The 26th annual Miami International Film Festival opens tomorrow, Friday, 6 March, and runs through the 15th. During that time, 137 films from 43 countries will screen.
The overall program will basically be the same as in previous years with the usual array of panels, documentaries and feature films. However there is a new spice this year, a new festival director Tiziana Finzi, who wants to bring an "Art Basel" flavor to South Florida's biggest film festival.
Friday's opening-night film is VALENTINO: THE LAST EMPEROR, a documentary about the famed fashion icon that includes a look at his often turbulent personal and professional relationship with partner Giancarlo Giammetti. (Guzman Center, 7:00 p.m.). Opening Night Celebration, Freedom Tower at Miami Dade College, 600 Biscayne Blvd., Downtown Miami, follows.
Among the other docs on the slate are 9 TO 5: DAYS IN PORN, which follows 10 adult-film stars over the course of a year; and CACHAO: UNO MÁS, in which Andy Garcia hosts a 2005 performance of one of Cuba's most legendary musicians, Israel "Cachao" López.
This year's Career Achievement Tribute will go to director Abel Ferrara, whose films — such as KING OF NEW YORK and BAD LIEUTENANT are tough and as honest as movies can be. The tribute will be followed by a screening of Ferrara's latest film, CHELSEA ON THE ROCKS, a documentary about the artists and personalities who've resided in New York City's famed Chelsea Hotel.
Among the feature films on the schedule are THREE MONKEYS, about the complicated cover-up of a hit-and-run accident; MACHAN, a comedy about a ragtag group from Sri Lanka who form a phony handball team in order to get invited to Europe; and DAD'S GIRLFRIEND, Italy, that follows a widowed father as he travels to Miami to meet the mother of his son's child.
The REEL Education Seminar Series includes workshops and panel discussions on breaking into the film industry, while Florida's homegrown talent will be on display in the Florida Focus screenings. There is a shorts competition, and the Preservation Screening Room is featuring films from renowned director John Cassavetes.
The festival's awards-night closing film is EL NIDO VACÍO (Empty Nest). The Argentine comedy follows a middle-aged couple as they adapt to life after their youngest son moves out of the house. Screening followed by Wrap Party, Everglades on the Bay, 244 Biscayne Blvd., Downtown Miami.
Gusman Center for the Performing Arts, 174 E. Flagler St., Miami
Miami Beach Cinematheque, 512 Española Way
Regal Cinemas South Beach 18, 1100 Lincoln Road
Colony Theatre, 1040 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach
Tower Theatre, 1508 SW Eighth St., Miami
Bill Cosford Cinema, in the Memorial Building on the University of Miami campus in Coral Gables.
Tickets: $12 general admission, $10 for Miami Film Society members, $11 for seniors, $7 for students. Special event rates vary. Special Ticket Packages available for a limited time (call).
For more information, go to miamifilmfestival.com or call 305-405-6433.