getaway 2

Writer-director Kelly Reichardt recently premiered Certain Women at Sundance, where it was picked up by IFC Films for U.S. distribution and Sony for worldwide release. It reunites her once again with actress Michelle Williams and also features Laura Dern and Kristen Stewart, a stellar cast if there ever was one. Reichardt has done well for herself and grown much since her 1994 feature debut, River of Grass, so you will have to forgive a little cynicism with her hindsight view on her first film, which was recently restored by Oscilloscope Pictures with the help of actor/director Larry Fessendenher producers and a Kickstarter campaign. “There’s no mistaking it’s from the ‘90s,” she admits, speaking from her home in New York. “Maybe it’s the learning as you go kind of thing,” she says.

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Phil Holland Ad One

FilmGate Interactive’s third iteration starts today in Miami. The film festival/conference is an interactive, immersive event that is part entertainment and part an educational workshop for emerging filmmakers. The creative and independent organization is quickly rising to be the main stage for “transmedia” storytelling in South Florida. It is a new field, and an exciting one, as its technology-heavy aspects have lowered the barriers of entry associated with traditional filmmaking. “There are a lot more women and is a more egalitarian and definitely independent,” says Diliana Alexander, Executive Director of FilmGate.

FilmGate Interactive is a creative conference living at the intersection of storytelling and new technology and runs from Feb. 20 – 28. Now in its third year, it promises to deliver well-rounded content while making it fun as well. The week is packed with events for everyone. As a film lover, I cannot wait to experience some of the interactive screenings, but there are plenty of events for filmmakers that are simply not available anywhere else in South Florida.

There is a cornucopia of events to attend this year in a short time span, which can easily become overwhelming. “This year there are a couple of themes behind the conference,” says Alexander. The thematic strands behind this year’s events are climate change, the right to privacy and death. Sobering issues that are covered via interactive filmmaking, like One Dark Night, which re-casts the story of Trayvon Martin’s death through a fully immersive virtual reality experience. According to Alexander this a “must-see” interactive exhibit. Director Nonny de la Peña has been leading the charge on advocating for experiential journalism and using transmedia, as it changes how we receive information. In a recent TED Talk, she made the case for virtual reality technology use in journalism that puts the audience inside the story.

tech playground meeting

The festival is also spotlighting France this year, and one of the more important representatives of the nation comes via the screening of Wei or Die, a 90 minute interactive feature film by Simon Bouisson. The screening is a North American premiere and will be shown with subtitles. This is another of the must-see films in FilmGate Interactive. Wei or Die is a multi-camera narrative that tells the story of hazing gone wrong. Bouisson, along with the film’s producer, will attend FilmGate Interactive. Another not-to-miss screening is Do Not Track, an interactive web documentary about tracking data on line.

A new addition to this year’s FilmGate Interactive is “The Percolator Industry Pitch Session,” which aims to connect filmmakers with local talent. The program entails a training session on how to pitch ideas to networks and will be followed by actual opportunities to pitch to a few networks including VICE, MTV and others still to be confirmed. Up to 15 local filmmakers will be able to pitch their ideas to individual networks, which will then gather for a closing panel to give feedback to the entire class of participants on what worked and what didn’t. “Even people who were not able to participate in each session will be a part of it through the workshop,” says Alexander. This is an innovative idea that is clearly a welcome addition to South Florida, home to talented people that at times struggle to connect with the right resources to create locally.


Finally, it wouldn’t be South Florida without a kick ass party. FilmGate Interactive hosts its “kickoff” party mid-festival, on Thursday, at 7 p.m., at the Deauville Beach Resort. In addition to a great time, there are a pair of free events and several ticketed workshops like a sound workshop, led by Billy Wirasnick who has helped pioneer the Slow TV movement in the U.S. “Sound is such an important asset in immersive filmmaking,” says Alexander. Also, local actor and Emmy Award Winner Jordi Vilasuso will lead a two-day intensive Master Class designed for actors. The festival will also host a three-day Cinematography class in Stiltsville with RED Digital Cinema led by Phil Holland, a digital imaging specialist on several notable movies, including credits on several X-Men and Fast & Furious movies. Also it sounds idyllic to be in such a unique, historical location.

The festival kicked off in 2013 thanks to a winning a big grant during the Knight Foundation’s Arts Challenge that allowed FilmGate to become an international Conference, which allowed the festival to bring some of the most innovative storytellers from Canada, London and France to Miami. Alexander says the grant allowed for than important guests to take part in the festival but also brought important ideas to it. “Being a Knight Grantee, outside of financial assistance, also introduces you to other amazing projects, and we have gained many collaborators from just sitting beside other recipients of amazing projects and loving what they are doing,” she says.

As the film community grows in South Florida, there will be more need to build peer-to-peer bridges and share technical knowledge about filmmaking. This is one of those areas where FilmGate shines. Although South Florida is not a filmmaking hub, that dream may not be as far-fetched as it once seemed.

Ana Morgenstern

For tickets go to: Individual screenings are $10 for subscribers. Advanced tickets are $60 and include access to the Tech Playground, workshops, projects and an invitation to the launch event. An All Access Pass can also be purchased for $120, which includes invitations to industry happy hours, the kickoff pool party at the Deauville Hotel and the Future Survivor themed closing party and awards ceremony.

(Copyright 2016 by Ana Morgenstern. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.)

new-banner_miffToday, Miami Dade College’s Miami International Film Festival announced its line-up for the 33rd edition of the festival, taking place at various venues across Miami-Dade County, on March 4 – 13. We shared a hint of what was coming last year, including what opening night will be like (Miami International Film Festival hints at Spanish heavy line-up for 2016). There is much to look forward to, including 12 world premieres, 16 North American premieres and 13 U.S.premieres, so start planning your screenings, jump through this link to start your scheduling.

As for what this writer sees in the 129 films chosen to screen at this year’s festival, one of the films I have been looking forward to for years has been The Lobster by Yorgos Lanthimos. When I first read about this movie about a man who has to either pair up with a mate by a certain age or choose an animal he would like to be turned into, I wholly expected it to be another quirky Greek-language movie by the director of Dogtooth. It’s now become an English-language production featuring Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz and John C. Reilly. It’s being handled by small productions houses, so it’s still an indie movie. I can only hope this means Lanthimos is still being granted free license to be as weird as he wants to be.


The Lobster is in competition for the festival’s main prize, the Knight Competition, presented by The John S. & James L. Knight Foundation (Full disclosure: We are winners of a Knight Arts Challenge Grant). The contest  for Achievement awards totaling $40,000 in cash. There 28 films in the contest and include a world premiere by a Miami filmmaker we have profiled here, Monica Peña (Storytelling through collaboration – Director Monica Peña discusses filmmaking and upcoming Speaking in Cinema panel). Her film, Hearts of Palm, will also have its world premiere at the festival. We wish her the best of luck because we quite love her and truly consider her a visionary. But she has some stiff competition.

Among other notable filmmakers in the Knight Competition are Carlos Saura with Argentina, Jia Zhangke’s the much-loved Mountains May Depart and Terence Davies with his latest, Sunset Song. There are 17 films in the competition. Other notable films include Chronic, Mexico’s Oscar entry starring Tim Roth, Dheepan, Jacques Audiard’s latest, and Nothing Left Unsaid: Gloria Vanderbilt & Anderson Cooper, a film by one of today’s great documentary filmmakers and a longtime regular of the festival, Liz Garbus. For a complete list in the competition, see the press release below.


