Miami Film Festival GEMS Fest Brings International Films to South Florida

"Birds of Passage"

With the festival season firmly underway, there are a lot of films to check out in the coming weeks. Right now, the world is waiting on the results of the New York Film Festival, where American audiences will get their first exposure to dozens of great titles. However, regional festivals around the country will help to raise exposure for many other films in local communities. One such festival to watch for is the Miami Film Festival GEMS Fest. The small festival taking place in South Florida may have less than 20 films, but it showcases some of the best features to check out in the international film community.

Last week, the festival officially announced its full lineup. As a result, many of the films will sound familiar to audiences paying attention to the Oscar race. In fact, several have been announced as the submission for the Foreign Language race and represent their country on the international stage.

The opening night film of the festival will be “Birds of Passage” from directors Cristina Gallego and Ciro Guerra. “Birds of Passage” will represent Columbia in the Foreign Language race. Other international submissions include “Burning,” “Border” (which will be the first Midnight movie of the festival), “Champions,” “Cold War,” and “Capernaum” over the course of the 4-day festival.

There will also be a Tribute to actress Bárbara Lennie, who appears two films at the festival. Cinematographer Diego García will be honored as well. García will also lead a Masterclass event on Cinematography while at the festival. There are panel discussions for various films, including “Burning,” as well as a new layout including the Spotlight screen and a Discovery Screen.

The full list of films is included below. Check out tickets and more for the Miami Film Festival GEMS Fest here!

Miami Film Festival GEMS Fest 2018 Lineup

The Spotlight Stage

“El Ángel” – Argentina/Spain. The second collaboration of Almodóvar’s El Deseo and Argentina’s K&S Films production companies after their first, the international hit and Oscar-nominated “Wild Tales (“Relatos salvajes”), which opened Miami Film Festival in 2016. Directed by Luis Ortega, El Ángel recently broke the record for the highest grossing debut weekend of an Argentine film in Argentina box office history. The film stars rising new talents Lorenzo Ferro and Chino Darín. MFF MARIMBAS AWARD NOMINEE.

“Animal” – Argentina/Spain.  Filmmaker Armando Bo won an Academy Award for Best Screenplay for his previous feature film – “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”, which also won Best Picture and Best Director for Alejandro Iñárritu. “Animal” stars Argentina’s box office superstar Guillermo Francella (“The Clan,” “The Secret in Their Eyes,” “Corazón de león”) and Carla Peterson, and was a summer box office hit in Argentina. MFF MARIMBAS AWARD NOMINEE.

“Ben is Back” – U.S.A. Filmmaker Peter Hedges was nominated for an Oscar as the writer of “About A Boy,” and his first feature as a director, “Pieces of April”, was also Oscar-nominated. Ben is Back recently world premiered in TIFF to acclaim and Oscar buzz for stars Julia Roberts and Lucas Hedges (Peter’s son), who was previously Oscar-nominated for “Manchester by the Sea.” MFF MARIMBAS AWARD NOMINEE. 

“Birds of Passage” (“Pájaros de Vernano”) – Colombia/Denmark/Mexico/France.  Co-director Cristina Gallego will attend the Opening Night presentation and participate in a conversation with the audience. Gallego and her filmmaking partner Ciro Guerra previously collaborated on “Embrace of the Serpent,” which received Colombia’s first-ever Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Language Film in 2015. MFF MARIMBAS AWARD NOMINEE. OPENING NIGHT FILM.

“Border” – Sweden/Denmark. Winner of 2018 Cannes Film Festival’s Un Certain Regard BEST FILM Award and Sweden’s 2019 Oscar submission, “Border” will be Miami Film Festival GEMS’ first MIDNIGHT/LATE-NIGHT SPECIAL PRESENTATION. Directed by Ali Abbasi, “Border” is a follow-up to Swedish author Jon Ajvide Lindqvist’s 2008 international hit multi-award-winning film adaption, “Let The Right One In.” MFF MARIMBAS AWARD NOMINEE.

“Burning” – South Korea. The highest-rated film in the history of the international critics’ poll at Cannes Film Festival and South Korea’s 2019 Oscar submission, “Burning stars Steven Yeung (“Sorry To Bother You and TV’s “The Walking Dead). Director Chang-dong Lee has won multiple international awards for previous films such as “Secret Sunshine (2007) and “Poetry” (2010). The screening of Burning will be followed by a panel moderated by programmer Lauren Cohen featuring local film critics discussing the film and the state of art house cinema in 2018. MFF MARIMBAS AWARD NOMINEE.

