George Neary, the director of cultural tourism for the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau, talks with Jaie Laplante, the executive director of the Miami International Film Festival, about the festival’s impact on Miami’s burgeoning reputation as a cinematic hub. Plus, the insider’s guide to best in show.
GN: Is there a type of a filmmaker who gravitates towards the Miami Festival as opposed to the Hampton Film Festival, for example?
JL: I haven’t had a chance to visit the Hamptons Film Festival in particular, but I do go to many other festivals, and what makes Miami unique and special is that MIFF is a hub for directors from Spain, Portugal, and Latin America. In 2012, every single director of the 11 films in our signature Knight Ibero-American Competition felt it imperative to travel to Miami to personally present their films to our distinguished audience and jury. The collective power of having the finest cinematic creative minds in the Ibero- American world, all in one place, had a palpable force, and once again, every director in this year’s competition has made plans to be here and share their work with you.
GN: How has Film Month in March, the organized effort to create exposure for all film festivals in Miami, helped the film industry?
JL: I think GMCVB’s Miami Film Month has highlighted for people what a great film culture we have here in this city. It’s already happening; what the Bureau is doing now is making sure people know about it, and I really applaud their efforts.
GN: How does the film industry look at Miami as a movie destination?
JL: I think the industry sees Miami as a great place to do business. Many Latin American broadcasters are headquartered here; so it makes selling movies to those territories easy to do from here. Now that we have NATPE , the National Association of Television Program Executives, established here, it increases the market attention across the board. And of course, with that group coming here to do business, they are reminded of the diversity and excellence of our location as a good place to center production.
GN: Has the Latin American market been affected by the growth of MIFF?
JL: I think, in the past 10 years, MIFF has provided a platform to show the U.S. the amazing work coming out of Latin America, and thus has been a part of the growth of attention to the region – so much that in recent years, American producers like Participant Media are starting to invest in co-production in Latin America, just as they did with this year’s MIFF selection “NO” from Chile.
GN: Is Miami film-friendly?
JL: I do think MIFF has a lot to do with making Miami more film-friendly. Just as the creation of the South Beach Wine & Food Festival 11 years ago had a lot to do with making Miami known as an international food city – attracting the world’s most important chefs to open restaurants here – so, too, does MIFF reveal the enthusiasm for all cinema to U.S. distributors. The culture of MIFF has helped create an atmosphere where we now have 6 independent art cinemas flourishing, which is likely to be more per capita than many other cities in the U.S.
On Jaie’s Agenda:
THE ARTIST AND THE MODEL
This is perhaps the most classic, old-world glamour of any film in this year’s festival, and not just because it is set among the French Resistance of the Second World War. It has a lot to do with the moral authority that the two veteran stars, Jean Rochefort and Claudia Cardinale, bring to the prime roles, and also the evolution of Spanish director Fernando Trueba’s feelings about art and how it exists for us to understand ourselves – a theme he’s been working on his whole career. It’s just a beautiful, deeply rapturous movie.
This is a world premiere from Argentina from a new director named Carlos Jaureguialzo. It’s a wistful movie about a couple who have been together for a long time and have lost their way – but really can’t imagine not being with each other, and are trying to figure it out. The wife is played by the glamorous and beautiful Cecilia Roth, who is perhaps best known for the lead in Almodovar’s “All About My Mother,” and the husband is played by Dario Grandinetti, who was the lead in another of Almodovar’s greatest movies, “Talk to Her.” They are both great actors, and they are totally convincing as a couple. It’s a real master class in acting.
Gael Garcia Bernal, teaming up with the great Chilean director Pablo Larrain (making only his fourth feature), has made a movie about an astonishing moment in Chile’s political history. Together, they make politics as entertaining as Ben Affleck did in this year’s Oscar contender, “Argo.” Coincidentally, “No” is also nominated for an Oscar, a richly deserved nomination. The film is about the 1988 referendum on Pinochet’s long-term grip on the presidency and the unorthodox method of the “vote no” campaign strategists.
TWENTY FEET FROM STARDOM
This is the feel-good movie of the festival; that is why it appears on opening night! Darlene Love and a host of other amazing vocal talent star as back-up singers who, their whole careers, have been in the shadows performing for the likes of Bruce Springsteen, the Rolling Stones, Lou Reed, Stevie Wonder, and Bette Midler – but are now breaking out to have their own voices heard. Darlene Love herself is scheduled to attend opening night, along with director Morgan Neville.
VENUS AND SERENA
South Florida loves Venus and Serena Williams; they are our hometown heroes. And this documentary blows the lid off everything you think you know about these champions. “Venus and Serena” lets us into their lives during one of the most complicated years of their careers – with a major health scare and other challenges facing them – and shows us the very human side behind the celebrity personas that we see through the media.