Miami Gay and Lesbian Film Festival Turns 16, 20 Countries are Coming to the Party

"The Way He Looks" opens the Festival on May 2 at 8 p.m. at the Colony Theatre.
Celebrate the Miami Gay and Lesbian Film Festival's Sweet 16 starting Friday, May 2, with its opening night feature, The Way He Looks, at the Colony Theatre in South Beach.

MGLFF is one of the largest LGBT film festivals around, and this year's line up proves it. Featuring 64 films from around the world, MGLFF 2014 is kicking off film festival season in a big way.

Presented by HBO, HBO Latino, and Miami-Dade County, the festival is known for presenting world, North America, and United States premieres. This year will be no different. Expect an eclectic round up of short films and feature-length movies from 20 different countries.

Interim executive director Mark Gilbert says, "We've got filmmakers and actors flying in from around the world to meet our audiences and talk about their craft. Our parties will be over-the-top affairs as only Miami knows how to throw a party. Sixteen is going to be stellar for the Miami Gay and Lesbian Film Festival."

See also: Five Simple Suggestions For Surviving Miami Beach Gay Pride

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Miami International Film Festival: Web Junkie Offers Disturbing Look at China's Internet Addiction Camps

Web Junkiw
Most people these days spend the greater part of their waking lives looking and interacting with screens. As devices, apps and software continue to draw us into alternate realities, China stands as the only country in the world to classify internet addiction as a clinical disorder. Does this mean the communist country is actually more progressive than other nations? Web Junkie is a smart documentary that goes beyond technology and dives into familial relations to possibly clarify things a bit.

By remaining as observational as possible, documentary filmmakers Hilla Medalia and Shosh Shlam seem to reveal China may not necessarily being doing things right. Somehow they got their cameras into a rehabilitation camp for young internet addicts that is a cross between a boot camp and insane asylum. Focusing on three boys who never seemed to get enough of on-line games like Warcraft, the filmmakers reveal a stunning picture of disconnect between parents and children and the State's intrusion into child-rearing.

See also: Miami International Film Festival: Web on One Laptop Per Child

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Miami International Film Festival: US Premiere All About the Feathers Exploits the Deadpan Humor You Never Knew Costa Rica Had

All About the Feathers

One of the trickier brands of comedy to pull off is deadpan humor. There's a subtle sense of timing required and actors must deliver immensely sincere performances without going over-the-top. All About the Feathers (Por La Plumas), a little film from Costa Rica achieves this with warm wit that harnesses a quiet pace while indulging in wide, well-composed shots. Often, it recalls early Wes Anderson without being too cute about it.

Chalo (Allan Cascante) is a wiry security guard who makes his baggy uniform look pathetic. He works nights on an unoccupied property and dreams of owning a gamecock. When he finally gets one after insistently asking his landlord to sell him his rooster, he seems a bit clueless but devoted to the bird.

See Also: Miami International Film Festival 2014: Five Must-See Films for the Final Week

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Miami International Film Festival: The Summer of Flying Fish is a Poetic Masterpiece on Land and Class Division

The Summer of Flying Fish

One of the most atmospherically doom-laden works of this year's Miami International Film Festival has to be The Summer of Flying Fish. It's the first feature by Chilean director Marcela Said, whose filmography includes four feature documentaries that date back to 1999. Her documentary work has mostly focused on her home country and reveals an intense social conscience. With her fictional debut, Said still taps into her social awareness of class divisions but submerses it in a sly, low-key drama with a poetic visual narrative.

Francisco (Gregory Cohen), is a rich Chilean landowner vacationing with his family on his farmland at their modern, sprawling home nestled in a luscious forest. He has grown obsessed with eradicating an invasive species of carp from his expansive lagoon. Allusions to his frustration with the Mapuche natives are not coincidental.

See Also: Miami International Film Festival 2014: Five Must-See Films for the Final Week

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Miami International Film Festival 2014: Five Must-See Films for the Final Week

Only Lovers Left Alive
The second and final weekend of the Miami International Film Festival now approaches, and there is still so much to see.

This year has proven especially rich in finely executed cinema, but no sane person can see it all, especially since many screenings overlap (it's no easy task coordinating close to a hundred feature films in 10 days). In fact, some of the films in the list below have already screened.

Thank God for second chances because with the heavy amount of sell-outs this year and the usual tricky schedule made complicated by covering the distances between spread out venues, you're sure not gonna want to miss Florida Film Critics Circle member Hans Morgenstern's picks of five must-see films closing out the final weekend of MIFF 31.

None of these films overlap, so you can theoretically see them all. Give it a shot and remember to buy your tickets early lest you be relegated to the rush line. Fingers crossed you make it in to any of these screenings.

See also: Ectotherms Director Monica Peña Preps Audiences for Her Experimental Film's MIFF World Premiere

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MIFF Goes Completely Digital, Chilean Filmmaker Alberto Fuguet Wants You to Give Up 35mm

Categories: Film Festivals

Photo by Hans Morgenstern
Alberto Fuguet
One of the subtle ways the Miami International Film Festival has reinvented itself for its 31st year is presenting a festival that only projects digitally. There is not a single 35mm film in the festival. It marks a new era in cinematic presentation, and, over the weekend, one of the festival's guests presented a master class on the significance of this move.

