Miami International Film Festival Announces 2015 Lineup

Courtesy of Miami International Film Festival
Tuesday at the recently renovated Tower Theater on Calle Ocho, Miami Dade College's Miami International Film Festival (MIFF) announced the lineup for its 32nd edition.

Running from March 6 to 15, with screenings at seven theaters throughout Miami-Dade County, MIFF will exhibit 125 films from 40 countries. They include 94 features and documentaries, 18 shorts, 11 student films, and two works in progress.

As the only major film festival worldwide produced by a college or university, MIFF honors the Miami community as much as promotes its diverse international programming. Standing in front of posters propped up on easels at the front of the theater, MIFF Executive Director Jaie Laplante called upon local filmmakers and directors in the audience to come up and introduce themselves and their nine works that will be screened.

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Miami Jewish Film Festival Presents Avant-Garde Film by Bill Morrison and Michael Gordon

Courtesy of Hypnotic Films
A still image from All Vows.
This Tuesday, the Miami Jewish Film Festival will feature a series of experimental, avant-garde films by two of contemporary movie-making's greats. Bill Morrison and his regular collaborator composer, Michael Gordon, will appear for an evening of seven short films, conversation, and live music at the Miami Beach Cinematheque.

Morrision and Gordon will discuss both their old and new works. The two are probably best known for Decasia, a 70-minute film from 2003 made from early silent films in various states of decay. The images on damaged and/or neglected, highly combustible nitrate film were altered only by their natural decay over time. The decay turned human figures ghostly by adding halos or simply rendering them abstract blotches. Morrison didn't manipulate or tamper with the images; he simply recontextualized the old film by editing it to Gordon's brooding, minimalist music. The result is a transcendental if abstract meditation on the ephemeral quality of film and, by extension, life.

See also: Films to Check Out at the Miami Jewish Film Festival 2015

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Miami Filmmaker Kenny Riches on His Selection to Sundance

Meatball in The Strongest Man.
When Miami-based filmmaker Kenny Riches got the call from the Sundance Film Festival, he could barely hide his excitement from close friend Robert "Meatball" Lorie. Riches' film, The Strongest Man, had been accepted and Lorie was the film's lead. They were both working on building the VIP section at Design Miami when Riches' cell phone rang. "It's hard because when you get the call you're really not supposed to tell anyone for a few weeks because they don't announce it publicly for a while," he said.

He had to finish working the rest of the day and kept the news to himself until the festival made it official. "It was crazy," he added.

See also: Films to Check Out at the Miami Jewish Film Festival 2015

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Films to Check Out at the Miami Jewish Film Festival 2015

We've already written about our excitement over the films at the Miami Jewish Film Festival and interviewed festival director Igor Shteyrenberg, but we haven't had a chance to talk about what we're looking forward to, as well as what we've checked out and loved. With MJFF already underway, it's about time we go over the festival highlights and what screenings are left to check out.

See also: Lacey Schwartz Discusses Autobiographical Film Little White Lie

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Miami International Science Fiction Festival Offers Out-Of-This-World Fun for Nerds of All Kinds

Categories: Film Festivals

Every great scientist was once a kid, and every kid, as it turns out, is really a great scientist.

"When you're young, you know how to explore, innovate and investigate," says FAU doctoral student and geologist Troy Berner. "As children, we're born with these instincts, and it's society that abandons them as we get older."

Generations of kids who hate science class have led the so-called "brain-drain" of the U.S, but how do you make science sexy? That's easy - give the kids science fiction.

Bernier grew up in the sci-fi glory days of Star Wars and Star Trek, and it had a direct effect on his chosen career path. He wants to share his love for fantastic films and scientific research with audiences young and old, and therefor, he invites all of Miami to the second-annual MiSciFi Fantastic Film Festival Friday, January 23, to Sunday, January 25.

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Miami Jewish Film Festival: Havana Curveball Films Cuba Through Child's Eyes

Categories: Film Festivals

Mica Jarmel-Schneider in 'Havana Curveball'

How quickly things have changed in Cuba. After President Obama's declaration of "normalized" relations between the U.S. and Cuba, Marcia Jarmel and Ken Schneider's documentary Havana Curveball already captures what is, perhaps, a different Cuba. The new policy would have certainly made the mission of 13-year-old Mica Jarmel-Schneider a little easier.

