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This morning, Miami Dade College’s Miami Film Festival announced its GEMS 2016 Lineup. Like last year, the mini film festival will offer an array of films that will satisfy connoisseurs of world cinema, fans of music and those looking for a sneak peak at films that will surely go on to be Oscar contenders.

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If it’s hard for Terrence Malick to weave together an affecting story from shreds of beautifully photographed pastiche and disembodied voice over, then imagine one of his acolytes giving it a try. With that in mind, The Vessel, the feature-length directorial debut of Julio Quintana, a camera operator who worked with Malick on The Tree of Life and To the Wonder, actually comes across as quite accomplished.

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Director Ron Howard takes advantage of the wealth of archival photos and videos of the Beatles to recreate their touring years in his most recent film, Eight Days A Week. The documentary captures that sense of wonder that fans of the Beatles once had as this new phenomenon emerged and became a cultural icon. The style of the documentary is straightforward, as is the narrative, which follows a chronological, linear direction. The talking heads in the documentary are interspersed with stills and abundant video footage of the Beatles in action, some of it never seen until now.

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Sometimes Miami has a stigma in the world of the arts. It’s cultural scene unfortunately exists in the shadow of beaches and nightlife. Though we here at Indpendent Ethos have long championed its unique music, from Holly Hunt to Boxwood, to most recently Xela Zaid, and such pioneering film events like the first Horror Film Festival in Florida to filmmakers like Jillian Mayer, Monica Peña and Carla Forte, the prejudice of a party city always seems to (unfairly) haunt this place. Further south, in the islands of the Caribbean, a place known for its resorts, it only seems worse. But just like Miami, the Caribbean has so much more to offer, including surprising music and human stories unique to the area.

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His middle name is Groucho but his comedy is far from the Marx legacy that influenced his father, Spanish filmmaker Fernando Trueba, and though some aspects of his films recall the French New Wave, do not call his style retro. Jonás Groucho Trueba’s films have modern concerns about love in a modern age. He also uses cinema techniques that push the against the medium’s boundaries to represent his themes with an equally fresh perspective.

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In Don’t Think Twice, comedian Mike Birbiglia once again taps into his sense for tragi-comedy to exorcise his demons by putting his personal struggles on the big screen. His previous movie, Sleep Walk With Me (Relationships and dreams collide in ‘Sleepwalk With Me’ — a film review) was a very personal re-telling of the end of a relationship gone awry. Now he turns to his career. Birbiglia wrote, directed, and co-stars in this new film that explores how individuals find a sense of belonging and how traditional markers of success, such as money and popularity, actually become obstacles that deter people from finding their own way.

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One of the most powerful films you will see this year is Land and Shade (Tierra y Sombra). The 2015 winner of the prestigious Cannes Caméra d’or, the movie is simple but has that subtle quality of getting under your skin. The story revolves around very few characters, a family in the Valle de Cauca region in Colombia. It is a low-income family: the matriarch Alicia (Hilda Ruiz) and her daughter-in-law (Marleyda Soto) work in a sugar plantation in a brutal environment for very low wages. The matriarch’s son Gerardo (Edison Raigosa) has fallen ill of some sort of respiratory illness. Bed-ridden, he can no longer work on the plantation. Gerardo’s wife steps up to his job while taking care of him and their 6-year-old son. The action is set in motion when his estranged father Alfonso (Haimer Leal) returns to enter the constrained family dynamic.

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