Catch MIFF Director Jaie Laplante's Favorite Picks, Tickets on Sale

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Europe In 8 Bits
Though the Miami International Film Festival's opening night is still a month away, today's the day that probably makes festival director Jaie Laplante most restless: the day tickets go on sale to members.

"I'm anxious to see how they respond to the program," he said speaking via phone, earlier this week, "what films they enjoy the most. I have my favorites, and I have those films that I feel very protective and loving towards. I'm anxious to see if people respond the same way. It's kind of always an interesting process to put out the program, and you may have in your head what you think people will respond to, and they always surprise me."

Surprise is an important part of the festival this year. Laplante has already noted the 31st year means a fresh start to make new memories for anniversaries to come. His method to programming this year, he says, was to shake things up.

"The last thing that we wanted people to feel about Miami International Film Festival is that you kind of knew what to expect," he noted, "like, you're going to see great films with great directors. That's really good. It's a fantastic way to build a festival, but there's so much more to surprise people with. We brought on a new programmer this year. It certainly energized a lot of our selections."

See also: Miami International Film Festival Announces Full 2014 Lineup

More surprises keep coming with 11th-hour additions. At a press conference last Tuesday, there was a major last-minute addition: War Story, starring Catherine Keener and Ben Kingsley. Since then, Laplante has added three more films to the line-up.

"They were too good to pass up," he explained. The films include the first English-language feature by Spanish director Nacho Vigalondo, and Open Windows, starring Elijah Wood and Sasha Grey. "It's terrific," noted Laplante. "It's so, so cool. I thought about it for days after I saw it, and I only saw a rough cut. It didn't even have all the special effects in it."

See also: Miami International Film Festival's 2014 Lineup Features Tilda Swinton, Tom Hiddleston, Jesse Eisenberg

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Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon
Other memorable films include An Unbreakable Bond, a documentary directed and produced by Emilio Estefan about the story of Marc Buoniconti, the son of famed Miami Dolphins linebacker Nick Buoniconti, who became paraplegic after a football injury at the age of 19. He was the inspiration behind the Miami Project, which leads the charge in research to find a cure for paralysis. Emilio's wife Gloria Estefan narrates.

"The third film is a world premiere from an actor turned director named John Stockwell called Kid Cannabis, which has got a lot of energy," noted Laplante. "I describe it as a cross between Stand By Me and Scarface."

That brings the total amount of features at this year's MIFF to 97. Besides big names like those mentioned above, when asked about competition films, Laplante chose to highlight the Knight Documentary Competition.

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