“Capernaum” – Lebanon. Directed by the acclaimed Nadine Labaki and winner of the Jury Prize at 2018 Cannes Film Festival, “Capernaum” is a candidate for Lebanon’s 2019 Oscar submission.

“Champions” (“Campeones”) – Spain. An unprecedented box office sensation at Spain’s domestic box office and Spain’s 2019 Oscar submission, “Champions” is directed by Goya-winning director Javier Fesser (expected to attend the screening) and starring two-time Goya-winning Best Actor Javier Gutierrez. MFF IBERO-AMERICAN FEATURE FILM AWARD & ZENO MOUNTAIN AWARD NOMINEE. CLOSING NIGHT FILM.

“Cold War” – Poland/France. Pawel Pawlikowski won Best Director at 2018 Cannes Film Festival for his follow-up to “Ida,” which won the Academy Award for Best Foreign-Language Film of 2014. “Cold War” is a candidate for Poland’s 2019 Oscar submission. MFF MARIMBAS AWARD NOMINEE.

“Everybody Knows” (“Todos Lo Saben”) – Spain/France/Italy. Only the second Spanish-language Opening Night Film of Cannes Film Festival in history. Directed by two-time Oscar-winning filmmaker Asghar Farhadi (“A Separation,” “The Salesman”) and starring Penélope Cruz, Javier Bardem, Ricardo Darín, Inma Cuesta, Eduard Fernandez, and 2018 Miami Film Festival GEMS Precious Gem Awardee, Bárbara Lennie.

“Petra” – Spain. Directed by acclaimed filmmaker Jaime Rosales, the exquisite “Petra” is a modern-day Spanish version of a classic Greek tragedy, featuring a towering performance by 2018 Miami Film Festival GEMS Precious Gem Awardee, Bárbara Lennie. MFF MARIMBAS AWARD NOMINEE.

 

The Discovery Stage

“Boys Cry” – Italy. Winner of the Silver Ribbon for Best First Feature Film, Italy’s prestigious critical honor, and a world premiere at 2018 Berlin Film Festival. Written and directed by brothers Damiano and Fabio D’Innocenzo, “Boys Cry” is a candidate for Italy’s 2019 Oscar submission. JORDAN RESSLER FIRST FILM AWARD NOMINEE.

“Diamantino” – Portugal/France/Brazil. Gabriel Abrantes and Daniel Schmidt’s deliriously offbeat “Diamantino won the 2018 Critic’s Week Best Film Award in Cannes. JORDAN RESSLER FIRST FILM AWARD NOMINEE.

“Dry Martina”– Chile/Argentina. Director Che Sandoval will attend the screening and participate in a conversation with the audience. “Dry Martina is one of the most important releases from Chile in 2018 and features a hilarious lead performance by actress Antonella Costa.  IBERO-AMERICAN FEATURE AWARD NOMINEE;

“The Heiresses” (“Las Herederas”) – Paraguay/Uruguay/Germany/Brazil/Norway/France. Winner of numerous international prizes, including the Alfred Bauer Prize and Best Actress for Ana Brun at the 2018 Berlin Film Festival, Marcelo Martinessi’s film is Paraguay’s 2019 Oscar submission. JORDAN RESSLER FIRST FILM AWARD NOMINEE.

“Hopelessly Devout” (“Mi Quierda Cofradía”) – Spain. Winner of the Audience Award at 2018 Malaga Film Festival, this uproarious comedy in the spirit of early Almodovar films is directed by Marta Díaz de Lope Díaz. JORDAN RESSLER FIRST FILM AWARD NOMINEE.

“Soufra” – U.S.A. Documentary directed by Thomas Morgan about the world’s most unlikely entrepreneur, Miriam Shaar, a third-generation refugee living in an encampment outside of Beirut looking to fulfill her dream of opening a catering company despite facing severe political and social barriers. Before the screening, a lunch with a local Miami “chefugee”.

“Wildlife”– U.S.A. Acclaimed actor Paul Dano’s directorial debut, co-written with his partner Zoe Kazan, starring Carey Mulligan and Jake Gyllenhaal. Cinematography by Diego García, recipient of Miami Film Festival GEMS’ Art of Light Award.

“Woman At War” – Iceland/France/Ukraine. A feminist epic comedy about an environmentalist crusader, directed by Benedikt Erlingsson and winner of the Best Screenplay Prize at 2018 Critics Week in Cannes. A candidate for Iceland’s 2019 Oscar submission.

What do you think of the Miami Film Festival GEMS Fest lineup? Which films will factor into the Oscar race? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!