The festival is also about the guests, and they include actress Monica Bellucci, director/actress Iciar Bollain, director Gavin Hood and director Deepa Mehta. All four will participate in a new “Marquee Series” of on-stage conversations to correspond with screenings of their latest work. The closing night film will be the U.S. premiere of The Steps by director Andrew Currie. The comedy about a clash of two dysfunctional families stars James Brolin and Jason Ritter. After the screening, the closing night party will commence in the outdoor plaza at the newly announced One Brickell property, located on the banks of the Miami River at 444 Brickell Ave.

We also have to note other locals, besides Peña, who we are excited to see take part in the festival. Orlando Rojas has a documentary about Rosario Suarez, a noted exiled ballerina from Cuba now living in Miami. It will be the film’s world premiere. Then there will be a series of short films about local artists by some of Miami’s upcoming filmmakers, many of whom have appeared at Sundance or are associated with Borscht Corp. The program is entitled I’ve Never Not Been from Miami and features films directed by Peña, Andrew Hevia, Joey Daoud, Jonathan David Kane, Tabatha Mudra, Keisha Rae Witherspoon, Kenny Riches, Jacob Katel, Kareem Tabsch and Tina Francisco. It screens  Ten short films all directed by local filmmakers.

Here’s a playlist to all the YouTube trailers for the films playing at the festival:

Finally, below is the festival’s comprehensive press release:

For Immediate Release

Monday, February 1, 2016

Monica Bellucci, Iciar Bollaín, Gavin Hood, 

Deepa Mehta and Raphael to Headline 

33rd Edition of Miami Dade College’s Acclaimed 

Miami International Film Festival

Running March 4–13, 2016, Filmmakers from 40 Countries Proudly Exhibit 129 Feature, Documentary, and Short Films

Miami, FL — Monica Bellucci, Iciar Bollaín, Gavin Hood and Deepa Mehta will all receive tributes in a new Marquee Series to be presented at the 33rd edition of Miami Dade College’s Miami International Film Festival scheduled for March 4 – 13, 2016, it was announced today.  Additionally, Andrew Currie’s comedy The Steps, starring James Brolin, will receive its US premiere at the Festival as the Closing Night selection. The Festival is the only major film festival worldwide produced by a college or university.

The new announcements join Alex de la Iglesia’s My Big Night, previously announced as the Opening Night Selection, as the Festival’s major touchstones. The pop comedy My Big Night stars Spanish recording legend Raphael, who will open the Festival with a personal appearance at the March 4th screening.  The 10-day annual event takes place at the Festival’s traditional home, the historic Olympia Theater in Downtown Miami, plus six additional cinemas scattered across the Magic City; and includes a plethora of screenings, stylish parties, thoughtful panel discussions, spirited film competitions, awards ceremonies and immersive cultural exchange opportunities for filmmakers attending from across the globe. 

“This year’s lineup is like a prism that invites Miami to see the world with an illumination that only the cinema, and the artists that create the work, can provide,” says the Festival’s Executive Director and Director of Programming, Jaie Laplante. “The programmers have populated the program with films and events that are essential to the complex, dynamic, ever-changing Miami of the now.“

This year’s Festival showcases 129 films, including 100 feature films and documentaries and 29 short films produced and directed by both renowned and emerging talent from 40 countries. Forty-six are directed or co-directed by women. The Festival is pleased to announce numerous important premieres: 12 World, 1 International, 16 North American and 13 US premieres, debuting in Miami.

The Festival’s new Marquee Series category, dedicated to on-stage conversations with major film personalities of the moment, sharing a major new work, includes:

  • Monica Bellucci in Conversation with Guy Edoin (Tuesday, March 8th). The Italian fashion beauty and screen star will discuss her career up to and including her brilliant new starring role in Edoin’s Ville-Marie, which will screen after the Conversation.
  • Iciar Bollaín in Conversation (Sunday, March 6th). The double Goya Award-winning Spanish actress-director will speak about her career and her latest film, The Olive Tree, which will receive its World Premiere in Miami after the Conversation.
  • Gavin Hood in Conversation (Saturday, March 5th). The Academy Award-winning South African filmmaker of Tsotsi will speak about his career and screen his new film, Eye In The Sky, starring Dame Helen Mirren and the late Alan Rickman.
  • Deepa Mehta in Conversation (Wednesday, March 9th). The Academy Award-nominated Indo-Canadian filmmaker of Water will speak about her career in the context of the screening of her new film, Beeba Boys, described as “a desi Scarface”.


Additional films include:

CINEDWNTWN Opening Night Film presented by Miami Downtown Development Authority and Opening Night Party presented by The Historic Alfred I. Dupont Building and Tilia Events on Friday, March 4, 2016

  • As previously announced, Álex de la Iglesia’s My Big Night (Spain), starring Spanish pop icon Raphael and an ensemble cast of many of the biggest stars in the Spanish film industry, opens the Festival. In a special treat for Miami audiences, Raphael will appear in person at the screening to officially inaugurate this year’s Festival.
  • My Big Night turns into “My Big Party” after the film with an outstanding Opening Night party at the Historic Alfred I. Dupont Building.  The party promises to ring in the new Festival with glitz and cheer, boasting rocking music, cuisine, cocktails, and dancing, all in the spirit of a glittering New Year’s Eve bash.  The events kick off the Festival’s CINEDWNTWN series, sponsored by Miami’s Downtown Development Authority.

CINEDWNTWN Awards Night Film presented by Miami Downtown Development Authority and Pyrat Rum Awards Night Party sponsored by The Related Group on Saturday, March 12, 2016

  • Following the presentation of the juried Awards, the US premiere of Andrew Currie‘s The Steps (Canada) will close the Festival’s official premieres. Featuring a brilliant ensemble cast led by James Brolin and Oscar-winner Christine Lahti, this riotous comedy is about what happens when two already fraught families are forced to merge into one big dysfunctional clan.  Also starring Jason Ritter and Emmanuelle Chriqui.
  • After the screening, continue a glorious evening by walking up “the steps” to the beautiful outdoor plaza at The Related Group‘s latest addition to the swanky Miami skyline, the newly-announced One Brickell property just “steps” away from Olympia Theater on the banks of the Miami River at 444 Brickell Ave.  Feel what it means to project light in the Magic City through an imaginative collection of installations and entertainers, all courtesy of Pyrat Rum and Stella Artois.

CINEDWNTWN SCREENINGS presented by Miami Downtown Development Authority:  Red carpet events featuring the year’s most compelling works be top-tier directors showcased at the historic Olympia Theater in Downtown Miami.  New titles announced for major screenings in the Festival’s historic home for all 33 of its years:

  • Queen of Thursdays (USA, directed by Orlando Rojas) *World Premiere  A documentary about Rosario Suarez, Cuba’s famed, exiled prima ballerina now living in Miami.
  • I’ve Never Not Been from Miami (USA, directed by Andrew Hevia, Joey Daoud, Jonathan David Kane, Monica Peña, Tabatha Mudra, Keisha Rae Witherspoon, Kenny Riches, Jacob Katel, Kareem Tabsch and Tina Francisco). Ten short films all directed by local filmmakers, about local artists. A Soiree Film paired with Behind the Curtain Onstage Party at Olympia Theater.
  • “Who Is Lou Gehrig?” (USA, directed by Gil Green). A documentary short mixing illusion and reality about local basketball coach Jeff Fogel and his brave fight to stay positive. Featuring Miami Heat’s Udonis Haslem.

