Thing’s are about to get exciting for movie lovers in South Florida this weekend. It’s opening night of GEMS, Miami-Dade College’s Miami International Film Festival’s four-day fall mini film festival! Kicking things off is director John Crowley and writer Nick Hornby’s coming-of-age romantic drama Brooklyn starring Saoirse Ronan, one of this writer’s most anticipated films of the fall. As the Opening Night Film of GEMS, Brooklyn will be preceded by a sure-to-be lavish opening night cocktail and reception at Cubaocho Museum & Performing Arts Center right across the street. The festivities get under way at 5:30 pm followed by the movie at 7:45 pm.
Brooklyn, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January this year, is just one of the 14 ”gems’ that MIFF Executive Director Jaie Laplante and team have carefully selected from the 2015 Cannes, Berlin, Venice, Sundance and Toronto film festivals. Other weekend highlights that will play at MDC’s Tower Theater include Youth, Italian filmmaker Paolo Sorrentino’s follow-up to his Academy Award-winning The Great Beauty, starring Michael Caine and Harvey Keitel as retired artists facing existential dilemmas; Chinese filmmaker Hou Hsiao-hsien’s Cannes-winning dabble into the Wuxia genre The Assassin; and the heavily-hyped Argentinean crime drama The Clan which, after its resounding success at home and at TIFF last month, became the country’s official Oscar submission for Best Foreign Language Film.
Speaking of Oscar, a past nominee, Chilean filmmaker Pablo Larrain (No), will also be returning to Miami’s shores with his latest picture—The Club (a Grand Jury Prize winner at Berlinale this year), as will filmmaker Ciro Guerra who brings his latest drama, the Cannes-winning Embrace of the Serpent, to the fest. GEMS will conclude on Sunday, October 25th with the Florida premiere of The 33, a star-studded re-telling of the Chilean miner accident that grabbed headlines in 2010.
Below is the full list of films that will play the fest over the next four days. I’ve also included each film’s boiler plate as well as their showtimes, you know, because I’m nice like that. And on a final note… I’d like to disclaim that although the GEMS lineup was announced more than a month ago, it came at a time when I was out on vacation, leaving me unable to promote the good word it deserved. Nevertheless, there’s no better time than now to make your weekend plans a reality. So, get on it!
All films will play at MDC’s Tower Theater, located at 1508 SW 8th St. Tickets run at $13 ($10 for Film Society members). More information, including how to buy tickets online, can be found at www.miamifilmfestival.com or by calling 1-844-565-6433.
OPENING NIGHT FILM – PRECEDED BY OPENING NIGHT PARTY
(USA / Ireland)
Directed by John Crowley
Adapted by Nick Hornby (An Education) from the Colm Toibin bestselling novel, this 1950’s story follows the life of a young Irish woman caught between tradition and passion, between two countries and two futures. Starring Oscar nominee for Atonement, Saoirse Ronan, the cast also includes Jim Broadbent, Julie Walters, Emory Cohen, and Domhnall Gleason.
Showtimes: Thursday, October 22 @ 7:45pm
HAVANA MOTOR CLUB
(USA / Cuba)
Directed by Bent-Jorgen Perlmutt
One of the most fascinating events of Miami International Film Festival in 2014 was filmmaker Bent-Jorgen Perlmutt’s special presentation on his creative process in constructing his portrait of Cuba’s top underground drag racers of classic American cars. A year later, the film is now complete, and GEMS is delighted to bring Perlmutt back to Miami to share the finished work.
Showtimes: Friday, October 23rd @ 7:00pm and Saturday, October 24th @ 1:30pm
Directed by Nanni Moretti
Nanni Moretti’s Mia Madre is possibly his most personal film, and a master class on autobiographical cinema. It displays without question why Moretti is considered one of the most skilled living filmmakers to create powerful universal drama out of our smallest little big tragedies. John Turturro co-stars. Winner of the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury at Cannes 2015.
Showtimes: Friday, October 23 @ 7:15pm and Sunday, October 25th @ 8:45pm
THE CLUB (EL CLUB)
Directed by Pablo Larraín
Director Pablo Larraín’s follow-up to his global success and Oscar-nominated No, (starring Gael García Bernal), is a tough, scathing and psychologically sobering indictment on the Catholic Church’s handling of moral failings within the institution. Winner of the Grand Jury Prize at Berlin 2015.
Showtimes: Friday, October 23 @ 9:15pm
EMBRACE OF THE SERPENT (EL ABRAZO DE LA SERPIENTE)
Directed by Ciro Guerra
Guerra’s previous film, The Wind Journeys (2009), was an international hit and one of the 2010 Festival’s most popular films in Miami. For his new film, Guerra travels deep into the wilds of the Amazon jungle, and into the dangerous territory of the historical past. This is an epic and thrilling journey, capped with velvety, rich black & white cinematography, confirming Guerra’s status as one of Latin America’s most confident talents. Winner of the Director’s Fortnight Prize at Cannes 2015.
Showtimes: Friday, October 23 @ 9:30pm and Sunday, October 25 @ 2:30pm
Having composed the music for more than 130 productions, including dozens of the most memorable and successful films of the past three decades, James Horner was among the world’s most prolific and beloved film composers. Tragically, Horner died this past June, when his single-engine crashed in a remote area of northern California. One of his final scores is Patricia Riggen’s The 33, our GEMS closing night film. Horner’s work in The 33 is a large part of the movie’s incredible accomplishments – his music works expertly to stir our emotions and grip us deeper into the characters’ drama without ever being obtrusive. Horner, a two-time Academy Award winner, has left a legacy of some of the most influential and acclaimed music in the history of cinema.
