With moral dilemmas abounding and discomfort and fear constant companions, cinema provides a real opportunity to escape, reflect, uplift, enrich, move, provoke, educate, appall and instruct. Moreover, more and more, it may do this exceedingly well.
This past year, among others, Oscar honored films like Birdman, Boyhood, The Theory of Everything, Whiplash, The Grand Budapest Hotel and Citizen Four thrilled audiences everywhere, Miami included. Bottom line? There may be no greater escape from the timesucking vortex of modern wireless life beyond the two-hour cinema ticket.
One manifestation of this is the 2015 Miami International Film Festival, a local event that has grown progressively impressive. Now in its 32nd run, MIFF has been painstakingly curated, no small feat in a world, seemingly swollen with screenings, many of which occur in what seems like an SRO, more impressively credentialed film festival landscape: Venice, Cannes, Berlin, Toronto, Hong Kong, SXSW, Sundance, Melbourne. Every city seems to have one of these nowadays, some with conspicuously higher wattage than others.
Still somehow, this explosion of flicks makes scrutiny less significant than it is intriguing. There is much ado about a red carpet here, but Miami is not Hollywood; this might be A-list talent but nobody knows the names of the participants. Despite the conflict between this pervasive Miami wannabe dream and reality, both effort and quality are present and evident at MIFF. While we wrap ourselves in a fantasy which imagines MIFF as something grander, we need not linger too long. The films and our experiences speak for themselves. Which festival is showing what and why is what matters.
Last year, The Imitation Game premiered to open the 58th London Film Festival. In Morelia, Mexico the 2013 FICM opened with Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity, and in 2014, Alejandro Iñárritu’s Birdman led. Both won Oscars. In spite of our allure, Miami is less elevated in its reach; we cannot screen great films throughout days blessed with eternal sunshine. On the other hand, Wild Tales is clocking mammoth acclaim with an Oscar nomination, nine Spanish Goya nominations and blockbuster credentials – Argentina’s all time highest-grossing film. Again, there are Red Carpet events, but the best known celebrities are unknowns to all but those in the industry. Aside from our own Mitchell Kaplan and Orson Welles – yes the late great one – you will be hard pressed to recognize anyone. Never mind. We go for good, new movies.
Increasingly, MIFF utilizes a great number of our favorite local theaters, which officially screen films from March 6-15 not counting the pre-festival events from late February. On my radar are Ciudad Delirio from Colombia, On the Road Somewhere from the Dominican Republic, American East Side Sushi and Sidetracked from Spain.
Find your own path here: http://www.miamiff-tickets.com/events.
We all know that it’s harder than ever to disconnect or unplug. For the next week or two, it will be easier.
Carl Rachelson is a teacher at Palmer Trinity School and a regular contributor to the Pinecrest Tribune. He may be contacted by addressing email to firstname.lastname@example.org.