These films join the previously announced CINEDWNTWN GALAS:

  • Palm Trees in The Snow (Spain, directed by Fernando González Molina)
  • The Rebound (USA, directed by Shaina Allen) *World Premiere – A Soiree Film paired with “Who Is Lou Gehrig?” (USA, directed by Gil Green) – Screenings paired with a Backlot Bash at Toejam Backlot (150 NW 21st St., Miami)
  • Spanish Affair 2 (Ocho apellidos catalanes) (Spain, directed by Emilio Martinez Lazaro)


Knight Competition, presented by The John S. & James L. Knight Foundation: A mesmerizing variety of powerful works from around the world, directed by filmmakers who have directed at least one previous Official Selection (feature) of the Festival. Films are eligible for Achievement awards totaling $40,000 in cash. The 28 films (*indicates the title was previously announced) selected for this Competition are:

  • *The Apostate (Spain, Uruguay, France, directed by Federico Veiroj)
  • Argentina (Argentina, directed by Carlos Saura)
  • Chronic (Mexico, France, directed by Michel Franco)
  • The Companion (Cuba, Colombia, France, Panama, Venezuela, directed by Pavel Giroud)
  • Dheepan (France, directed by Jacques Audiard)
  • Eye in The Sky (UK, directed by Gavin Hood)
  • *Happy 140 (Spain, directed by Gracia Querejeta)
  • *Hearts of Palm (USA, directed by Monica Peña) *World Premiere
  • I Promise You Anarchy (Mexico, Germany, directed by Julio Hernández Cordón)
  • Incident Light (Argentina, France, Uruguay, directed by Ariel Rotter)
  • *An Italian Name (Italy, directed by Francesca Archibugi)
  • The Lobster (Ireland, UK, Greece, France, Netherlands, directed by Yorgos Lanthimos)
  • The Memory of Water (Chile, Spain, Argentina, Germany, directed by Matias Bize)
  • A Monster with A Thousand Heads (Mexico, directed by Rodrigo Plá)
  • Mountains May Depart (China, France, Japan, directed by Zhang-ke Jia)
  • Much Ado About Nothing (Chile, directed by Alejandro Fernandez-Almendras)
  • The Music of Strangers: Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble (USA, directed by Morgan Neville)
  • *My Big Night (Spain, directed by Álex de la Iglesia)
  • *Nothing Left Unsaid: Gloria Vanderbilt & Anderson Cooper (USA, directed by Liz Garbus)
  • The Olive Tree (Spain, Germany, directed by Iciar Bollaín) *World Premiere
  • One Breath (Germany, Greece, directed by Christian Zübert)
  • Paulina (Argentina, Brazil, France, directed by Santiago Mitre)
  • *Spanish Affair 2 (Spain, directed by Emilio Martinez Lazaro)
  • *Spy Time (Spain, directed by Javier Ruiz Caldera)
  • Sunset Song (UK, Luxembourg, directed by Terence Davies)
  • Tale of Tales (Italy, France, UK, directed by Mateo Garrone)
  • *Trapped (USA, directed by Dawn Porter)
  • *Truman (Spain, Argentina, directed by Cesc Gay)

Knight Documentary Achievement Award presented by The John S. & James L. Knight Foundation: Candid, thought-provoking feature-length documentaries examining social issues, diverse cultures and influential people compete for an audience-voted $10,000 cash achievement award. The 17 films (*indicates the title was previously announced) selected for this Competition are:

  • Argentina (Argentina, directed by Carlos Saura)
  • *Beyond My Grandfather Allende (Chile, Mexico, directed by Marcia Tambutti Allende)
  • *Cameraperson (USA, directed by Kirsten Johnson)
  • The Forbidden Shore (Canada, directed by Ron Chapman)
  • Mapplethorpe: Look at The Pictures (USA, directed by Fenton Bailey and Randy Barnato)
  • The Music of Strangers: Yo-Yo Ma and The Silk Road Ensemble (USA, directed by Morgan Neville)
  • *Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You (USA, directed by Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady)
  • *Nothing Left Unsaid: Gloria Vanderbilt & Anderson Cooper (USA, directed by Liz Garbus)
  • Our Last Tango (Germany, Argentina, directed by German Kral)
  • Queen of Thursdays (USA, directed by Orlando Rojas) *World Premiere
  • Presenting Princess Shaw (Israel, directed by Ido Haar)
  • *The Rebound (USA, directed by Shaina Allen) *World Premiere
  • *Snacks, Bites of A Revolution (Spain, directed by Veronica Escuer and Cristina Jolonch)
  • Thank You for Your Service (USA, directed by Tom Donahue)
  • *Tocando la luz (Touch The Light) (USA, Cuba, directed by Jennifer Redfearn)
  • *Trapped (USA, directed by Dawn Porter)
  • *Weiner (USA, directed by Josh Kriegman and Elyse Steinberg)

Lexus Ibero-American Feature Film Competition: Open to all Ibero-American films in the Official Selection, competing for a jury-selected cash Achievement Award of $10,000, courtesy of Lexus. The 35 films (*indicates the title was previously announced) selected for this Competition are:

  • *Abzurdah (Argentina, directed by Daniela Goggi)
  • *The Apostate (Spain, Uruguay, France, directed by Federico Veiroj)
  • *The Bride (Spain, Germany, directed by Paula Ortiz)
  • Cien años de perdon (Spain, directed by Daniel Calparsoro)
  • The Companion (Cuba, Colombia, France, Panama, Venezuela, directed by Pavel Giroud)
  • *Dark Glasses (Cuba, Spain, directed by Jessica Rodriguez)
  •  Dogs’ Night (Argentina, directed by Nacho Sesma)
  • Elephant: The Horse (Chile, Colombia, Mexico, directed by Andrés Waissbluth) *World Premiere
  • The Farm (Puerto Rico, directed by AngelManuel Soto)
  • From Afar (Venezuela, Mexico, directed by Lorenzo Vigas)
  • *Happy 140 (Spain, directed by Gracia Querejeta)
  • The Heirs (Mexico, Norway, directed by Jorge Hernandez)
  • I Promise You Anarchy (Mexico, Germany, directed by Julio Hernández Cordón)
  • Incident Light (Argentina, France, Uruguay, directed by Ariel Rotter)
  • *The King of Havana (Spain, Dominican Republic, directed by Agusti Villaronga)
  • *Ma Ma (Spain, France, directed by Julio Medem)
  • *Magallanes (Peru, Argentina, Colombia, Spain, directed by Salvador del Solar)
  • The Memory of Water (Chile, Spain, Argentina, Germany, directed by Matias Bize)
  • A Monster with A Thousand Heads (Mexico, directed by Rodrigo Plá)
  • Much Ado About Nothing (Chile, directed by Alejandro Fernandez-Almendras)
  • *My Big Night (Spain, directed by Álex de la Iglesia)
  • *My Friend from The Park (Argentina, Uruguay, directed by Ana Katz)
  • No Kids (Argentina, Spain, directed by Ariel Winograd)
  • *Nothing in Return (Spain, directed by Daniel Guzmán)
  • The Olive Tree (Spain, Germany, directed by Iciar Bollaín) *World Premiere
  • *Palm Trees in The Snow (Spain, directed by Fernando González Molina)
  • Panamerican Machinery (Mexico, directed by Joaquin del Paso)
  • Paulina (Argentina, Brazil, France, directed by Santiago Mitre)
  • *Restless Love (Brazil, directed by Vera Egito) *World Premiere
  • *Siembra (Colombia, directed by Angela Maria Osorio Rojas and Santiago Lozano Alvarez)
  • *Spanish Affair 2 (Spain, directed by Emilio Martinez Lazaro)
  • *Spy Time (Spain, directed by Javier Ruiz Caldera)
  • *Truman (Spain, Argentina, directed by Cesc Gay)
  • Viaje (Costa Rica, directed by Paz Fabrega)
  • *We Are Pregnant (Spain, directed by Juana Macías)