Chilean filmmaker/author/film critic Alberto Fuguet held court at the Miami Beach Cinematheque (a local, digital-only art house) Sunday afternoon to a small but passionate bunch of aspiring filmmakers and cinephiles. Nineteen-year-old Diego Vicentini, from Boston College, is studying finance but also dabbles in filmmaking on the side.

"I'm curious about this workshop because it's about the future of film," he said.

See also: Ectotherms Director Monica Peña Preps Audiences for Her Experimental Film's MIFF World Premiere
See also: Five Must-See Films at the Miami International Film Festival This Weekend

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Ectotherms Director Monica Peña Preps Audiences for Her Experimental Film's MIFF World Premiere

During one scene in Monica Peña's debut feature, the cryptically-titled Ectotherms, four young people nestle in the shade between two derelict double-decker buses and bitch about their high school grades. The scene unfolds in an unseen lot in Miami. The surreal presence of buses normally seen on the streets of London is true to a landscape few outside the so-called Magic City hardly see. Of course, those familiar with the city's backyard know where these lorries loom.

Peña has come to the Little Haiti bar responsible for bringing the buses to the area, the British Pub Churchill's Hideaway, to talk her debut feature film. Ectotherms will have its world premiere screening at the Miami International Film Festival Tuesday, March 11. She couldn't be more excited that the city, so quietly the focus of her brilliantly meandering experimental film, is playing host.

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Miami International Film Festival: Club Sandwich Plumbs Awkward Depths of Sexual Awakening

Lucio Giménez Cacho and Danae Reynaud in 'Club Sandwich'

No Hollywood director could get away with pushing the limits of awkward pubescent sexuality quite like Mexican filmmaker Fernando Eimbcke in his latest film, Club Sandwich. Eimbcke goes places beyond cringe-worthy that will feel strikingly real to anyone who's survived that terrible transition phase. He has no shame exploring -- and lingering on -- some of the most banal yet sordid moments many remember but few ever want to recall, and he does it all with a brilliant deadpan sense of humor.

Eimbcke, who was last represented at the Miami International Film Festival in 2005 with his acclaimed Duck Season, also wrote the screenplay for this witty but grounded dramedy. Hip single mother Paloma (María Renée Prudencio) and her roly-poly 15-year-old son, Hector (Lucio Giménez Cacho), wile away the time at a desolate beach resort in the steamy low-season. Hector looks for every opportunity he can to excuse himself from the swimming pool for long bathroom breaks, so as to release his virile fluids. Then he bumps into solitary 16-year-old Jazmin (Danae Reynaud).

See Also: Miami Film Chub Debuts Wednesday at MIFF

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John Turturro Receives Career Tribute Award at Miami International Film Festival

Categories: Film Festivals

Hans Morgenstern
John Turturro and Jaie Laplante
Though seemingly far from over, John Turturro's career received a crowning award from the Miami International Film Festival Sunday night. The beloved character actor and director arrived in Miami to receive his 2014 Career Achievement Award on stage at the Olympia Theater at Gusman Center for the Performing Arts. The night also featured the Miami premiere of his latest directorial effort co-starring Woody Allen, Fading Gigolo.

After MIFF executive director Jaie Laplante offered his praise for both Turturro's acting and directing talents, a montage of his performances and clips from several of his feature films filled the big screen. The scenes played out against gradually swelling, somber orchestral music, but ranged the gamut from the silly (Bumblebee the Autobot "lubricating" Turturro's character from a "crotch hatch" in Transformers) to the soul-stirring (Bernie Bernbaum pleading for his life in Miller's Crossing). There must have been a few "achievers" in attendance, as Turturro's appearance as "the Jesus" from The Big Lebowski received the most applause over any clip in the mix.

See also: Five Must-See Films at the Miami International Film Festival This Weekend

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MDC Confucius Institute and MIFF Bring Chinese Cinema, Film Students Face Off For Place In Shanghai Film Festival

Categories: Film Festivals

Like any good left-leaning, open minded, modern American, when it was announced that the Confucius Institute at Miami-Dade College would be pairing up with the Miami International Film Festival (MIFF), I broke out my changshan, checked to make sure my chi was in balance, and made reservations at my favorite Dim Sum restaurant to celebrate (South Garden on Sunset Drive, if you were wondering).

The Confucius Institute, headquartered in MDC's Wolfson campus, is according to Director Jim Yu, "a three party collaboration between Miami Dade College, our sister sister university in China, Shanghai University, and global organizaiton Confusius Institute Headquarters, located in Beijing." The purpose is to "promote Chinese language and education resources."

Previously, they've been involved with the Miami Book Fair, put on several Chinese festivals around the city, and have arranged nights of visiting Chinese performers. All to improve better Chinese cultural understanding in Miami.

See Also: Five Must-See Films at the Miami International Film Festival This Weekend

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