NEW YORK – The Miami International Film Festival, presented by Miami Dade College, will be celebrating its fourth year of the breakthrough program, Miami Encuentros, which gives emerging producers from Spain and Latin America the opportunity to present new projects to U.S. industry professionals, including producers, sales agents, television stations and distributors.
This year, the Miami International Film Festival and Miami Encuentros Director Diana Sanchez have chosen nine filmmakers to participate in Encuentros from Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Ecuador, Peru, USA, Uruguay and Spain.
This intensive three-day event fosters dialogue, builds lasting connections and offers opportunities for networking and the nurturing of the next generation of filmmakers, providing access to distributors and ultimately to the public.
“As a program, Miami Encuentros is a pot of many ingredients. Professional Advice, Creative Ambition, Rare Opportunity, and Unique Talent. When all these ingredients are blended together, the result is quite extraordinary,” says Festival Director Nicole Guillemet. “Miami Encuentros engages in a process that enriches the filmmaker, the participating industry members, and most importantly, the final product.”
Serving as the Opening Night film at the 2006 Miami International Film Festival, "Heartlift" ("Lifting de Corazón”) has the added distinction of having been a Miami Encuentros project in 2003. Director Eliseo Subiela’s “Heartlift” unfolds as a sexy, frothy meditation on the madness of love, about a successful plastic surgeon confronting a mid-life crisis who barely lives to tell the tale. “Madeinusa” and “7 Virgins”, two dramatic features in the Ibero-American Cinema Competition this year, were past Miami Encuentros projects as well.
MIAMI ENCUENTROS PROJECTS 2006:
Amateurs (Angels still come to the suburbs) - Amateurs (A Vallevcas todavía llegan ángeles)
Gabriel Velázquez, Spain
Producers: Chema de la Peña, Artimaña Producciones
Bianca is a 16-year-old living in Marseilles, France, with her mother, a Spanish immigrant factory worker. Her life passion is cross-country running, to which she devotes all her time and energy. In a tragic accident, her mother is trapped under three tons of fish and killed, forcing Bianca, who dislikes most people, to live in a home with other orphans. She resists being put in a group home because she knows that her real father is out there somewhere.
After nearly making a big mistake with her young life, she decides that it's worth the effort to escape to Madrid to find her father. While searching the Valleca suburbs, she meets Julio Nieves, an older construction worker who is having problems at work because he's going deaf. Nieves pretends to be her father because he feels so alone. To her dismay, Bianca later discovers that her real father died in an accident at the municipal slaughterhouse when he was trapped underneath five tons of meat. Alone in the world and in need of affection, she decides not to let Nieves know of her discovery.
Nieves and Bianca - an old man and a young girl - without saying anything verbally, accept the game they are playing and an unlikely father-daughter relationship emerges. They will push the limits of the fragile boundaries they have created: a new family and the illusions of unconditional love being eternal. It’s not going to be easy.
Bad Day to Go Fishing (Mal Día Para Ir a Pescar)
Alvaro Brechner, Uruguay (First Feature)
Producer: Virginia Hinze
Jacob van Oppen is a former world-champion wrestler who thinks he’ll one day regain his title. Accompanied by his manager, Prince Orsini, he travels through small South American towns carrying out wrestling demonstrations. Every week, a new city awakens to posters of Jacob in his prime. Massive red lettering draws the town folk to see the training of a “World Champion,” while in smaller print at the bottom, a challenge: “A thousand dollars to whoever can last three minutes in the ring with Jacob van Oppen.”
For many years, Orsini’s job has been to organize exhibitions where people basically pay to watch the giant exercise. Occasionally he arranges a fight with a local challenger willing to be knocked down for a few dollars. Unaware of this, when Jacob arrives at a small town and a true challenger turns up, he cannot recognize the danger.
The contender is a young field worker-turned-grocer known as “the Turk.” His pregnant girlfriend finds a way for them to make some easy cash when she reads the small print on the poster. Orsini, fearing that the Turk might be a difficult man to bribe, visits his store to reason with him, but his usual tactics don’t work on his controlling girlfriend.
Orsini tries everything to stop the fight, but to no avail. He does his best to persuade the champ to leave, but the big man’s pride interferes with Orsini’s plans: Jacob discovers the truth about the fixed fights and decides to accept his fate. A bottle of gin, a revolver and an open-handed blow will put an end to Friday night, and what Saturday morning brings has nothing to do with wrestling.
Fraternal Love (União Fraterna)
Laís Bodanzky, Brazil
Producers: Fabio Gullane, Gullane Filmes, Buriti Filmes
Fraternal Love, a feature-length fiction, takes place during one evening at a dance club for the elderly in São Paulo. The dancing begins in the afternoon when the ballroom opens and ends just before midnight as the last customer leaves. The film follows an ensemble cast of six main characters as they reveal their true selves through intertwining and parallel storylines.