Jordan Alexander Ressler Foundation Screenwriting Prize: Screenwriters from all feature films in the Festival that have a first-produced feature screenwriter credited, compete for a jury-selected cash prize of $5,000, courtesy of the family of the late Jordan Alexander Ressler. The 11 screenwriters (*indicates the title was previously announced) eligible for this competition are:

  • Beatbox (USA, written by Andrew Dresher)
  • *Dark Glasses (Cuba, Spain, written by Jessica Rodriguez)
  • Dogs’ Night (Argentina, written by Nacho Sesma)
  • The Farm (Puerto Rico, written by Angel Manuel Soto)
  • From Afar (Venezuela, Mexico, written by Lorenzo Vigas)
  • *Magallanes (Peru, Argentina, Colombia, Spain, written by Salvador del Solar)
  • *Mountain (Israel, written by Yaelle Kayam)
  • *Nothing in Return (Spain, written by Daniel Guzmán)
  • *Siembra (Colombia, written by Angela Maria Osorio Rojas and Santiago Lozano Alvarez)
  • The Steps (Canada, written by Robyn Harding)
  • The Wait (Italy, written by Giacomo Bendotti, Ilaria Macchia, Andrea Paolo Massara and Piero Messina)

Shorts Competition: The latest in films 30 minutes or less from around the globe, the jury-selected winner will receive a $2,500 cash prize. The competing films are:

  • “The 100 Years Show” (USA, directed by Alison Klayman)
  • “Doble 9” (USA, directed by Aisha Schliessler) *World Premiere 
  • “Glove” (USA, directed by Bernardo Britto)
  • “If I Was God” (Canada, directed by Cordell Barker)
  • “La Nube” (Cuba, directed by Marcel Beltrán)
  • “Land Tides” (Chile, directed by Manuela Martelli and Amirah Tajdin)
  • “The Lift” (Spain, directed by Javier Polo) *World Premiere
  • “The Man of My Life” (France, directed by Melanie Delloye)
  • “Memories of The Sea” (Brazil, USA, Peru, directed by Thais Drassinower)
  • “Najmia” (USA, directed by Cristhian Andrews)
  • “Party Girl” (Poland, Trinidad & Tobago, directed by Roma Zachemba)
  • “This Modern Man Is Beat” (USA, directed by Alex Merkin)


SOIREE Series: A memorable evening out, beginning with an inspiring and entertaining film, segueing into a fabulous social experience. Films included in this series are:

  • The Idol (UK, Palestine, Qatar, Netherlands, United Arab Emirates, directed by Hany Abu-Assad) – Screening paired with The Standard Affair at The Standard Spa (40 Island Ave., Miami Beach)
  • Tale of Tales (Italy, directed by Matteo Garrone) – Screening paired with Desserts & Directors at The Temple House (1415 Euclid Ave., Miami Beach)

Cinema 360° presented by Viendomovies and XFINITY: A vibrant and dynamic selection of narrative works (*indicates previously announced title), from both accomplished and emerging filmmakers, including an international selection of dramas, comedies, suspense thrillers, and innovative docudramas.

  • *4 Kings (Germany, directed by Theresa Von Eltz)
  • Disorder  (France, Belgium, directed by Alice Winocour)
  • The Endless River (South Africa, France, directed by Oliver Hermanus)
  • Gold Coast (Denmark, Ghana, Sweden, directed by Daniel Dencik)
  • Highway to Hellas (Germany, directed by Aron Lehmann)
  • Maggie’s Plan (USA, directed by Rebecca Miller)
  • Mammal (Ireland, Netherlands, Luxembourg, directed by Rebecca Daly)
  • The Measure of a Man (France, directed by Stéphane Brizé)
  • The Meddler (USA, directed by Lorene Scafaria)
  • *My King (France, directed by Maïwenn)
  • *Our Loved Ones (Canada, directed by Anne Emond)
  • *Parched (India, USA, UK, directed by Leena Yadav)
  • The Promised Land (China, directed by He Ping)
  • “Rocket Wars” (Greece, directed by Salomon Ligthelm)
  • Standing Tall (France, directed by Emmanuelle Bercot)
  • *Summertime (France, directed by Catherine Corsini)
  • The Surprise (Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Ireland, directed by Mike Vam Diem)
  • Two Friends (France, directed by Louis Garrell)

Lee Brian Schrager’s Culinary Cinema: Returning for a fourth mouthwatering year, the Culinary Cinema category has teamed up with catering and foodie event legend, Lee Brian Schrager, for a schedule of distinct film & culinary pairings. Premiere sponsor, Frederick Wildman & Sons, will pair its wines with the four meals during the Festival. Take your palette and mind on a culinary adventure with these delicious options:

  • Crushed (Australia, directed by Megan Riakos) – Screening paired with a three-course meal prepared by Aussie native Chef Aaron Brooks at EDGE Steak & Bar at Four Seasons Hotel Miami (1435 Brickell Ave., Miami)
  • My Bakery in Brooklyn (Spain, USA, directed by Gustavo Ron) – Screening paired with an exclusive three-course private dinner at the ultra hip Wynwood kosher bakery & café, Zak the Baker (405 NW 26th St., Miami)
  • Snacks, Bites of A Revolution (Spain, directed by Veronica Escuer and Cristina Jolonch) – Screening paired with three-courses of Spanish experimental fare at Piripi Miami at The Shops at Merrick Park (320 San Lorenzo Ave., #1315, Coral Gables)
  • Sweet Bean (Japan, France, Germany, directed by Naomi Kawase) – Screening paired with prepared Japanese delights, by Japanese restaurant, Katsuya, and hosted at the MDC’s Tower Theater (1508 SW 8th St., Miami)
  • **PRE-FESTIVAL EVENT IN COLLABORATION WITH SOUTH BEACH WINE & FOOD FESTIVAL: Like Water for Chocolate (Mexico, 1992, directed by Alfonso Arau) – Sunday, February 28th at 6 p.m. / Following the screening, conversation with screenwriter, Laura Esquivel, at Loews Miami Beach Hotel, Americana Lawn (1601 Collins Ave., Miami Beach). The screening is paired with a dinner of authentic Mexican cuisine with James Beard Award-winning chef, Rick Bayless, at Loews Miami Beach Hotel, St. Moritz Lawn from 8 – 10 p.m.

Florida Focus: Showcasing films partially or wholly shot in the Sunshine State or by filmmakers who are native or current residents of Florida.

  • “Hand Built Boat” (USA, directed by Ani Mercedes)
  • Hearts of Palm (USA, directed by Monica Peña) *World Premiere
  • I’ve Never Not Been from Miami (USA, directed by Andrew Hevia, Joey Daoud, Jonathan David Kane, Monica Peña, Tabatha Mudra, Keisha Rae Witherspoon, Kenny Riches, Jacob Katel, Kareem Tabsch and Tina Francisco)
  • The Rebound (USA, directed by Shaina Allen) *World Premiere
  • “Star Child” (USA, directed by Tommy Demos) *World Premiere 
  • “Stripper Wars” (USA, directed by Giancarlo Loffredo)
  • Sweet Dillard (USA, directed by Jim Virga) *World Premiere 
  • “Swan Song of the Skunk Ape” (USA, directed by Brad Abrahams)
  • “This Modern Man Is Beat” (USA, directed by Alex Merkin)
  • “Tracks” (USA, directed by Logan Sandler)
  • “Who Is Lou Gehrig?” (USA, directed by Gil Green)

Visions: Provocative and stirring, these three feature-length visual experiences are guaranteed to test the limits and take viewers to the extreme.