The documentary, directed by Mica's parents, Jarmel and Schneider, the 13-year-old Giants fan and Little Leaguer spends a lot of time figuring out how to donate baseball equipment from his home in San Francisco. As a child, Mica's grandfather escaped Hitler's reach in Vienna and found temporary home in Cuba. Mica felt the need to pay something back to Cuba. Particularly as a huge baseball fan, Mica wanted to reach out to the Communist nation, to build a bridge using a shared love of baseball.

See also: Igor Shteyrenberg on Miami Jewish Film Festival 2015 and Its Limitless Possibilities

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Lacey Schwartz Discusses Autobiographical Film Little White Lie

Categories: Film Festivals

Imagine living the first portion of your life as someone who identifies as something completely different than who you are, simply because your family insists they were that type of person. In a way, this is Lacey Schwartz's story and her documentary Little White Lie shows just that. Schwartz, who now is comfortable in her identity as both a black and Jewish woman, spent a large portion of her life believing she was white.

Little White Lie, presents the chronicle of Schwartz's coming-to-terms with her identity and her family's secrets. It's a smart and tightly-edited documentary drawn with narration, home videos, and interviews. It's her parents' story as much as it's hers and Schwartz doesn't shy away from hard truths. It's the kind of film that is immensely draining, yet prompts one to wonder just how cathartic an experience telling your story must be.

When asked about the feeling of being able to share such a personal narrative, Schwartz responded by saying, "Yeah. I think that it comes from kind of being finished with it. And I think sort of my anxiety, not about making the film, but about choices in general, was the expectation of the confrontation and the fear of what the outcome of the confrontation might be."

See also: The Best Female-Directed Films of 2014

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Igor Shteyrenberg on Miami Jewish Film Festival 2015 and Its Limitless Possibilities

With the Miami Jewish Film Festival opening January 15, buzz just keeps growing. Some screenings have already sold out, a talented group of filmmakers is getting ready to visit, and the lineup of films is as diverse as ever before. Even though it's been around for 18 years, it's astounding what director Igor Shteyrenberg has done in only his second year running what some would consider a niche festival.

"Over the past two years, we've shared a selection of films that highlight both the creativity and unique ways artists are using to tell stories and the impact these stories can have on a community. This year is no exception," Shteyrenberg says confidently.

Though last year's festival had its fair share of interesting events, "one look at the breadth of this year's program confirms that the festival is even more crucial today," he says. "We've striven to curate around salient themes and topics, and provide each audience member with the opportunity to discover, contemplate, and, in a way, determine, our shared human journey."

See also: Miami Jewish Film Festival Announces 2015 Lineup

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Borscht 2014: Filmmakers Lucas Levya and Jillian Mayer on Cool as Ice 2

Still from "Cool as Ice 2"
The most distinctive feature of the filmmaking team of Lucas Leyva and Jillian Mayer is the bags under their eyes. It's one day before the first night of Borscht9, a film and visual arts festival Leyva co-founded with kindred spirits at New World School of the Arts back in 2004.

Leyva admits he has been sneaking in bedtime from 6 a.m. to 9.30 a.m. Instead of an alarm clock, he's pulled from his slumber with the chimes of text messages and email in-box arrivals. He's often in such a haze of semi-consciousness that he dreams he answered emails, but it's just a dream and not reality. Mayer excuses herself if she picks up her cell phone to respond to text messages, her team is in the middle of making stages and backdrops for "The Multiverse," an interactive evening of Borscht films, video games and more at the YoungArts campus.

See also: Borscht Film Festival 2014: Ten Must-See Films

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Papa Machete, Part of Borscht 2014, Screens Today

Compliments of Third Horizon Media
Jason Fitzroy Jeffers is no stranger to South Florida. Both musician and journalist, he's made an impact on this and many local publications. With a recent focus shift turning to filmmaking, Jeffers' first official production, Papa Machete has been picking up momentum and earning accolades from film circles.

"You and I have talked in the past about my machete obsession. I've always mythologized it in my own mind as the Excalibur of the third world, a symbol of determination and self-fortification yet to be fully realized. Back home in Barbados, we call it a cutlass or a 'collins' -- it's practically the pocketknife of the Caribbean," Jeffers told us in an interview back in August when the short film was picked for the Toronto International Film Festival's inaugural section of short works.

The short film concentrates on the life of aging Jacmel farmer Alfred Avril and his status as the last master of tire mach├ęt, a martial art combining African stick fighting and European-styled sword parrying.

See also: Jason Fitzroy Jeffers on His Film Papa Machete and the Art of Machete Fencing

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