NEW YORK – The Miami International Film Festival, presented by Miami Dade College, just announced the films and discussions for the “The Big Picture” program this year. “The Big Picture” program highlights films that tackle world issues and the human struggle for life and dignity. The program pairs each film with a thought-provoking discussion, engaging filmmakers, international experts and the audience. This year, “The Big Picture” will address four major topics: French “Banlieue” Uprisings, The Death Penalty, Children Affected by War and Terrorism, and Soldiers Question War.
“At any given point in the course of world events there are hot-button issues that demand our attention. From the recent riots in France to the ominous effects of terrorism, the issues raised in “The Big Picture” this year will surely provide some of the most timely and provocative dialogue the festival has witnessed,” says Festival Director Nicole Guillemet.” “It is important to emphasize, that the impact of these issues are not solely American or European or Middle Eastern, but that of the World as a whole.”
Big Picture Films and Discussions:
Often asking more questions than they answer, the films represented in “The Big Picture” aims to increase awareness and inspire dialogue that will lead to understanding and meaningful change. The program pairs each film with a thought-provoking discussion, engaging filmmakers, international experts and the audience.
THE BANLIEUE IN FRENCH CINEMA: STORIES FROM THE GHETTO ON THE OUTSKIRTS
"Alimentation Générale" Director: Chantal Briet (France)
Ali's grocery store is the only shop of the decayed shopping center still in business. It's also the only place left for the forsaken inhabitants of the surrounding tower blocks, where they can get together. By filming time going by, this chronicle shows the importance of such a place where, in spite of difficulties and poverty, people still share friendliness, laughter and human warmth. (North American Premiere)
"L'Esquive" ("Games of Love and Chance") Director: Abdelatif Kechiche (France)
Fifteen-year-old Krimo is in love with Lydia, the confident and sassy star of the upcoming school play. This is not your typical high school comedy, but a reality-based romance set in the housing complexes that surround Paris. The play is an 18th century comedy, whose language is as far from French slang as Shakespeare is from rap. (2003)
“L’Haine” (“Hate”) Director: Mathieu Kassovitz (France)
Twenty-four hours in the lives of three close friends from very different backgrounds. Said is an Arab, Hubert is black and Vinz a Jew. Each of them needs to vent the anger they feel about the police brutality that landed another friend in the hospital. A riot breaks out in their housing project outside Paris, and Vinz finds a gun lost by a policeman. (1995)
"Wesh wesh. Qu'est-ce qui se passe?" ("Wesh wesh, what's going on?") Director: Rabah Ameur-Zaimeche
Kamel, a young man from a Paris banlieue, was sentenced to prison and expulsion. After a term in jail and two years in Algeria, he comes back illegally to his family. He wants to rebuild his life, find a job, get papers and live a normal life. But all of his efforts fail. (2001)
DISCUSSION: The Banlieue in French Cinema: Stories from the Ghetto on the Outskirts
The four films in this program allow us a glimpse into the banlieues from within and from various angles—showing us anger, hopelessness and rage, or moments of tenderness, resistance, solidarity and hope. What they have in common is the geography of an empty urban space defined by poverty and decaying housing projects, home to generations of idle young people growing up in a secluded world of social exclusion, ethnic discrimination, poor education, unemployment, drug dealers and police.
November’s civil disturbances in most of France’s metropolitan areas with thousands of cars burning in the streets was a wake up call to French society. The inequality and racism, festering for decades, which the politicians and majority population chose not to see, exploded into a violent confrontation. No one can say they are unaware of the frustrations any longer. What will be done now to address the needs of the French immigrant community? Could the US face similar disturbances as the gap between the rich and poor widens.
The discussion will be held on Monday, March 6 with moderator Barbara Lorey de Lacharriere, French film critic. Panelists include:
- Chantale Briet, Director, Alimentation Général
- Alec G. Hargreaves, Director of the Winthrop-King Institute for Contemporary French and Francophone Studies at Florida State University
- Hubert Koundé, Actor, La Haine
- Karim Mazdour, Actor, Wesh Wesh
THE DEATH PENALTY
"After Innocence" Director: Jessica Sanders (USA)
Imagine serving prison time for someone else’s crime. Now imagine getting a second chance at freedom and facing a judicial system that resents being challenged. After Innocence takes a closer look at the legal revolution of DNA testing and its effect on inmates, who are suddenly proven not guilty. Discussion to follow film. (Regional Premiere)
Fighting for Life in the Death-Belt Directors: Jeff Marks, Adam Elend (USA)
This film is a gripping, behind-the-scenes look at a lawyer's fight to save his wrongly convicted client from execution. Narrated by singer Ani Di Franco, this new documentary considers the controversial institution of capital punishment through the eyes of Stephen Bright, the nation's leading anti-death penalty lawyer. Discussion to follow film.
DISCUSSION: The Death Penalty
Fighting for life while serving on death row…struggling for a new life once exonerated. These stories question the ethics of the system and the morality of the punishment. Stephen Bright, the nation’s leading anti-death penalty lawyer, a Florida exoneree, and filmmakers Jessica Sanders, Jeff Marks, and Adam Elend, discuss the death penalty.
In January a Tampa man was released on DNA evidence after serving 24 years. A Miami man was released five months ago after having spent 26 years behind bars accused of being a rapist. A Florida law established a deadline which threatens to cut off the use of DNA evidence for convicted inmates to prove their innocence. Imagine day in, day out, locked in a cell, unable to give your child a hug, your spouse a kiss, attend a parent’s funeral, and knowing you shouldn’t be there. These cases are but two of the thousands of wrongly convicted prisoners. The Innocence Project is hoping to address nationwide.
