Thanks to the Cultist blog at “the Miami New Times” I had a chance to speak with one of Spain’s most exciting young directors, Nacho Vigalondo about his new movie, Extraterrestrial. His 2007 film about murder, time travel and lots of mystery, Timecrimes, remains a favorite film of mine from that year (Support the Independent Ethos, purchase on Amazon). As I told him after he called me from his home base of Madrid this past Sunday, it takes a sure hand to deal in the narrative trickery of a time travel film. “It’s really flattering when I go to festivals, and I realize with great surprise a lot of praise for Timecrimes,” he said, “but sometimes it’s a terrifying situation because I totally know that my new film can be understood as quite the opposite.”

The “new film” he was referring to is Extraterrestrial, a movie he said he considers a spin on the screwball comedy, something very different in tone to Timecrimes. Asked if he felt any pressure to come up with a follow-up, he answered, “It’s funny because at this moment I feel like I had a big success with Timecrimes. But it was rejected in other countries even before going to Spain. It was a festival film instead of a big box office sensation. I didn’t feel Timecrimes was a success at that time. I can feel there’s a growing cult towards the film, but it’s not enough at the moment, so I don’t feel that pressure. I understand that for many people Extraterrestrial is the first of my movies they are going to see.”

As part of the Miami International Film Festival’s upcoming 30th anniversary season of activities, he will visit Miami this Saturday to introduce the film and stick around for a Q&A afterward with the audience. He said he looks forward to the audience’s reaction. “I love to be there with the audience because it’s a comedy, and when you direct a comedy, you become greedy, and you want to hear the reaction of the audience and the laughter,” he said. “It’s as simple as that. I know it’s kind of a childish feeling, but if I write a comedy, I love to hear the laughs.”

For more on his new and very different movie, Extraterrestrial, and details on this Saturday’s event, read my story in Cultist after the jump, through the image below:

Hans Morgenstern

(Copyright 2012 by Hans Morgenstern. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.)

MIFF2014_posterToday is the day tickets for films at the 31st Miami International Film Festival go on sale to the general public. The opening night was about a month away, when I called up the festival’s director, Jaie Laplante. He had just finalized the line-up with three major, late additions to the program, bringing the total number of feature films at this year’s festival to 97. They included the new thriller Open Windows, by Spanish director Nacho Vigalondostarring Elijah Wood and Sasha Grey. It will have its world premiere only a few days before MIFF at South By Southwest. There was also An Unbreakable Bond, a documentary by Emilio and Gloria Estefan about Marc Buoniconti, a man who turned a tragic injury into a triumph. Finally, he mentioned Kid Cannabis, a world premiere from actor-turned-director John Stockwell. Tickets to these films and the rest of the program can be found here.

We spoke for about 20 minutes that day. Laplante even gave up the names of some of his personal favorites. You can find out what some of those are, by jumping through the link to the art and culture blog “Cultist,” at the “Miami New Times,” below:

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During our chat he mentioned one other favorite that I too am very excited about:  Locations: Looking for Rusty James, a film about one of Francis Ford Coppola’s more underrated films, Rumble Fish (My personal favorite film: ‘Rumble Fish;’ read my ode to Coppola’s underrated masterpiece in AFI), and it’s influence on young people in Chile when it was released in the early 1980s. Laplante called Locations, “a very different kind of documentary. It’s not so narrative-driven … It’s more of a personal essay type of film, extraordinarily moving, but a different type of film for us in the documentary competition.”

I only left his mention of Locations out of the “Cultist” interview of his favorites because I had already gushed about it at the end of an earlier post  in “Cultist,” which can be found here. 15_BAFICI_LOCACIONES-2It will make those who are already fans of Rumble Fish swoon and those unfamiliar with the source of inspiration for Locations will surely want to seek it out once they experience this special film essay by Chilean director Alberto Fuguet. Here’s a handy link to purchase the U.S. DVD and support Independent Ethos at the same time: check out Rumble Fish.

My interest in films at MIFF has always been the more experimental works, so we also talked about one of my favorite categories of the festival: Visions, which featured a pair of favorite films from last year’s festival, Leviathan and Post Tenebras Lux. However, this year, that section has been toned down a bit. “It’s much smaller than last year,” noted Laplante, “but we have two films in there. One of them is Ari Folman’s The Congress. The other one is a German film called Wetlands, which was just in Sundance. Both of those are programmed by Andres Castillo [Managing Director & Senior Programmer of MIFF].”

But those looking for interesting experimental cinema need not look further than Miami’s own backyard. Local filmmakers took the spotlight at the press conference announcing this year’s line-up. Click through the image below of some of these filmmakers on stage with Laplante at Miami-Dade College’s Wolfson campus to hear a little from them:

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You can watch the complete (uncensored) press conference below:

Finally, there’s a more focused article on local filmmakers that will be available in this month’s issue of “Pure Honey,” a ‘zine that can be found at hip independent shops and cafes across the Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach County area. Or you can read the article, by jumping through the “Pure Honey” logo below:

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Of course, MIFF is also about getting the stars down to Miami. Though some big ones have already been booked, including what some would consider “living legends,” when Laplante and I spoke, he was still working on inviting a few more. Here’s Laplante on some of the festival guests that will walk the red carpet this year: “We’re still confirming a lot of our guests, but Shirley MacLaine and Christopher Plummer are attending our opening night gala presentation [for Elsa & Fred], as well as director Michael Radford. We have Andy Garcia and Raymond de Filitta confirmed for our award night film Rob the Mob, a world premiere. We have, of course, John Turturro, who we are paying tribute to. He will be here to accept the tribute award in person. Shep Gordon is going to be coming and speaking about his experiences making the movie [Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon] with Mike Myers. Most, if not all, the directors in the competition will be here, as well as the directors from the Lexus Opera Prima Competition and we’re still, as I said, working on other guests, but those are some names I can tell you are confirmed now.”

The Miami International Film Festival runs March 7 – March 16 and takes place in several venues across Miami-Dade. For tickets and more info visit miamifilmfestival.com.

Hans Morgenstern

(Copyright 2014 by Hans Morgenstern. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.)