, supported by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. This is a juried prize for a film that best exemplifies richness and resonance for cinema’s future. Audiard previously won the top Award at MFF in 2016 for Dheepan.

Competing for MFF’s Ibero-american Feature Film Award is Chilean filmmaker Claudia Huaiquimilla’s second feature, My Brothers Dream Awake. The film was nominated for the Golden Leopard at the 2021 Locarno Film Festival.

The first selection to compete in the $10,000 Knight Made in MIA Short Film Award is the world premiere of the short documentary “A Date, with History” (United States), an unexpected glimpse into the complex social history of Miami in 1955, directed by Gaspar González. “A Date, with History” reclaims a historical incident that occurred at the Historic Hampton House in 1955, and will be paired with a retrospective screening of Regina King’s adaptation of Kemp Powers’ One Night in Miami, which also reclaims a Hampton House historical night.

Special Presentations

7 Prisoners (Brazil), a drama spotlighting the plight of human trafficking, directed by Alexandre Moratto. Moratto is returning to MFF’s Official Selection, following his first feature Socrates winning MFF’s 2019 Jordan Ressler First Feature Award.

Belfast (United Kingdom/Ireland/United States), a drama set in Northern Ireland during the turbulent late-1960s, directed by Kenneth Branagh, winner of TIFF’s People’s Choice Award.

Dear Mr. Brody (United States), a documentary directed by Keith Maitland that tells the strange tale of Michael Brody Jr., a 21-year-old hippie millionaire who in 1970 promised to give away his $25 million inheritance in an effort to usher in a new era of world peace. This screening will take place in a special outdoor setting at Moxy South Beach.

Happening (France), a tense, gripping thriller about a student in 1960s France who seeks an abortion at a time when it was illegal, directed by Audrey Diwan. *Winner of the Golden Lion, top prize of the 2021 Venice Film Festival.*

A Hero (Iran/France), a drama/thriller about a man on leave from debtors’ prison, directed by Asghar Farhadi, winner of the Grand Prix at Cannes Film Festival.

Huda’s Salon (Palestine/Egypt/The Netherlands), a new drama about blackmail and double-agents in the Palestine occupied territory, from double-Oscar nominated filmmaker Hany Abu-Assad.

Julia (United States), a documentary spotlighting legendary cookbook author and television icon Julia Child, directed by Julie Cohen and Betsy West. The screening will be accompanied by a post-screening Julia-inspired dinner at Michelle Bernstein and Julio Cabrera’s popular restaurant Café La Trova.

Lingui, The Sacred Bonds (Chad/France/Germany/Belgium), the story of a woman in Chad navigating the severe legal and religious choice restrictions for her 15-year-old daughter’s unplanned pregnancy, directed by Mahamat-Saleh Haroun.

Mothering Sunday (United Kingdom), which tells the story of a maid coming to terms with her sexuality in post-World War I England, directed by Eva Husson.

The People Upstairs (Spain), a comedy about two couples exploring the complexities of modern-day relationships, directed by Cesc Gay, starring 2021 MFF Precious Gem Awardee Javier Cámara.

Red Rocket (United States), a comedy/drama that follows a washed-up porn star returning to his small Texas hometown, directed by Sean Baker.

A Tale of Love and Desire (France), a romantic drama about an Algerian-French teenager who falls in love with a young Tunisian girl, directed by Leyla Bouzid.

The Worst Person in the World (Norway/France), a comedy/drama on the travails of a young woman navigating her love life and career path, directed by Joachim Trier, winner of the Best Actress award at Cannes for Renate Reinsve.

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