  • Cemetery of Splendor (Thailand, UK, France, directed by Apichatpong Weerasethakul)
  • Hearts of Palm (USA, directed by Monica Peña) *World Premiere
  • The King of Havana (Spain, Dominican Republic, directed by Agusti Villaronga)

REEL Music: Five films emanating the global power of music.

  • Bazodee (Trinidad & Tobago, directed by Todd Kessler)
  • Beatbox (USA, directed by Andrew Dresher)
  • The Forbidden Shore (Canada, directed by Ron Chapman) *World Premiere
  • The Music of Strangers: Yo-Yo Ma and The Silk Road Ensemble (USA, directed by Morgan Neville)
  • Presenting Princess Shaw (Israel, directed by Ido Haar)

Miami Film 2016 Retrospective Screenings: These films come from the winners of the Latin American film market, Ventana Sur, who were a part of Miami Film 2016 which was organized by The Related Group and Miami International Film Festival. The winners’ retrospective works being shown include:

  • Absent (Argentina, produced by Pablo Ingercher)
  • Villegas (Argentina, directed by Gonzalo Tobal)
  • Refugiado (Argentina, directed by Diego Lerman)

MIFFecito: Specially curated for younger aficionados, these narrative films are for the entire family to enjoy.

  • Elephant: The Horse (Chile, Colombia, Mexico, directed by Andrés Waissbluth) *World Premiere
  • The Little Prince (France, Belgium, directed by Mark Osborne)
  • Oddball (Australia, directed by Stuart McDonald)

From The Vault: 

  • The Long Day Closes (1992) (UK, directed by Terence Davies), presented in conjunction with Miami Beach Cinematheque

All feature films in the Festival (excluding retrospective screenings) are eligible for the Lexus Audience Favorite Feature Film Award. All short films are eligible for their own Lexus Audience Favorite Award. Lexus is the Festival’s official automobile sponsor.

The Festival was curated by Laplante and a team comprised of veteran programmers Thom Powers, Andres Castillo, Orlando Rojas, Eloisa Lopez-Gomez and culinary cinema specialist Lee Brian Schrager.

Special events include:

Google Seminar Series on Gender & Racial Gaps in Film & Technology: This unique partnership with Google on a new seminar series will address gender and racial gaps in the film industry, particularly in technical cinematographic roles. In addition to the forum and screening there will be an opening day keynote address and more. Participants and full schedule will be announced in the coming days. Presented at The Idea Center of Miami Dade College.

Masterclass Seminars: Dream. Script. Screen. These unique conversations will provide in-depth knowledge direct from the filmmakers, technical experts and industry leaders literally creating and shaping modern cinema.

  • From Doodle to Pixels: Over a Hundred Years of Spanish Animation (Spain)
  • Producing in Florida and Beyond – In conjunction with CineVisun and the BFMG.
  • Making the Leap from Short to Feature Film – Moderated by Diliana Alexander of FilmGate Miami.

The CinemaSlam competition aims to discover, showcase, and celebrate the work of undergraduate and graduate students in Miami/South Florida film schools. Open to any student enrolled in a participating South Florida college/university upon the completion date of the film. In this edition, students from the following colleges from Miami /South Florida have submitted their shorts: Florida International University, Miami Dade College, University of Miami, Miami International University of Art and Design New World School of the Arts (University of Florida) and the Center of Cinematography, Arts and Television. The selected projects will be announced very soon.

Miami International Film Festival screening venues are as unique as the films themselves, reflecting the communities the Festival serves through film. Historic landmarks Olympia Theater and MDC’s Tower Theater, presented during the Festival by Viendomovies, evoke the golden age of Hollywood, tailor-made for major red carpet events. The Festival will also screen films at Regal Cinemas South Beach, O Cinema Miami Beach, Cinépolis, Coral Gables Art Cinema, Miami Beach Cinematheque and O Cinema Wynwood. Special event venues include The Idea Center, Miami Animation and Gaming International Complex (MAGIC) at Miami Dade College, and The Historic Alfred I. Dupont Building.

Tickets will go on sale to the general public on Friday, February 12th. For membership opportunities or more information about Miami International Film Festival, please visit or call 305-237-FILM (3456).

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About Miami Dade College’s Miami International Film Festival

Celebrating its 33rd annual edition March 4 – 13, 2016, Miami Dade College’s Miami International Film Festival is considered the preeminent film festival for showcasing Ibero-American cinema in the U.S., and a major launch pad for all international and documentary cinema. The annual Festival more than 60,000 audience members and more than 400 filmmakers, producers, talent and industry professionals. It is the only major festival housed within a college or university. In the last five years, the Festival has screened films from more than 60 countries, including 300 World, International, North American, U.S. and East Coast Premieres. Miami International Film Festival’s special focus on Ibero-American cinema has made the Festival a natural gateway for the discovery of new talent from this diverse territory. The Festival also offers unparalleled educational opportunities to film students and the community at large. Major sponsors of the 2016 Festival include Knight Foundation, Lexus and Miami-Dade County. For more information, visit or call 305-237-FILM(3456).

About Culture at Miami Dade College

The Cultural Affairs Department of Miami Dade College (MDC) is composed of the Miami Book Fair, Miami International Film Festival, Tower Theater, Koubek Center, Freedom Tower, MDC Live Arts and MDC Galleries and Museum of Art + Design. MDC is committed to providing its community with the opportunity to come in contact with innovative thinkers, creators and tradition bearers from around the world. With each presentation, MDC offers a bridge between cultures and ideas, creating new opportunities for the increasingly diverse population of Miami to come together through shared live arts experiences. For more information, visit

About John S. & James L. Knight Foundation

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. The foundation believes that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit

About Lexus

Lexus launched in 1989 with two luxury sedans and a commitment to pursue perfection. Since that time, Lexus has expanded its line-up to meet the needs of global luxury customers. Lexus is now going beyond its reputation for high quality vehicles with the integration of innovative technology, emotional exterior and interior designs, and engaging driving dynamics and performance. With six models incorporating Lexus Hybrid Drive, Lexus is the luxury hybrid leader. Lexus also offers seven F SPORT models and two F performance models. In the United States, Lexus vehicles are sold through 236 dealers who are committed to exemplary customer service.

About The Related Group

The Related Group was established in 1979, and is America’s leading developer of sophisticated urban living and one of the largest firms in the United States. Since its inception, the privately held company has built and managed more than 85,000 condominium and apartment residences. The Related Group has earned a national reputation for its visionary design and development of luxury condominiums, mixed-use center and affordable rental properties – often in emerging or undiscovered neighborhoods. The firm is one of the largest Hispanic-owned businesses in the United States with a development portfolio of projects worth in excess of $15 billion. TIME Magazine named Mr. Pérez one of top 25 most influential Hispanics in the United States, and has made the cover of Forbes twice. For more information, visit

About Miami Downtown Development Authority (DDA)

The Miami Downtown Development Authority is committed to improving the quality of life for businesses, employees, residents, and visitors in Downtown Miami. As an independent agency of the City of Miami, the Miami DDA supports business growth, infrastructure improvements and services for Downtown Miami residents and stakeholders. In addition to its programs and initiatives, the Miami DDA is partnering with the City and other government entities to strengthen Downtown Miami’s position as an international center for commerce, culture, and tourism. The organization is governed by a 15-member board comprised of three public appointees and 12 Downtown property owners, residents and/or workers. For more information about the Miami DDA and Downtown Miami, please visit

About The Historic Alfred I. Dupont Building

Opened on Christmas Day, 1939, THE ALFRED I. DUPONT BUILDING was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1989, designated a Historic Landmark in 1992 and became a Dade Heritage Trust Inductee in 1999. Dubbed the “USS Neversink” during World War II, when it served as Fleet Headquarters for the 7th Naval Command, the iconic tower was the first skyscraper constructed in Miami after the completion of the Dade County Courthouse in 1928, signaling the city’s economic recovery from the Great Depression.

