The Miami International Film Festival (MIFF), presented by Miami Dade College, today announced highlights of its 26th edition, running Friday, March 6 – Sunday, March 15, 2009.
The 137 selections for this year’s Festival represent more than 40 countries. Along with 40 shorts are 97 feature-length films, including four world premieres, 22 North American premieres and 18 U.S. premieres. Of this year’s eight first-time filmmakers, seven are in competition.
A Miami Dade College cultural event, MIFF is the only major film festival housed within an academic institution. This distinctive bond is fused by MDC’s international reputation as a beacon, not only for higher education, but also for culture, and by MIFF’s mission: to bridge cultural understanding; endorse tolerance; and encourage artistic development and excellence within a vigorous academic setting by provoking thought through film.
MIFF’s 26th year marks the first for director, Tiziana Finzi. As much film business visionary as veteran, Finzi brings more than 20 years of top international film festival programming and coordination experience to MIFF.
Finzi’s curriculum vitae reads like a list of the world’s most prestigious film festivals. During her nine-year tenure with Switzerland’s acclaimed Locarno Film Festival, where she was head of programming and deputy director, Finzi led an artistic renaissance, expanding its esteemed programming to include new categories highlighting contemporary filmmakers, video and visual arts. She’s also held top programming posts at the renowned Venice Film Festival, and Pesaro and Taormina film festivals. Rounding out her programming experience, Finzi has curated, and consulted on, the visual arts for several international film festivals and institutions, among them: Italia Cinema and the Trieste Film Festival.
Especially drawn to visual and experimental art, architecture and, of course, cinema, Finzi’s wide-spanning passion for the arts and Miami’s thriving cultural scene are a perfect pair. Mutually supportive and inspiring, this richly infuses MIFF’s 2009 program, and will propel both Finzi’s, and the Festival’s, continued evolution.
Among many of her special touches to this year’s Festival: the program’s inclusion of both contemporary and historical cinema from around the globe; Hollywood glamour; discussions about current topics affecting the film industry; and an authentic international vibe, felt in the showcase of emerging, and established, filmmakers, acting talent and artists from every country imaginable.
Finzi’s collective experience especially shines in Cutting the Edge, this year’s new competition category, which she created in collaboration with colleague, Juan Carlos Zaldivar. A multi-disciplinary artist and film festival programming expert, Zaldivar is also a filmmaker. Most-notably, he co-directed, with David O. Russell and Tricia Regan, the highly controversial 2004 anti-Iraq war short documentary, SOLDIERS PAY.
Cutting the Edge is an exciting presentation of audio-visual experimentation, surpassing cutting-edge notions. In its first edition, this program showcases provoking, and sometimes extreme, works that stand at the crossroads of video and art disciplines of every kind. The category’s selections add a new multimedia element to the traditional Festival movie theater experience, and at the same time celebrate one of Miami’s best-known and loved distinctions: its innovative up-and-coming arts scene, which is increasingly considered among the most significant, internationally.
Some of the filmmaking talent possibly scheduled to appear include Valentino Garavani – Valentino: The Last Emperor, Paul Kalbrenner – Berlin Calling, Andy Garcia – Cachao Uno Mas, Abel Ferrara – Chelsea on the Rocks, Willem Dafoe – Chelsea on the Rocks, Elsa Pataky – Mancora, Adrien Brody – Mancora, Daniel Burman – Empty Nest, Alejandro Sanz – Handless Trick, Clive Russell – Lecture 21, John Hurt – Lecture 21, Noah Taylor – Lecture 21, Dennis Hopper – Chelsea on the Rocks, Grace Jones – Chelsea on the Rocks.
For complete schedule information visit www.MiamiFilmFestival.com.