for Miami Herald
129 feature-length and short films will unspool at the 33rd Miami International Film Festival, to be held March 4-13 at various venues around the city.
Organizers of the festival, which is presented by Miami Dade College, unveiled this year’s lineup at a press conference Monday. The slate includes 12 world premieres, 16 North American debuts and 13 U.S. premieres.
▪ The Olive Tree, by two-time Goya-winning actress/director Icíar Bollaín, about a family’s decision to sell a 1,000 year-old olive tree from their village in Eastern Spain to a land developer.
▪ Queen of Thursdays, a documentary portrait of Rosario “Charin” Suárez, the former prima ballerina in the Cuban National Ballet, directed by Tower Theater programmer Orlando Rojas and co-written by Dennis Scholl, former vice president of art for the Knight Foundation.
▪ Hearts of Palm, a love story told through science, literature, and music that invokes Miami’s mystical undercurrents, directed by Miami filmmaker Monica Peña (Ectotherms).
▪ The Rebound, director Shaina Koren’s look at the struggle by the Miami Heat Wheels wheelchair basketball team to reach their first national championship game.
▪ Un caballo llamado Elefante (Elephant: The Horse), director Andrés Waissbluth’s fantasy-adventure inspired by autobiographical tales from the childhood of Chilean musician/composer Lalo Parra and his siblings.
Other movies in the lineup:
▪ The Lobster, a bizarre comedy about a future society where single people are given 45 days to find a romantic partner, starring Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz and Léa Seydoux, directed by the always-provocative Greek filmmaker Yorgos Lanthimos (Dogtooth, Alps).
▪ Weiner, an exploration of the mayoral campaign of disgraced New York Congressman Anthony Weiner, which won the U.S. Documentary Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival in January.
▪ Tale of Tales, a trilogy of surreal, outlandish fantasy fables directed by Matteo Garrone (Gomorrah, Reality) and starring Salma Hayek and Vincent Cassel.
▪ Argentina, Carlos Saura’s latest cinematic celebration of international song and dance, this time focusing on Argentine culture.
▪ Palm Trees in the Snow, a big-budget romantic epic set during the last days of the Spanish colonies in Africa.
▪ Nothing Left Unsaid: Gloria Vanderbilt & Anderson Cooper, a portrait of the relationship between the esteemed artist/fashion designer and her CNN news anchor son, directed by Liz Garbus.
▪ Sunset Song, the coming-of-age story of a Scottish farmer’s daughter in the early 1900s directed by Terence Davies (The Deep Blue Sea, The Long Day Closes).
▪ I’ve Never Not Been from Miami, a collection of 10 short films by Miami filmmakers about Miami artists, 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 festival’s opening night selection is the Spanish comedy My Big Night, about the madcap backstage antics during the taping of a television New Year’s Eve special, directed by wildman Álex de la Iglesia (The Last Circus, Witching and Bitching, Perdita Durango). The legendary pop singer Raphael, who appears in the film, will attend the screening.
The festival closes with The Steps, director Andrew Currie’s comedy about the chaos that ensues after a marriage brings two dysfunctional families together, starring James Brolin, Christine Lahti, Emmanuelle Chriqui and Jason Ritter.
New this year is a “Marquee Series” featuring on-stage conversations by filmmakers as they present their latest work. Monica Bellucci will speak with director Guy Edoin about playing the mother of a gay son in his latest film Ville-Marie. Director Gavin Hood (Tsotsi, Ender’s Game) will unveil Eye in the Sky, starring Helen Mirren, Aaron Paul and the late Alan Rickman about a military officer overseeing a drone operation who is caught in a moral dilemma. Writer-director Deepa Mehta (Water) will discuss her career before a screening of Beeba Boys, about gang warfare in Vancouver.
Returning for a fourth year is the Lee Brian Schrager’s Culinary Cinema program, which consists of four screenings of food-related movies (including My Bakery in Brooklyn and Sweet Bean) paired with meals and wines from area restaurants.
Among this year’s seminars is Making the Leap from Short to Feature Film, moderated by FilmGate Miami’s Diliana Alexander; Producing in Florida and Beyond; and From Doodle to Pixels: Over a Hundred Years of Spanish Animation.