Formerly the headquarters of Florida National Bank, The Historic ALFRED I. DUPONT BUILDING Mezzanine became a Special Events Venue in 2001. It may take all evening to fully absorb the beauty of the two ballrooms, but the stately aura surrounding the venue is lot on no one. Rather than a cavernous event space absent of character, the stately yet unobtrusive ‘30s architecture complements each event it hosts. The building is a true Miami gem – a bit of New York in the heart of Downtown Miami.

About Jordan Alexander Ressler

This special award recognizes and supports first-time produced screenwriters. It was created by the South Florida family of Jordan Alexander Ressler, an aspiring screenwriter and Cornell University film studies graduate who, during his brief entertainment career, held production positions with the Tony award-winning Broadway hits 700 Sundays with Billy Crystal and Jersey Boys.

 *  *  *

Hans Morgenstern

(Copyright 2016 by Hans Morgenstern. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.)

Hearts of Palm - Director Photo 2Miami’s film scene is not only booming with talented filmmakers, but it is also among the more diverse platforms for filmmakers due to an abundance of audiences. In the upcoming iteration of its Knight Foundation sponsored series “Speaking In Cinema,” Miami cinephiles will be getting a chance to hear up-close and in-depth conversations with three Miami-based independent filmmakers who have each crafted an important niche in different genres. Miami filmmakers Carla Forte (Miami Filmmaker Carla Forte on shooting hundreds of dogs in action and her impromptu poem on inspiration), Jillian Mayer (Jillian Mayer on inspiration from the medium of film and upcoming projects, from a talk show about pets to Kaiju), and Monica Peña will be featured in Oct. 22’s “Speaking in Cinema” presented and produced by the Miami Beach Cinematheque. Filmmaker Magazine Editor in Chief Scott Macaulay will be moderating the conversation, where each filmmaker will show highlights of their work.

I recently had a chance to talk to Peña about her filmmaking philosophy and her sources of inspiration in storytelling. We sat outdoors at the Vagabond Hotel, a fitting place since it is old and new Miami at once, evoking some the themes in Peña’s filmmaking, or as she puts it “Miami is an endlessly interesting place.” Peña’s opera prima, Ectotherms is a personal favorite, an artistic work with a definite point of view that offers complex storytelling about place, growing up and coming of age. The critical look at life in the tropics is coupled with a documentary filmmaking style and a use of stark music that enhances on-screen action, but what makes this film so great is Peña’s authenticity and uncompromising standpoint. The film was a personal favorite at last year’s Miami International Film Festival because it said so much with seemingly very little, and the multi-layered storytelling allowed spectators plenty of room to understand the work in personal ways.

Peña’s upcoming work is titled Hearts of Palm and promises to continue in the vein of Ectotherms with a narrative style that defies traditional storytelling. “It’s hard to describe or summarize in words,” she tells me of her upcoming film. “The seed of the film was an exploration of feminine and masculine parts of myself.” Although the film is loosely about a relationship, the sources of inspiration included literature, music, works of art, the Miami landscape and the disjointed nature of the self. Indeed, the film form is lose and demands of the audience to bring their own awareness to the story, unlike traditional storytelling where the film feeds the audience a clear line of thinking. That tradition could not be further from Peña’s approach. “The story is mostly told through vignettes that convey moments,” she continues. “A lot of it is told through music. There is very little dialogue and images are very surreal.” The work will lend itself to a unique conversation about film-making. From what I have had the chance to see in Peña’s work and hear about her process, the boundaries of film seem to disappear, and something that you haven’t seen before is created – an experiential sort of imagery.

Collaboration is key to Peña’s directorial style. Her creative process for Hearts of Palm included creating a core document that included the vision for the film, which she describes as “a story about a relationship that is decomposing, that took place in this house that is decomposing with supernatural undercurrents throughout.” Hearts of Palm - Director Photo 1Once the vision was shared and agreed upon by the filmmaking team, the story itself took shape and went in different directions in an organic way with input from the rest of the team. For Hearts of Palm, Peña has again joined forces with sound producer Joel C. Hernandez, who also collaborated on Ectotherms and provided sounds that are part of the narrative. During the collaborative process, production designer Lucila Garcia de Onrubia came up with the visuals and the feel of the vision for Hearts of Palm, bringing the tropical landscape indoors in a conceptual way. She credits cinematographer Jorge Rubiera and actor/original score composer Brad Lovett as contributors, for not only understanding her documentary-style of film-making but also helping bring her vision to life.

As this snippet of a long conversation shows, filmmaker Peña is excited to talk about her approach and share her personal philosophy on surreal filmmaking. “If you set your idea in motion, a movie starts to show you what it wants to be … it’s a matter of tuning in from that point on.” Indeed, Ectotherms feels organic, a journey that takes you out to another world and within into yourself — if you let it. Peña’s artistic visualizations on film have a marker that is hard to pinpoint. She tells me she is excited about discussing her own work alongside such a diverse slate of Miami’s filmmakers. The event goes to show that Miami’s film community encompasses a myriad voices. Although the event focuses on women filmmakers, it should be noted that the relevancy of their work stands on its own. However, having a platform to showcase it remains critical. “I feel like it’s important to create a place for women to speak … carving out spaces for women is important,” says Peña of the upcoming Speaking in Cinema.

In addition to Peña’s voice, we will have the pleasure to hear from Carla Forte, who brings a unique perspective to her filmmaking with a style that consciously raises social awareness and leaves audiences to question big issues such as homelessness, identity in a foreign land and even animal rights. Her approach is also informed by her training as a dancer, resulting in a multidisciplinary approach that brings out interesting avenues in her work that cannot be neatly encapsulated. Finally, Jillian Mayer, of Borscht fame, plays with the alternative realities that we create for ourselves and others on the web. Her projects are playful and DIY at first glance but charged with awareness of the pitfalls and disinformation in the digital world. For Mayer, the construction of culture in the Internet is another form of discourse that may be changing the way identity is constructed and understood.

Ana Morgenstern

The Miami Beach Cineamtheque begins showing the films by these local filmmakers starting this Friday, Oct. 16. For a detailed schedule, follow this link. It culminates in a discussion with the filmmakers, also including directors Carla Forte (read her profile here), Jillian Mayer (read her profile here) and Filmmaker Magazine Editor in Chief Scott Macaulay. This profile series continues tomorrow with a piece on Peña.

You can also read more about these filmmakers and their retrospective in an article in the Miami New Times by jumping over to the alternative weekly’s art and culture blog through the image below:

NT Arts

(Copyright 2015 by Ana Morgenstern. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.)

Jillian Mayer Art Basel Miami Beach 2014This month, The Miami Beach Cinematheque will hold its seventh installment of its Knight Foundation sponsored discussion series called Speaking In Cinema. Usually, the bi-monthly event features a local film critic, an out-of-town film critic and a guest filmmaker (this writer was one of the first guest critics). This time they are bringing together three Miami-based filmmakers for a very special installment of the series, and this is the first in what will be a series of interviews with the three filmmakers, who are all showing films in a retrospective series leading up to their talk. Meet Jillian Mayer.

She stumbled into film-making after graduating from Florida International University with a concentration in installation art and fiber in 2007. Her multi-media art has since gone on to garner her attention across the world, everywhere from art galleries to film festivals. Movie making has now become an indelible part of her repertoire. Asked for her inspiration in film, she chooses to go to the medium itself instead of a specific director. “Filmmaking offers me many things,” Mayer writes via email. “I love that the product is also the documentation. Artists are challenged with art making and then archiving the work, but video/film making joins those two concerns. I also like how media travels over the Internet. Also, it is a great format for me to combine so many mediums I enjoy in my art making such as performance, music, sculpture and installation.”