The discussion will be held on Monday, March 6 with moderator Amy Driscoll, Reporter, The Miami Herald. Panelists include:
- Stephen Bright, Lawyer
- Jessica Sanders, Director, After Innocence
- Jeff Marks, Director, Fighting for Life in the Death-Belt
- Adam Elend,Director, Fighting for Life in the Death-Belt
- Wilton Dedge, Florida exoneree
- Milton Hirsch, Defense Attorney for Wilton Dedge
SOLDIERS QUESTION WAR
"Sir, No Sir" Director: David Zeiger (USA)
The first film to tell the complete story of the GI movement against the Vietnam War is both a timely document and a much-needed redress to a forgotten and sometimes suppressed history. Troy Garity narrates this blistering and passionate award-winning documentary that combines dramatic personal testimony and never-before-seen archival material. Discussion to follow film. (Regional Premiere)
DISCUSSION: Soldiers Question War
From Vietnam to Iraq, soldiers have served their country even while knowing their mission was no longer in focus. Filmmaker David Zeiger will lead the audience in a discussion with Garett Reppenhagen of Iraq Veterans Against the War and Patrick McCann, President of the South Florida Chapter of Veterans for Peace, Member of Vietnam Veterans Against the War.
The discussion will be held on Tuesday, March 7 with moderator Michael Sallah, Investigations Editor, The Miami Herald. Panelists include:
- David Zeiger, Director, Sir, No Sir
- Garett Reppenhagen, Associate Director of the Alliance for Security, Member of Iraq Veterans Against the War
- Patrick McCann, President of the South Florida Chapter of Veterans for Peace, Member of Vietnam Veterans Against the War
CHILDREN AFFECTED BY WAR AND TERRORISM
"Echoes Of War" Director: Joop Van Wijk (The Netherlands)
Children from around the world, victims of war and terrorism, share their harrowing experiences. From Afghanistan to Colombia, Sierra Leone to 9/11, they recollect the carnage that affects them to this day. Grief, courage and hope are their common bond in this heart-warming documentary. Discussion to follow film. (North American Premiere)
DISCUSSION: Children Affected by War and Terrorism
Filmmaker Joop Van Wijk and author Dr. Nancy Baron will discuss the innocent victims of war and terrorism—children. The audience will explore the current global situation, how these children cope, and what the future holds. Cheryl Little, executive director of the Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center, will bring a local perspective talking about the children in our community who have been victims of political instability in their homelands, come to the US for shelter, only to come face to face with our unwelcoming immigration system.
The discussion will be held on Thursday, March 9 with moderator David Lawrence, Jr., President. The Early Childhood Initiative Foundation. Panelists include:
- Joop Van Wijk, Director, Echoes of War
- Dr. Nancy Baron, Director of Global Psycho-Social Initiatives
- Cheryl Little, Executive Director, Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center
Screenings will take place at six venues throughout the city: The Gusman Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Miami, Regal South Beach Cinema in South Beach, Tower Theater in Little Havana, Sunrise Intracoastal Cinema in North Miami Beach, The Bill Cosford Cinema at the University of Miami in Coral Gables, and The Colony in Miami Beach.
Guests who have recently attended the Miami International Film Festival have included Andy Garcia, Jonathan Demme, Woody Harrelson, Geraldine Chaplin, Carlos Saura, Virginie Ledoyen, Zana Briski, HBO, Fox Searchlight, Liv Ullmann, Alexia de la Iglesia, Chris Terrio, Luis Mandoki, Stanley Nelson, Bob Rafelson, Sara Driver, Ted Hope, Sony Pictures Classics, Camilla Belle, Miramax, Baltasar Kormakur, Tony Safford, Rory Kennedy, Daniel Bruhl, Luis Tosar, Stephen Frears, Gaspar Noe, Fred Wiseman, Fernando Leon de Aranoa, Jesse Bradford, Daniele Thompson, Mikael Hafstrom, LisaGay Hamilton, Khyentse Norbu, Eve Ensler, Focus Features, ThinkFilm, Venevision, Maverick, Plural, PBS, Wellspring, Global Film Initiative, Emerging Pictures, Paradigm Consulting, Bristol Media, William Morris Agency, Ibermedia, Traction Media, Comerica Bank, amongst others.
The Miami International Film Festival brings the best of world cinema to South Florida and plays a leading role in maintaining and further enriching its film culture. MIFF uses the unique geographical and cultural position of Miami to be a premiere venue for the exhibition of international and US films, with a special focus on Ibero-American cinema.
More than 60,000 people attended the Festival in 2005, a 275% increase since 2002. In addition, more than 220 filmmakers, producers, talent, and industry representatives from around the world attended the 2005 Festival to introduce their work to Miami audiences and industry professionals. During the last three years, under the direction of Nicole Guillemet, the Festival has presented films from more than 50 countries, including 125 East Coast, US, and world premieres, scores of Oscar winners and nominees, and many international prizewinners.
Miami Dade College
Miami Dade College has a long and rich history of involvement in the cultural arts, providing South Florida with a vast array of artistic and literary offerings including The Miami Book Fair International, the Cultura del Lobo performing arts series, The Cuban Cinema Series, and the School of Entertainment and Design Technology in addition to the Miami International Film Festival. MDC is the largest institution of higher education in the country and is nationally recognized for many of its academic and cultural programs. With an enrollment of more than 163,000 students, MDC is the nation’s top producer of associate of arts and associate of science degrees. The college’s eight campuses and outreach centers offer more than 200 distinct degree programs including baccalaureate degrees in education.
For more information contact the Miami International Film Festival at please visit www.mdc.edu.