Iconic Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodóvar's "Pain and Glory" starring Antonio Banderas and Penélope Cruz opens Miami Dade College's Miami Film Festival's Gems festival. Also featured is Brazilian filmmaker Fernando Meirelles' "The Two Popes" starring Anthony Hopkins and Jonathan Pryce. The festival runs from Thursday, Oct. 10 to to Sunday, Oct. 13, at MDC's Tower Theater Miami.
Five films in Miami Film Festival's Gems are the first selections of the season to compete for the top award, a $40,000 Knight Marimbas Award. The juried prize is for a film that best exemplifies richness and resonance for cinema's future. The competition will be top-lined by Closing Night selection and recent Cannes Palme d'Or winner "Parasite," from Korean filmmaker Bong Joon-ho, a piercing black comedy of social class divide.
The additional four films announced in the competition are "By the Grace of God" (France, directed by François Ozon), "Clemency" (USA, directed by Chinonye Chukwu), "Portrait of a Lady on Fire" (France, directed by Céline Sciamma) and "Staff Only" (Spain, directed by Neus Ballús).
Three passion projects will receive Spotlight screenings at Gems, beginning with Kore-eda Hirokazu's French-language "The Truth," his first film outside of his native Japan, conceived by Kore-eda as a tribute to the great screen icon Catherine Deneuve.
Miami Film Festival director Jaie Laplante dedicated the Gems screening of "The Truth" to another Kore-eda inspiration, Chinese-American author Ken Liu, whose short story "Memories of My Mother" serves as a key thematic subplot in the film. Liu is additionally credited as an associate producer on "The Truth." The Miami screening of Kore-eda's film will be preceded by David Gaddie's 2017 short "Beautiful Dreamer", an adaptation of the same Liu story featured in The Truth.
The "passion project" Spotlight screenings continue with "Honey Boy," directed by Alma Har'el, written by and starring Shia LaBeouf, based on his own experiences as a child actor and early adult life coping with his divorced father's mental health issues; and "Motherless Brooklyn" from Edward Norton, who wrote, directed and stars in the film, fulfilling a 20-year-drive to adapt Jonathan Lethem's 1999 bestseller to the big screen.
Four films represent the first titles announced for the Festival's season of programming in other major award categories. Competing for the $10,000 Jordan Ressler First Feature Film Award will be French filmmaker Ladj Ly's "Les Misérables" and American filmmaker Carlo Mirabella-Davis' "Swallow." The latter film will be the subject of a post-screening critical discussion with Miami film critics, moderated by Miami Film Festival's Lauren Cohen.
Competing for the Documentary Achievement Award is Alan Berliner's "Letter to the Editor," an epic ode to the free press as represented by personal archives of photographs culled from The New York Times over a 40-year period. The Festival is dedicating its Gems screening of the film to Miami Herald investigative reporter Julie K. Brown, who recently received a George Polk Award for her 2018 series of articles, "Perversion of Justice," on the Jeffrey Epstein case.
Competing for the Ibero-American Feature Film Award will be Spanish filmmaker Dani de la Orden's drama "Litus," featuring an all-star cast of Spanish actors including Quim Gutiérrez, Belén Cuesta, Miquel Fernández, Alex García (a Miami Film Festival favorite from his 2015 visit with the Audience Award-winning Kamikaze), Adrián Lastra, and Marta Nieto.
Two feel-good comedies that have been box office smashes in their home countries complete the balance of the Gems 2019 line-up. Wayne Blair's "Top End Wedding," the top-grossing domestic film of the year in Australia, is a hilarious and touching story in the spirit of his 2012 global hit "The Sapphires"; and "Taxi to Treasure Rock," a Spanish-Argentine production directed by Alejo Flah and starring Dani Rovira, is a road trip comedy that is one of the top four most popular domestic releases in Spain thus far in 2019.
Get tickets and find out more at www.miamifilmfestival.com.