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Freda directed by Géssica Généus - 39th Miami Film Festival Award Winners
Freda directed by Géssica Généus

Set in Haiti, the family drama film Freda, directed by Géssica Généus, won the $25,000 Knight MARIMBAS Award, at the 39th edition of Miami Dade College’s (MDC) acclaimed Miami Film Festival. The jury said, “this film resonated with all of us for its strong, female-centered narrative, and its exceptional performances from emerging actors. We couldn’t stop thinking about this world and these characters, and we appreciated being immersed in a place that we don’t often see onscreen – portrayed in such a realistic, but tender way.”

The jury also gave special recognition to actor Haztin Navarrete from The Box and actress Mari Oliveira from Medusa saying, “for two magnetic performances that we couldn’t take our eyes off.”

“You Can Always Come Home,” directed by Juan Luis Matos won the $30,000 first prize for the Knight Made in MIA Film Award; second prize ($15,000) went to “In Beauty It Is Unfinished,” directed by Greko Sklavounos; and third prize ($10,000) went to “Un Pequeño Corte,” directed by Marianna Serrano. The Knight Made in MIA Film Award is given to three films that have a substantial portion of their content in South Florida and that best utilize their story and theme for universal resonance.

The family drama You Resemble Me, directed by Dina Amer, garnered the $10,000 Jordan Ressler First Feature Award. The jury said in a statement, “we chose the film for its bold depiction of fragmented identity and social inequality through its masterful weaving of styles. Part intimate character study, part topical drama and part documentary, this fearless filmmaker, a former journalist who reported on the real life events that inspired the film, take a personal approach that is at once earnest and troubling, moving and provocative. The Jordan Ressler First Feature Award goes to Dina Amer for You Resemble Me.”

The drama Carajita, about class and racial issues in Latin America and the Caribbean, took home the $10,000 HBO Ibero-American Feature Film Award. The annual prize is given to the best nominated U.S. Hispanic or Ibero-American narrative feature film, and is awarded to the lead producer or production company.

Set during the era of China’s Cultural Revolution, the deeply moving war drama One Second won the Rene Rodriguez Critics Award. The film, screened as a Special Presentation, is directed by Chinese filmmaker Zhang Yimou, a three-time Oscar nominee for Best Foreign Language Film.

Felipe Perez Santiago, composer of Amalgama, earned the Alacran Music in Film Award highlighting the power of music and film and celebrates the role of the film composer. Art of Light (Composer) Award honoree Cristobal Tapia de Veer selected the winner.

The short film category is toplined by the $10,000 WarnerMedia OneFifty Latino Short Film Award, which bestows $5,000 upon the winner and $1,250 each to four runners-up. The top prize went to the dramatic short “Hector’s Woman (La mujer de Héctor)” from NYC-based Puerto Rican filmmaker Ricardo Varona, with other prizes given to “Chilly & Milly,” “It’s Not Her (No Es Ella),” “For Some Horses (Por unos caballos),” and “The Year of the Radio (El Año del Radio).”

Pakistani filmmaker Ali Sohail Jaura earned the $5,000 Miami International Short Film award, for his historical war drama “Murder Tongue,” which illuminates one of the most brutal chapters in the history of Karachi, Pakistan.

The $500 University of Miami Short Documentary Film Award was given to “The Originals,” directed by Cristina Costantini and Alfie Koetter, a ten-year retrospective through the eyes of their former landlord and his childhood friends about growing up in South Brooklyn. “Firelei Báez: An Open Horizon (or) The Stillness of a Wound,” directed by Souki Mehdaoui, received an honorable mention.

The Audience Short Film Award went to romantic comedy “Cariño,” directed by Fernanda Lamuño. First runner up was “Un Pequeño Corte,” directed by Mariana Serrano and second runner up “Madame Pipi,” directed by Rachelle Salnave.

This year’s Best Poster Award went to two outstanding images. Designed by Nate Biller of Jump Cut, the poster for the period drama Parsley evoked the style of Hollywood epics of the 1930s, according to the Festival’s selection panel, while it “subverts those traditions by foregrounding Black Latinx/Haitian characters” to create a timely statement at once “poignant and powerful.” Sander Brouwer’s work for the Chilean thriller Immersion, spotlighting a man unwilling to help a sinking boat, “moved” the judges “immensely” through an inverted submergence in emotion, “a conflict of morals and paranoia,” that can prevent human beings from acting compassionately.

Previous Knight Marimbas Award winner Lorenz Metz served as trailer editor of his own film, the Switzerland-produced Soul of a Beast, a conflicted romantic drama which was chosen for this year’s Best Trailer Award by select members of the Festival’s Program Committee.

Returning in 2022 is the $1,000 Florida Cinemaslam Student Film Award, judged by previous Cinemaslam-winning alumni, with its cash prize going to the gay character study The Truth of a Thousand Nights, directed by Chris Molina. Other non-cash awards were given in five categories: Offside, directed by Emiliano Gioffre (Best Writing), Offside, directed by Emiliano Gioffre (Best Actor), One Call Away, directed by Camila Marcano (Best Actress), Cut Short, directed by Charlie Andelman (Best Cinematography) and Symfaunic, directed by Erin Bergin and Darby Kate Snyder (Best Technical Achievement).

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