On the eve of the premiere of The 33, Miami-based feature film composer Carlos Rafael Rivera takes an in-depth look at Horner’s work and career, using cues to demonstrate the powerful, yet often subtle, creative influence Horner brought to specific scenes and entire films. Beginning with one of Horner’s breakthrough accomplishments, the revered Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982), and continuing on through multiple films (includingGlory and Titanic), Rivera provides a compelling insight into the creative contributions of the film composer, and the special connection between composer and director.
Date: Saturday, October 24 @ 12pm
Directed by Pablo Trapero
The notorious Puccio case that stunned Argentina 30 years ago has lost none of its power to shock, outrage and chill. A member of the secret police of the Videla military regime of the late 70s and early 80s, it was Arquimedes Puccio’s job to kidnap dissidents during the reign of terror where more than 30,000 citizens simply “disappeared”. But after the fall of the regime, the upper middle-class Puccio kept right on going, kidnapping his rich neighbors and demanding huge ransoms – and then killing the victims even after the ransoms were paid. Winner of the Best Director award at Venice 2015.
Showtimes: Saturday, October 24 @ 11:45am and 6:45pm
MY GOLDEN DAYS
Directed by Arnaud Desplechin
After years working abroad, anthropologist Paul Dedalus (Mathieu Amalric) returns to France to find an explosive emotional time bomb awaits him. This epic coming of age tale portrays first love as a candid, sensual and unique experience that his alter-ego discovers could leave a mark that will last as long as life itself. Winner of the Director’s Fortnight at Cannes 2015.
Showtimes: Saturday, October 24th @ 2:00pm
Directed by Nir Bergman
Like a “living thunderbolt”, the bold and nonconformist Yona Wallach stormed through Tel-Aviv’s male-dominated political and poetry circles in the 1960s. Yona’s work eventually became recognized in the most prominent literary books and magazines of her time, and she was honored with the Israeli Prime Minister’s Literary Award in 1978. Director Nir Bergman’s biopic vividly captures Yona’s highs, lows and her brave rebellion against a chauvinistic society with her unique voice.
Showtimes: Saturday, October 24th @ 3:45pm and Sunday, October 25th @ 12:00pm
IT’S NOW OR NEVER (AHORA O NUNCA)
Directed by Maria Ripoll
This summer’s biggest homegrown box office hit in Spain,It’s Now or Never pairs Spain’s newest film star, Dani Rovira, whose charms help propel Spanish Affair (Ocho apellidos vascos) to become Spain’s all-time box office champion, with the luminous Goya winner María Valverde, who gets a rare opportunity to demonstrate her comedic gifts. The result is a frothy, frisky comedy of first-class creative power, expertly timed and filled with joyous performances, from the leads to the delightful character actors found in even the smallest roles. Clara Lago andAlicia Rubio co-star in this comedy that once again proves no one does inspired silliness quite like the Spanish.
Showtimes: Saturday, October 24 @ 4:30pm and Sunday, October 25 @ 12:30pm
Directed by Trey Edward Shults
Winner of both the Grand Jury Price and the Audience Award at SXSW earlier this year, Trey Edward Shults’ highly personal and compelling hypnotic drama was also selected at this year’s Critics Week in Cannes. Shults has already drawn comparisons to the work of legendary American independent director John Cassavetes for their use of family members in the cast and also their maverick avant-garde style of shooting favoring characters and scenes that envelop the viewer in both observation and emotion.
Showtimes: Saturday, October 24 @ 6:30pm
Directed by Paolo Sorrentino
The space (and communion) between the generations is the subject of Paolo Sorrentino’s newest Fellini-tinged masterpiece. Coming off his 2014 Oscar win for Best Foreign-Language Film for The Great Beauty, the Italian auteur is on a roll, orchestrating grand themes around life’s wisdom with a phenomenal cast of actors including Michael Caine, Harvey Keitel, Rachel Weisz, and Jane Fonda.
Showtimes: Saturday, October 24th @ 9:00pm
A PERFECT DAY
Directed by Fernando León de Aranoa
Spanish director Fernando León de Aranoa makes his first English language film with this Cannes-debuting tale of 24 hours in the lives of two veteran humanitarian aid workers in the waning days of the 1995 Balkan War. Veteran Hollywood stars Benicio del Toro and Tim Robbins are in fine form as the leads, who hold on to their boyish charms even as they age with graceful wisdom.
Showtimes: Saturday October 24th @ 9:30pm
Directed by Hou Hsiao-Hsien
In 9th century China, 10-year-old Nie Yinniang is abducted by a nun who transforms her into an impressive warrior. One day, she is sent back to the land of her birth, with orders to kill the man whom she was promised, and Nie Yinniang must choose: assassinate the man she loves or break forever from the sacred honor of her training. Winner of the Best Director award at Cannes 2015.
Showtimes: Sunday, October 25 @ 2:45pm
CLOSING NIGHT FILM – FOLLOWED BY CLOSING NIGHT PARTY
(USA / Chile)
Directed by Patricia Riggen
An international rescue effort to save 33 Chilean miners trapped 2,300 foot underground for 69 days in the Copiapó mine riveted over a billion people in 2010, and now a superb international film adaptation recreates the details of that unprecedented event. The epic list of cast names includes Antonio Banderas, Juliette Binoche and Rodrigo Santoro.
Showtimes: Sunday, October 25 @ 6pm