Lights, Camera, Action! Miami Film Festival Returns

Tomas Curcio, Staff Writer

From March 4 to 13, the Miami International Film Festival returned via a hybrid format, with both virtual and in-theater viewings. The world-renowned film festival celebrates its 39th anniversary after its first physical cancellation last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The festival’s unique focus on both the Miami culture and South American films places it in a unique position among other American film festivals that tend to have a broader focus, such as the larger Sundance festival. The festival showcases films alongside presentations and Q&As with creators and special guests before and after showings.

The Film Society of Miami began the Miami Film Festival in Feb. 1984 handing control over to the City of Miami. Florida International University took control of the festival in 1999, due to the City of Miami claiming bankruptcy. However, since 2003, Miami Dade College has taken charge of the event, moving it — in 2006 — to begin on the first Friday of March.

The film festival screened at multiple locations throughout the city, such as Silverspot Cinema, the Adrienne Arsht Center and Bal Harbour. 

The film festival also awards prizes to the best films shown. A jury granted “Freda,” a Haitian film about a female student deciding whether to stay in her home country of Haiti or leave for elsewhere, with the $25,000 Knight MARIMBAS award, the top award for feature films.

A jury gave another award, the $55,000 Knight Made in MIA Film Award, to three filmographers who filmed most of their content in South Florida. The films awarded include: “You Can Always Come Home,” which won $30,000, “In Beauty It Is Unfinished,” which won $15,000 and “Un Pequeño Corte,” which won $10,000.

The festival announced these recipients at a Tropical Disco! Awards Night Party hosted at Freedom Tower — one of the festival’s traditions. The festival also hosted Afterhours sessions where moviegoers could mingle with festival executives and filmmakers into the night.

Since 2014, the Miami Film Festival has also hosted the Gems Film Festival, which runs from Nov. 4 to 10 and showcases films from the fall season.