In 2012, she and her frequent collaborative partner, co-director Lucas Leyva were featured in Filmmaker Magazine’s “25 New Faces of Independent Film.” The editor in chief of Filmmaker Magazine, Scott Macaulay, will be in Miami to host the conversation at the Miami Beach Cinematheque with Mayer, Carla Forte (Miami Filmmaker Carla Forte on shooting hundreds of dogs in action and her impromptu poem on inspiration) and Monica Peña (Storytelling through collaboration – Director Monica Peña discusses filmmaking and upcoming Speaking in Cinema panel). “In 2012, Jillian Mayer and Lucas Leyva were two of the most inventive film artists around, and that hasn’t changed in 2015,” Macaulay says via email. “In fact, I’ve only seen their impact grow as more people become aware of the very original and Miami-centric work they are doing at Borscht. I’ve recently had the chance to see the beginnings of some of their newest work, and I’m every more excited about the waves they are going to create.”

The year Leyva and Mayer made Filmmaker Magazine’s list, the duo released a striking short film called “#Postmodem,” which had its world premiere at the 2012 Borscht Film Festival before going on to Sundance and the New York Film Festival. It’s a rather ingenious work that taps into existentialist concerns in the age of the Internet. In an interview I wrote for Miami New Times last year, both shared their interest in the work of the futurist philosopher Ray Kurzweil. Their concerns for memory, persona and legacy were given vivid life with their funny, brilliant and sometimes poignant short featuring an incredibly catchy musical number recalling ’80s freestyle music Mayer co-wrote with Michael John Hancock (of Viigo). You can watch the short in its entirety below. From little kids talking about their inevitable demise to a swing set in the clouds, this short will blow your mind.

As for now, Mayer is prepping for several exhibitions in 2016 that include LAX ART in Los Angeles, David Castillo Gallery here in Miami Beach, and Art Space in Raleigh North Carolina. So keep an eye on those spaces. As for recent shoots, Mayer reveals that what was once her initial pitch to Borscht, “a faux talk show for people and their pets” is coming to fruition. “Lucas Leyva and I just shot a pilot show about a fun fake animal talk show with support from an incubator we are in with Time Warner called 150,” she says.

Finally, Leyva and Mayer are also in the middle of production on their first feature film, a movie inspired by Japanese Kaiju that somehow explores the filmmakers’ Cuban-American identities. They are working with some members of the visual effects crew behind Beasts of the Southern Wild. “About four weeks ago, we shot the prologue to the film at Miami Theatre Center,” she reveals, “which starred two Japanese Bonraku theatre puppets. Next part of the production will take place in various towns of Cuba, and the final segment will take place in Miami.”

Hans Morgenstern

The Miami Beach Cineamtheque begins showing the films by these local filmmakers starting this Friday, Oct. 16. For a detailed schedule, follow this link. It culminates in a discussion with the filmmakers, also including directors Carla Forte (read her profile here) and Monica Peña (read her profile here), and Filmmaker Magazine Editor in Chief Scott Macaulay. This profile series continues tomorrow with a piece on Peña.

You can also read more about these filmmakers and their retrospective in an article in the Miami New Times by jumping over to the alternative weekly’s art and culture blog through the image below:

NT Arts

(Copyright 2015 by Hans Morgenstern. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.)

TALES OF HALLOWEEN POSTERJust in time to warm up South Florida for Halloween, comes the Popcorn Frights Film Festival. It marks the region’s first film festival dedicated to the horror film genre. All movies will be Florida premieres. It will take place from Oct. 1 through Oct. 4, and all screenings are at 11 p.m. and feature shorts, creating a grindhouse kind of experience for every screening. Some films feature big names from the horror genre, from directors like Neil Marshall (The Descent) to actors like Kurt Russell.

The festival was put together by two experts of the film programming scene, Miami Jewish Film Festival executive director Igor Shteyrenberg and Marc Ferman, a local film critic and host of many vintage movie screenings at Popcorn Nights at Miami’s O Cinema. The festival will unfold at O Cinema’s Wynwood location. The line-up, which appropriately kicks off with an omnibus of horror shorts called Tales of Halloween, was announced this morning. We were given permission to share their press release below, which reveals the full line-up, schedule and ticket details with some handy links.

For immediate release Monday, August 10, 2015

MIAMI, FL – Horror fans will soon rejoice as South Florida’s first and only genre film festival, the Popcorn Frights Film Festival, launches October 1-4, 2015 at the O Cinema Wynwood, premiering four acclaimed and highly anticipated international films, and an additional six shorts. “We’re thrilled to present such an array of cool, twisted, beautiful, mind-bending, horrifying, and hilarious films for our inaugural genre festival,” said Co-Founders & Co-Directors Igor Shteyrenberg & Marc Ferman. “We scoured the globe for the freshest and craziest films to present for our community of film lovers, and this first incredible selection of films just gives a small taste of the fun that will be in store as our Festival grows in future editions.”

The program for the first annual Popcorn Frights Film Festival is a fearsome feast filled with vampires, werewolves, psycho slashers, cannibals, and all the sinister things that go bump in the night. Opening Night will see the Florida Premiere of Tales of Halloween, an anthology film featuring shorts by the likes of Neil Marshall (The Descent), Luck McKee (May), and Darren Lynn Bousman (Saw II), while the closing night highlight will be Bone Tomahawk, starring Kurt Russsell, Matthew Fox, Patrick Wilson, David Arquette, and Sid Haig in a horrific Western about how the west was truly won…against savage cannibals!

Other buzzy entries in the lineup include the Florida Premieres of Howl, An American Werewolf in London-inspired creature feature, and the genre-bending supernatural shocker Diabolical, starring Ali Larter (Final Destination, Heroes). In addition to these feature films, the Festival will also present six award-winning short films as part of its official program, notably “The Night of the Slasher,” a remarkable shot-in-one-take short with nods to the slasher genre’s roots, and the eerie stop motion animated film “The Shutterbug Man,” which features a voice over narration by the queen of horror Barbara Steele.


The Festival’s Opening Night on Thursday, October 1st will kick-off with an under the stars courtyard reception courtesy of Pollo Tropical. The reception will be exclusive to the Festival’s Badge Holders. LOCATION: All films will screen at 11pm at the O Cinema Wynwood (90 NW 29th Street).

TICKET SALES: Festival Premiere Badges are on sale for a limited time for $45, and single screening tickets are available for $12. To purchase badges or tickets and view the Festival schedule, visit MORE INFORMATION: Follow the Popcorn Frights Film Festival on Facebook (/popcornfrights) or Twitter (@popcornfrights) for updates with the latest information about the Festival. Join the conversation using the hashtag #popcornfrights on social media.

October 1st
TALES OF HALLOWEEN, Florida Premiere Directed by Darren Lynn Bousman, Axelle Carolyn, Adam Gierasch, Andrew Kasch, Neil Marshall, Lucky McKee, Mike Mendez, Dave Parker, Ryan Schifrin, John Skipp, Paul Solet

US | 92 minutes | 2015

Ten tales of terror unfold in a sleepy suburb on All Hallows Eve as ghouls, imps, aliens, goblins, demons, axe murders, and serial killers roam the witching hour. Join our celebration of all things Halloween with a host of dreaded nightmares directed by the cream of the scream industry crop.

INVADERS, Florida premiere Directed by Jason Kupfer

US | 7 minutes | 2014

It’s Thanksgiving and two would-be robbers are planning a quick heist. But they might get more than they bargained for.