Ernesto enjoys putting other people in embarrassing situations. His long- and well-kept secret finally surfaces when everyone discovers that he is in fact not a widower: His wife is actually downstairs waiting for him in the lobby. Senhor Álvaro, the club’s great dance champion, is both a grouch and a gentleman. Due to an injury, he is forced to watch from his seat as Dona Alice, his dance partner, shines alone. Feeling impotent, he realizes his enlarged ego must face his conscience.
Dona Nice, a first-time attendee, rediscovers her femininity just a few months after having become a widow. Her needs and desires, stifled while living with her repressive husband, finally overtake her on the dance floor. Erivelton has a terrible attack of jealousy because his dance partner, Iolanda, thinks of nothing but her husband who she has left alone at home, lying in bed and connected to an oxygen mask.
Friends Sílvia and Marina hire the young dancer Betinho to dance with them exclusively. Their quiet duel over young dancer’s attention bring old wounds to the surface. And Eudes feels like a young Don Juan after seducing Bel, a 30-year-old going through a delicate moment in her life who has come to the dance by chance.
How Far are you Going? (Qué tan Lejos)
Tania Hermida, Ecuador (First Feature)
Producers: Gervasio Iglesias, La Zanfoña Producciones
How far are you going is a journey of self-discovery by two girls in their mid-20s, Esperanza (Hope) and Tristeza (Sadness), while they travel along the Ecuadorian Andes and coasts. Esperanza is a tourist from Spain following the instructions of her travel guide in her search for "third world" adventures and "picturesque" views. Tristeza is an Ecuadorian student of literature, very critical and skeptical of her country's "picturesqueness" and secretly looking for love.
Both Esperanza and Tristeza intend to get to Cuenca, a small city in the South, by bus. When a national strike forces them to hitchhike, they discover the hidden secrets of an apparently abandoned country. The sudden appearance of a young man who is carrying the ashes of his recently deceased grandmother alters the course and meaning of their journey to the point where they're transformed by the recognition of their own solitudes. Esperanza never finds the picture-perfect postcard country she was looking for and Tristeza loses the ideal of finding the picture-perfect love she was looking for, but the metaphorical routes they follow lead them to explore the thrills of possible other loves and worlds within themselves.
Francisca Schweitzer, Chile
Producers: Alberto Chaigneau, Building a Rainbow
Niebla is a disturbing yet beautiful love story between Nadia, a 35-year-old woman, and Manuel, a boy of 14. Nadia, in crisis and looking for refuge, arrives at Niebla, a coastal town in southern Chile always covered by fog and rain, and finds three orphaned siblings in an inherited old hostel. Magdalena, the oldest, is a rebellious adolescent maintaining a perverted relationship with a quadriplegic neighbor; Maria, the middle child, is an enchanting girl suffering from severe retardation; and Manuel, the youngest of the three, is man of the house and caretaker of both the hostel and his older sisters. Anna, a German artist and old friend of their deceased parents, cares for the children.
As the hostel’s first guest, Nadia is spied upon and analyzed. Feeling at first suffocated, she eventually realizes her loneliness and need for companionship. In an attempt to join the bizarre household dynamic, she discovers in Manuel something to which she is subconsciously attracted. One day Nadia is left in peril after a serious breakdown; Manuel rescues her, releasing her latent affection for him. Later, when Anna and the girls go to the city, leaving Manuel and Nadia alone, the attraction that had been quietly developing blossoms and the two begin a relationship. When Anna and the sisters return, the romance goes unnoticed.
As Nadia integrates herself into the family, her anguish lessens and everything seems to work. However, the romance is finally discovered and the apparent harmony is destroyed. What was once hidden appears in a manner so explicit it blinds everything surrounding it. Nadia then returns to the city, guilty of having dirtied something once innocent and pure.
The Salted Earth
René Simon Cruz Jr., USA
Producers: Effie T. Brown, René Simon Cruz Jr.
Gabriel San Martin is a powerful Miami lawyer defending only the guilty rich. Women find him irresistible and he's heir apparent to an agri-business empire. The only dark cloud in his life is that he's been plagued by nightmarish visions since childhood.
After Castro's sudden death, Gabriel's father, El Viejo, sends him to Havana on a quest that has long obsessed him: recovering Finca San Martin and vast family lands that were nationalized by the Marxist Revolution. El Viejo has arranged for the repurchase of the land from Cuban General Carlos Fuentes, but complications arise. Fuentes can't deliver the most valuable piece of land as ownership has been transferred to the Guajiro peasants, and Gabriel is forced to travel to Viñales to bargain directly with the peasants.
Captain Clara Buendia, the General’s security chief, joins Gabriel for the journey. He is love struck, but she despises him as he embodies the coming rape of her country by foreign powers. Their diametrically opposed views clash even as an irresistible attraction draws them closer. While traveling the dangerous road to Finca San Martin, they overcome many attacks, forcing Gabriel into close contact with peasants like Ernesto Zedillo, a truck driver-singer-poet whose life is tied to tradition, family and the land. Gabriel soon finds himself compelled to re-examine his preconceptions about Cuba, its people and himself.
