Published on : Thursday, June 2, 2016
Organizers of the internationally-celebrated Miami Dade College’s Miami Film Festival today opened submissions for Official Selection to its 34th annual season, to include both its fall showcase GEMS, October 13 – 16, and the 34th edition of MFF, March 3 – 12, 2017. Considered the top venue in the U.S. for emerging Ibero-American cinema, MFF seeks the latest works in any genre by debut, emerging and veteran filmmakers for various competition and non-competition categories, including features, documentaries, shorts, experimental cinema and Florida-centric stories.
New for 2017, MFF Director Jaie Laplante unveiled a revamped Jordan Writer’s Award category would now feature a $10,000 cash prize for screenwriters who have a first-produced feature screenplay credit in an eligible feature film. Laplante called on producers and rights holders of new films that would fit the Jordan Writer’s Award category to especially consider submitting their films to MFF this year.
“Any director will tell you the vital need for a well-written screenplay to provide the blueprint for any work of cinema,” said Laplante. “The Jordan Writer’s Award aims to recognize the valuable contributions of writers who are making a new mark in this vital role, and to encourage their continued work in the field.”
Recent winners of the Jordan Writer’s Award include Venezuelan Lorenzo Vigas in 2016, for his script for the Venice Golden Lion winning film From Afar , and Jordanians Naji Abu Nowar and Bassel Ghandour in 2015 for their Oscar-nominated Theeb. The award is sponsored by the family of the late Jordan Alexander Ressler, an aspiring screenwriter who passed away in a tragic accident at the age of 23.
Headlining MFF will be its signature Knight Competition, which presents Achievement Awards totaling $40,000 in cash courtesy of MFF’s long-time, esteemed partner, The John S. & James L. Knight Foundation. Open to all new feature films of any genre directed by filmmakers who have directed at least one Official Selection at a previous edition of MFF, the category’s top prize is to be split equally between the film’s lead production company and the US distributor .
Knight Foundation will continue to sponsor an additional category, the Knight Documentary Achievement Award, which is voted on by the MFF audience, and awards $10,000 to the most popular film. The Miami-based film Queen of Thursdays, about Cuban ballerina Rosario “Charin” Suárez, won the award in 2016, underscoring the Miami audience’s enthusiasm for international-quality local production.
“The Miami Film Festival nurtures our homegrown artists and productions,” said Laplante. “The work continues to mature and the development of a distinctive Miami voice resonates as the films travel through film circles the globe, often after launching at Miami Film Festival.”
MFF especially encourages Florida-based productions to submit their new works, as MFF’s affinity for this work will garner special programming consideration.Also returning is the Lexus Competition for new U.S. Hispanic and Ibero-American feature films of any genre for both veteran and debuting filmmakers. Eligible for a $10,000 cash Achievement Award courtesy of MFF’s Official and Exclusive Automobile Sponsor, Lexus. The 2016 Lexus winner was Argentina’s Paulina by Santiago Mitre.
Lexus will continue to sponsor the ever-popular Lexus Feature Film Audience Award and the Lexus Short Film Audience Award, voted on by MFF ticket buyers. A final juried category is the Grand Jury Short Film Achievement Award, which gives $2,500 cash to the best short eligible for the official competition.
A variety of non-competitive categories, including Cinema 360, a sampling of the finest of international cinema; Florida Focus for non-competing local productions; MIFFecito, MFF’s family-friendly section; and Reel Music, for music-based features and documentaries, are also now open for submissions.
Leading up to MFF will be the organization’s annual fall showcase festival, GEMS 2016, highlighting award winners from top international film festivals such as Sundance, Berlin and Cannes; Oscar-contenders; and international box office sensations. GEMS 2016 will present its annual Gigi Guermont Audience Award to the most popular film of the 4-day festival, as voted on by GEMS ticket buyers. Celebrities and filmmakers who attended previous editions of GEMS include actors and personalities Don Francisco, Kate del Castillo, Guillermo Francella, Rodrigo Santoro, Juan Pablo Raba, Antonia Zegers, and filmmakers Pablo Trapero, Trey Edward Shults, Patricia Riggen, Maria Ripoll, Mariana Chenillo and Ernesto Daranas.