33rd Miami International Film Festival

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It takes several hours to watch the entire slate of film previews for the upcoming 33rd Miami International Film Festival, produced and presented by Miami Dade College. With all due respect, UM gets a whole lotta local love, but it’s always Miami Dade that delivers these major league events for all the denizens of Dade County. From March 4-13, primarily at eight local theaters, MDC’s MIFF will do a lot of filmsplaining.

With so much great film and so many festivals, one might wonder what can be done to keep one of these hundred events from becoming too commonplace. Shall organizers start to tally the number of new directors from Ecuador, or publicize the ages and genders of Afro-Caribbean cinematographers, or assess whether or not the actors in the Lexus Ibero-American Feature Film Competition have resided for a sufficient number of days in a country where Spanish is indeed the primary language? Must there be short films from Madagascar directed by Algerians? Is there a Wim Wenders quota?

This is where expert analysis cries for credit. Director of Programming Jaie Laplante has led our MIFF endeavor since 2010. Orlando Rojas painstakingly programs the films at the Tower. Andres Castillo and Thom Powers also participate in the selection quartet. The Miami Film Society grows and nurtures it. The result? This year, 40 countries will contribute 129 films. That’s a lot of coffee and Cava for the committee.

With this year’s crop of films, unavoidably, you have your kidnapping, your chase scene, your jilted lover, your suffering parent, your gay lover, your inheritance murder, your gay best friend, your windswept landscape, your gay imposter, your terminally ill, your white men falling in love and saving some obscure corner of Africa, your single parent, your orphaned urban ragamuffin, your cultural misunderstanding, your acoustic guitar by the fireside – and all filmed exquisitely; this is the stuff of a 21st century film festival. Some would argue that any festival gathering just contains quantity trumping quality, but showing thousands of films for 33 years cannot be done without inherent challenges. 66 trailers are offered on MIFF’s official site; I watched all 66. MIFF’s trajectory is upward. Here are some recommendations.

My Big Night: opening night extravaganza at the Olympia

The Measure of a Man: moralism and humanism

Our Last Tango: tango Fred and Ginger doc

Sweet Bean: grandma makes Dorayaki; everyone loves it

The Lobster: dystopian romance

The Surprise: Belgian Heaven Can Wait

The Apostate: losing my religion Spanish style

Spanish Affair 2: light and bright

Magallanes: political redemption thriller

The Forbidden Shore: Cuban music doc

Cemetery of Splendor: dreamy Thai hospital drama

The Idol: Gazan American Idol

Mountains May Depart: China is changing

No Kids: divorced father falls in love with kid hater.

Sweet Dillard: jazz doc from Broward – gasp!

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