As they near Viñales, repressed memories resurface and Gabriel comes face to face with his deepest fears. The truth behind his haunting visions is revealed, and he learns that his life is a lie. He must now choose between exacting revenge and pursuing the love that could lead him to redemption.
Diego F. Ramírez, Colombia
Producers: Jhonny Hendrix, Antorcha Films
Pablo, an Afro-Colombian doctor from a humble village called Saudó, lives with his family in a big city. Pablo never talked about Saudó until his son, Camilo, wanted to meet his grandmother, Herminia. Prompted by a bizarre series of events, Pablo decides to take Camilo to Saudó; for his son, it is like a 12th birthday adventure.
While traveling to the village from Quibdó, the closest nearby town, their canoero tells Camilo the story of Saudó: It was a town of black slaves, who after escaping used witchcraft in order to disappear. Many say that Saudó doesn’t even exist, while others talk of a place inhabited only by witches. Once in Saudó, the atmosphere is cold and tense, filled with a strange silence. They have the feeling that they are being watched.
Pablo finds his mother; as they enjoy a little family reunion, the house is attacked by dark forces. While Herminia performs the protection ritual on her grandson, Pablo rushes outside but finds nothing. When he re-enters the house, his mother and son are gone. Later he discovers that the woman he believed was his mother was not. The forces of darkness cloaking Saudó have his son; the only way to find him is to follow his heart.
Pablo offers his life for his son’s and unknowingly liberates the souls trapped in the city, including his mother’s. Balance is restored and light returns to Saudó. Crossing the river to leave the village, Camilo faints. Waking up in a hospital, he realizes that the accident put him and his father in comas. As his mother holds him in her arms and kisses him he looks over and sees his father’s body laying motionless in a hospital bed.
Septembers (Septiembres en el mar de la China)
Carles Bosch, Spain
Producers: Loris Omedes for Bausan Films, Marta Figueres
In September, 2005 the Soto de Real Prison near Madrid celebrates the Festival of Song, a karaoke competition. Norma, Patricia, Aurora, Gardoqui and Estefanía will perform, as will Adalberto, who just beat out Arturo and Rudolf. At the September, 2006 celebration, not all participants have returned.
Rudolf, Arturo, Adalberto, Norma, Patricia, Aurora, Gardoqui and Estefanía live out their love stories from prison. Rudolf, from Lithuania, yearns to win back a beautiful Ukranian girl he visited while on a 3-day pass. The Spanish gypsy, Arturo, is still awaiting trial and is visited weekly by his girlfriend, Rocio, who might not continue to visit once he is condemned to nine years’ incarceration. Adalberto, an Argentine, has a girlfriend in Barcelona whose name is actually Pablo.
Norma, a Mexican, has already won the Festival of Song three times; if not granted a pardon, she may win again. Patricia, from Madrid, has spent five months incarcerated because her boyfriend left her with a bag of drugs. Aurora and her boyfriend are in a relationship of convenience, seeing each other in the prison whenever they can. Gardoqui, from Madrid, has met his great love, Fortu, in the prison infirmary. Estefanía, from Catalonia, has also met her true love in Cristian, an Ecuadorian. They even decided to get married.
From one September to the next, the film follows these love stories, both within the prison and without it, traveling to Buenos Aires where they have asked for Adalberto's extradition, to Lithuania where Rudolf dreams of returning and to Bolivia where Aurora’s children are. As love is a two-way street, the person that is in prison is just as important as the one outside.
Daniel Rodríguez, Perú (First Feature)
Producers: Enid Campos, Daniel Rodríguez, Cinecorp SAC
T has a simple dream: to leave his gray life as a clerk and paint watercolors. To fulfill this wish, he moves into an apartment building, giving him more space and freedom. His new neighbors are an unfortunate group including an old gossipy pair, a single mother, a handicapped soccer player and an incompatible young married couple.
Upon arriving at the building, T is targeted by the residents and quickly conned into doing them favors. The old couple asks for his support in renovating the building; the soccer player makes him store his old trophies in his apartment; and the single mother talks him into giving her son painting lessons so she can go meet her lover. T is prevented from fulfilling his dream by this chain of domestic nightmares.
At a certain point, the residents, despite having taken advantage of their new neighbor, accuse him of being irresponsible, selfish and lazy. The only one who seemingly supports him is a lonesome young woman who, like the others, later stabs him in the back. Angered by the attitude of his neighbors, T becomes depressed and flees to the solitary city streets. Upon returning, he finds that someone has broken into his apartment and that his treasured watercolor has disappeared. Looking out the window, he sees a dreadful spectacle: the watercolor - his life’s dream - is now ruined and thrown onto a bonfire by those that he had recently helped.
In the end, nothing is accomplished. The watercolor is not finished and the neighbors are unable to renovate the building. T, shocked by the actions and betrayals of those around him, gives up and joins this group of dissatisfied neighbors’ oppressive way of life.
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 (305) 237-3456 or visit www.miamifilmfestival.com. For more information on Miami Dade College, please visit www.mdc.edu.