Miami, FL (March 14, 2021) – Stories that span two hemispheres – from the culture shock of a Cuban ballet dancer who relocates to Florida, to the wartime plight of a UN translator in Bosnia and Herzegovina – have earned top prizes at the 38th edition of Miami Dade College’s (MDC) acclaimed Miami Film Festival. Presented in a hybrid format this year, with both in-theater and virtual presentations, the 2021 Festival ran from March 5-14.
Making its U.S. Premiere at this year’s Festival was the Balkan war drama Quo Vadis, Aida?, directed by Jasmila Žbanić, representing Bosnia and Herzegovina’s official submission shortlisted for this year’s Academy Awards. This hard-hitting feature earned the Festival’s top prize, the $25,000 Knight MARIMBAS Award, supported by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, an international competition for new narrative feature films that best exemplify richness and resonance for cinema’s future. The winning film was selected by jury members Mollye Asher, Claire Breukel, and Samuel Kishi Leopo, winner of last year’s $10,000 Ibero-American Feature Film Award. Quo Vadis, Aida? was also selected by film critics as winner of this year’s Rene Rodriguez Critics Award.
Another first outing, making its North American premiere at the Festival, Cuban Dancer, a poignant documentary directed by Roberto Salinas, won the $45,000 Knight Made in MIA Feature Film Award, supported by Knight Foundation. The award goes to a feature film that has a substantial portion of its content in South Florida and that best utilizes its story and theme for universal resonance. This year’s winning film, a co-production of Italy, Canada and Chile, was selected by jury members Dudley Alexis, Aeden O’Connor Agurcia and Carmen Pelaez.
Lorelei, a U.S.-made working-class fable directed by Sabrina Doyle, garnered the $10,000 Jordan Ressler First Feature Award. This honor, sponsored by the South Florida family of the late Jordan Ressler, is presented to the best film made by a filmmaker making a feature narrative film debut. The winning film was selected by jury members Kira Davis, Karen Foster, and Gonzalo Maza, who won last year’s $10,000 Jordan Ressler First Feature Award for This is Cristina.
The Henry Rincón-directed film from Colombia, The City of Wild Beasts (La Ciudad de las Fieras), was a World Premiere at this year’s Festival and walked away with the $10,000 WarnerMedia Ibero-American Feature Film Award. The winning film was selected by jury members Leslie Cohen, Miguel Ángel Jiménez, and Ingride Santos, who won last year’s $5,000 Ibero-American Short Film Award. This was the second Miami Film Festival award for The City of Wild Beasts, with editor Raphael Lubzanksi earlier winning the 2021 Miami Film Festival Best Trailer Award presented by Oolite Arts, as selected by juror Benjamin Courtines.
Shortlisted for this year’s Academy Awards Live-Action Short category, “The Present,” directed by Farah Nabulsi, took the Miami International Short Film Award, as judged by select members of the Miami Film Festival’s Program Committee.
In the other short film categories, “Caro Comes Out,” directed by Brit Fryer and Caro Hernandez, took the $10,000 Knight Made in MIA Short Film Award, supported by Knight Foundation. The award honors a film under 30 minutes of any genre that features a qualitatively and quantitatively substantial portion of its content in South Florida and that best utilizes its story and theme for universal resonance. The winner was selected by jury members Dudley Alexis, Alicia K. Harris and Aaron Stewart-Ahn.
For his work in Riz Ahmed’s British drama Mogul Mowgli, composer Paul Corley earned the $5,000 Alacran Music In Film Award, sponsored by Alacran Group, which highlights the power of music in film and celebrates the role of the film composer. The winner was selected by judges Julio Bagué, Federico Durán and André Lopes.
As previously announced, “Asi en la Tierra” by Joel Vázquez Cárdenas won the $5,000 WarnerMedia Ibero-American Short Film Award. Internationally acclaimed Spanish visual artist Raul Monage earned this year’s Miami Film Festival Best Poster Award, presented by Oolite Arts, for his work on Christos Nikou’s Apples, as judged by Xavier Ruffin and Sev DeMy.
In some categories, jury members noted honorable mentions or runners-up. The Knight Made in MIA Award jury cited Edson Jean’s Ludi for a special mention, for “beautiful filmmaking that captures the truisms and mores of the Haitian community in Miami, succinctly and tenderly, that moved all of us.“ The WarnerMedia Ibero-American Short Film Award jury named four runners-up, including “Calladita”, “For Rosa”, “The Insomnia Plague” and “The Name of the Son”. The Best Trailer Award runner-up was The Saint of the Impossible; and the Best Poster Award runner-up was 1991.
The winner of the Documentary Achievement Award and the Audience Award for Feature & Short, determined by a vote from members of the Festival’s public audience, will be announced on Tuesday, March 16.
About Miami Dade College’s Miami Film Festival
Miami Film Festival is an international film event that serves as a major film showcase for world cinema. Considered the preeminent film festival for highlighting Ibero-American cinema in the U.S, Miami Film Festival has become renowned for championing films made by the South Florida community, first-time feature filmmakers, and International Feature Film submissions to the Academy Awards. The annual Festival, produced and presented by Miami Dade College, attracts more than 60,000 audience members and more than 400 filmmakers, producers, talent, and industry professionals. Since 1984, the Festival has screened over 2,500 films from more than 75 countries and given out more than $2 million USD in cash awards to filmmakers and distributors. Miami Film Festival is the oldest major festival housed in a university or college and also operates a year-round art cinema, Tower Theater Miami and Miami Film Festival GEMS in October. Major Festival sponsors include Knight Foundation, American Airlines, Miami-Dade County, Telemundo, NBC 6, Estrella Damm, Silverspot Cinema, and JW Marriott Marquis. For more information, visit miamifilmfestival.com or call 305-237-FILM (3456).
About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
Knight Foundation is a national foundation with strong local roots. We invest in journalism, in the arts, and in the success of cities where brothers John S. and James L. Knight once published newspapers. Our goal is to foster informed and engaged communities, which we believe are essential for a healthy democracy. For more, visit KF.org.
WarnerMedia is a leading media and entertainment company that creates and distributes premium and popular content from a diverse array of talented storytellers and journalists to global audiences through its consumer brands including: HBO, HBO Max, Warner Bros., TNT, TBS, truTV, CNN, DC, New Line, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, Turner Classic Movies and others. The organization also includes Xandr’s suite of advanced advertising solutions designed to help to improve advertising for brands, publishers, and consumers.
About Jordan Alexander Ressler Charitable Fund
The Jordan Ressler First Feature Award at Miami Film Festival recognizes and supports artists in their careers as professional screenwriters. It was created by the South Florida family of Jordan Alexander Ressler, an aspiring screenwriter and Cornell University film studies graduate who, during his brief entertainment career, held production positions with the Tony award-winning Broadway hits 700 Sundays with Billy Crystal and Jersey Boys.
About Alacran Group
Alacran Group is an independent entertainment company based in Miami and London and was born out of a deep love and passion for music and film. Alacran’s mission to turn dreams into reality and believes that the creative combination of sound and moving images deeply enriches the emotional experience.
About Oolite Arts
Oolite Arts helps Miami-based artists advance their careers and inspires the cultural community to engage with their work. Established in 1984, Oolite Arts is both a community and a resource, providing visual artists with the studio space, exhibition opportunities and financial support they need to experiment, grow and enrich the city. Through its educational programming, Oolite Arts helps Miamians learn about contemporary art and develop their own artistic skills. For more, visit oolitearts.org.
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MDC’s Miami Film Festival Media Relations Contacts
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