October 2nd
THE DIABOLICAL, Florida Premiere Directed by Alistair Legrand

US | 86 minutes | 2015

Ali Larter (Final Destination, Heroes) stars in this genre-bending supernatural shocker as a single mother trying to protect her two young children from an increasingly strange and intense presence tormenting their quiet suburban home. Seeking help from her boyfriend, they embark on a hunt to destroy the violent spirit.

THE SHUTTERBUG MAN, Florida Premiere Directed by Chris Walsh

Canada | 5 minutes | 2014

An all-out stop motion horror short that’s heavy on shadows and atmosphere and narrated by the queen of horror Barbara Steele.

HUSH, Florida Premiere Directed by Michael Kehoe

US | 6 minutes | 2015
A young college graduate babysits an 8 year old girl during a terrible storm, only to realize their house is possessed by a malevolent entity.


October 3rd
HOWL, Florida Premiere Directed by Paul Hyett

UK | 95 minutes | 2015

Make-up effects master Paul Hyett (Dog Soldiers, The Descent) creates a lycanthropic horror tale about a group of passengers on a midnight train who find themselves under attack by a terrifying pack of werewolves. As his effects background might imply, Hyett completely eschews CGI beasts and takes a more American Werewolf-inspired practical approach that is unlike anything the silver screen has seen before.

BAD GUY #2, Florida Premiere Directed by Chris McInroy

US | 10 minutes | 2014 This outrageously gory comedy follows a struggling hitman whose upward mobility lands him at the dreaded position of Bad Guy #2 – a prominent but ultimately expendable character in the bad guy pantheon – leaving him no choice but to up his game or die violently at the hands of his emotionally erratic boss. NIGHT OF THE SLASHER, Florida Premiere Directed by Shant Hamassian US | 12 minutes | 2015 Every slasher has rules for selecting his prey. But tonight’s prey might have the upper hand.

BONE TOMAHAWK, Florida Premiere Directed by S. Craig Zahler

US | 95 minutes | 2015 Kurt Russell stars in this character driven and horrific Western about a group of men (including Patrick Wilson, Matthew Fox, and Richard Jenkins) who set out to rescue a local woman and a young deputy who have been kidnapped by a tribe of cannibalistic troglodytes. This is a men-on-a-mission Western full of all the genre staples we love, but with the added joys of brutal horror such that, by the end of the film, you will understand how the west was truly won…against savage cannibals!

CROW HAND!!!, Florida Premiere Directed by Brian Lonano US | 3 minutes | 2014 The title says it all!

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Popcorn Frights Film Festival presents the very best genre films from across the world as it celebrates the art of horror. As the first and only horror/genre festival in South Florida, its mission is to premiere films from emerging and established filmmakers enabling the industry and general audiences to experience the power of storytelling through genre film. The inaugural Popcorn Frights Film Festival will occur October 1-4, 2015.

Hans Morgenstern

(Copyright 2015 by Hans Morgenstern. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.)

filmgateThere is a local movement slowly brewing in Miami, one that holds a promise to create a strong film scene. The film community in South Florida has been growing, from incredible cinema art houses to more offerings throughout the year at galleries, museums and even a film program at Art Basel. Indeed, Miami is shaping up to be a welcoming space for film lovers, enriched by organizations like FilmGate Miami, which is not only a welcomed addition to the Miami film scene, but it also puts forth an innovative take on what a film festival should be.

I recently sat down with Executive Director Diliana Alexander, who along with Jose Jacho, have brought this organization to life from an idea. “We started doing the immersive film festival collaboratively,” she says. “I convinced Jose that the interactive element would be interesting for everyone. He brought a democratic element to the process.”

The organization came out of a process of doing, like Indie Film Club Miami, the previous iteration of the organization, which programmed workshops for filmmakers after seeing the need for that during local film festivals. Alexander and Jacho have an inventive and collaborative approach to most of their programs. The organization, which was only recently formalized, came out of a series of programmatic activities that started at a grassroots level and centered on a passion for storytelling and the craft of making films.


FilmGate’s interactive film festival, now heading into its third year, was one of the first programs of the organization. It attracts aspiring filmmakers not just from South Florida but from around the globe. It is “hard to describe,” according to Alexander. It exists in an experimental space where the organization has found its footing, opening the creative process to audiences and adding lots of technological advances in the process. “I looked around in Miami and saw that no one was really doing this,” says Alexander of the immersive interactive transmedia experience that is FilmGate Miami’s annual festival.

The interactive/multimedia storytelling approach, which is more widespread in Canada, where Alexander grew up, has been in use through several productions by the National Film Board of Canada. But it is one of the concepts that Alexander and Jacho wanted for Miami. An exciting aspect of the interactive narrative in multi-platform storytelling is the audience’s ability to participate in the creative process, which could be a nightmare for a curator, but not so for FilmGate. “The audience wants to be a co-creator,” says Alexander, “they want to be more interactive. You can get them to really interact and create interesting stories that live on longer than traditional films.”

Depending on the particular project, people can be part of the process via social media or other forms of participation like choose-your-own-adventure, for example. The festival is also very aware of the environment, which affects people in all walks of life. “I felt that if we were going to start a festival,” says Jacho of his experience with the festival, “it should have an eye on environmental issues and social causes. As it turns out one of the most engaging stories being told through interactive means have been documentaries.”

Lost children

Before you conjure up images of strange, incomprehensible art-house films or overly serious documentaries, the list of local short films is much wider and diverse than a niche of friends. Recent showings of NOLA – short for “Not Going to Move to L.A.” — have included filmmakers from the Keys, Orlando, Northern Florida and our own Miami. Their approach is inclusive, every NOLA we at IndieEthos have attended feels like a backyard party, complete with a juried competition of films showcased (full disclosure: both of us have had a turn), an audience competition that includes fuzzy balls to throw at filmmakers (yes, fuzzy balls, that is not a typo), and a live band after the local films’ showcase.


FilmGate is like the hip, younger new kid on the film scene, experimenting with interactive storytelling and bringing StoryCode to Miami — originally the program started in New York City. The idea behind StoryCode is “to connect the tech community to the film-making community to make sure that ideas conceived by filmmakers can be done within specific technical guidelines,” explains Alexander.

With growing investments in Miami making it a sort of tropical Silicon Valley, the idea of engaging with this growing sector is a timely one. It is also the engine behind some of the creatives at FilmGate. “The most exciting and fulfilling part of FilmGate is getting storytellers to re-imagine their stories using new media,” says Jacho. All these projects have something in common. They are the core of what makes FilmGate stand out in South Florida, marrying technological advances with traditional storytelling and in doing so bringing a fresh outlook to the film scene.

One of the latest initiatives by FilmGate is the Percolator, a multidisciplinary gathering of creatives around coffee with the goal of creating and collaborating in storytelling. Alexander’s voice brightens up when she talks about what a good day at FilmGate is like. “When I know that everything is possible, and that we can completely conceive something that never existed, it makes me excited for the day,” she declares. That is the ethos of the organization, which has an approachable style but is serious about making a space to connect filmmakers. I must confess, it is the community-building aspect that I appreciate the most about FilmGate; being a resident of the Miami tropics for over 10 years and counting myself a cinephile for most of my life, I have dreamt of catching indies not only during those two glorious weeks in March when the Miami International Film Festival is in full swing but throughout the year.


Ana Morgenstern

Related links:

For details on “Not Gonna Move to L.A.”

Interactive Tech Playground

Last year’s FilmGate Interactive Festival

Submissions are open for FilmGate Interactive 2016

(Copyright 2015 by Ana Morgenstern. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.)