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Prize Winners at the Miami International Film Festival

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The 25th edition of the Miami International Film Festival concluded its twelve day marathon with the announcement of the Knight Grand Jury Awards on Saturday evening, 8 March. The Awards, which are endowed by the Knight Foundation, carry with them a US $25,000 cash prize, one of the highest on the film festival circuit.

While the Festival does showcase a wide array of films from all over the world, the main focus of the event are films from Latin America, Spain and Portugal. Considering Miami’s population and its reputation as a bridge to the Spanish and Portuguese-speaking worlds, the Festival has expanded its unique position among US-based film events. Not only are more than half of the films from Ibero-America, but the accompanying Miami Encuentros initiative showcases nine projects in development from Spanish and Latin American filmmakers with introductions to American and European distributors, agents and financiers. Spain, in particular, has been an active co-production partner for many of the films presented over the past five years in this unique market sidebar.

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At the Gala Awards Ceremony held at the historic Spanish rococo Gusman Center for the Performing Arts, several European films walked away with top prizes. The winner of the Knight Grand Jury Prize in the World Cinema Competition was Tricks (Sztuczki) [+see also:
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interview: Andrzej Jakimowski
interview: Tomasz Gąssowski
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by Polish director Andrzej Jakimowski. The film, a bittersweet story about a fatherless boy who tries to tempt fate, has already won several awards on the international film festival circuit, including the FIPRESCI International Critics Prize at the Bratislava International Film Festival, the Special Jury Award at the São Paulo International Film Festival, Best Actor Award (for Damian Ul) at the Tokyo International Film Festival and the Label Europa Cinemas Award and Laterna Magica Prize at the Venice Film Festival.

In the World Cinema Competition, the Bosnian film It’s Hard To Be Nice (Tesko je biti fin) won a Special Mention. In director Srdan Vuletic’s urban fairytale about post-war society from Bosnia follows a Sarajevo taxi driver whose attempts to change his life for the better are met with resistance at all turns.

In the Ibero-American Dramatic Features Competition, a Haitian/French co-production Eat, For This Is My Body by director Michelange Quay shared the top award (with a Mexican film). This debut feature explores the spiritual corrosion of Haiti’s colonialist legacy with surreal, often wordless imagery. The film is screening this month at New York’s prestigious New Directors/New Films festival at the Museum of Modern Art.

The Turkish film Bliss (Mutluluk) won the Audience Award in the World Cinema Competition. Abdullah Oguz’s intense and beautifully rendered drama boasts stellar performances and a compelling musical score and stunning images of the Sea of Marmara. The film won almost all the top prizes at the Antalya Golden Orange Film Festival in its native Turkey, as well as the Special Jury Prize at the Kerala International Film Festival and the Audience Award at the Montpellier Mediterranean Film Festival.

Following the Gala Awards Ceremony, the Festival offered the pleasure of the Closing Night Film, La sconosciuta (The Unknown Woman) [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
by Oscar-winning Italian director Guiseppe Tornatore (Cinema Paradiso). The film, a suspenseful thriller, has been a great box office success in its native Italy and throughout Europe. It won the Audience Award at the European Film Awards and was a major winner at the David di Donatello Awards (the Italian Oscars), winning awards as Best Film, Best Director, Best Actress, Best Cinematography and Best Music.

Other major European films in competition sections that were showcased at the Festival include: Katyn (Andrjez Wajda, Poland), Flawless (Michael Radford, UK), Mongol (Sergei Bodrov, Kazakhstan/Russia), Fados (Carlos Saura), Mataharis (Iciar Bollain, Spain), Run Fat Boy, Run (David Schwimmer, UK), Blind (Tamar van den Dop, The Netherlands), Darling (Christine Carriere, France), Horror Which Is Always With You (Arkadiy Yaknis, Russia), Konyec (Gabor Rohonyi, Hungary), Unrelated (Joanna Hogg, UK), Bajo las estrellas (Felix Viscarret, Spain), Divorce Albanian Style (Adela Peeva, Bulgaria), Hippie Masala (Ulrich Grossenbacher and Damaris Luthi, Switzerland), and Trader’s Dreams (Marcus Vetter and Stefan Tolz, Germany).

European films screening out of competition in the International Panorama section included: Am Ende kommen Touristen (And Along Come Tourists, Robet Thalheim, Germany), Boarding Gate (Olivier Assayas, France), California Dreamin’ (Critian Nemescu, Romania), Empties (Jan Sverak, Czech Republic), Exodus (Penny Woolcock, UK), Mio fratello e un figlio unico (My Brother Is An Only Child, Daniele Luchetti, Italy), La graine et le mulet (Abdel Kechiche, France), Whene Didi You Last See Your Father (Anand Tucker, UK), Barcelona (Ventura Pons, Spain), Casual Day (Max Lemcke, Spain), Invisibles (Isabel Coixet, Wim Wenders, Fernando Leon de Aranoa, Mariano Barroso, Javier Corcuera, Spain), El Rey de la Montana (King of the Hill, Gonzalo Lopez Gallego, Spain), Yo (Me, Rafa Corte, Spain), Miguel & William (Ines Paris, Spain/UK) and Izaline Calister – Lady Sings The Tambu (Miluska Rosalina, The Netherlands).

By Sandy Mandelberger, European Editor

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