Miami Dade College’s Acclaimed Miami Film Festival Announces Call for Entries for 35th Season

New in 2018, award category celebrates South Florida stories; and IMDbPro to Sponsor “Best Short Film Award” for next 3 years

The Festival is accepting submissions now, exclusively via Withoutabox

Miami, Florida – Organizers of the internationally-celebrated Miami Dade College’s (MDC) Miami Film Festival today opened submissions for Official Selection to its 35th annual season, to include both its fall showcase GEMS, scheduled October 12 – 15, and the 35th edition of the Festival to be held March 9 – 18, 2018. Considered the top venue in the U.S. for emerging Ibero-American cinema, the Festival seeks the latest works in any genre by debut, emerging and veteran filmmakers for various competition and non-competition categories, including features, documentaries, shorts, experimental cinema and Florida-centric stories.

New for 2018, Festival Director Jaie Laplante unveiled a new competition category, dubbed Knight Made in MIA Award, courtesy of the Festival’s long-time, esteemed partner the John S. & James L. Knight Foundation. The award category, which features a $10,000 cash prize, is open to any film – short or feature, documentary or narrative – in the Festival’s Official Selection that features a qualitatively/quantitatively substantial portion of its content (story, setting and actual filming location) in South Florida, from West Palm to the Keys, and that most universally demonstrates a common ground of pride, emotion, and faith for the South Florida community.

“With the international success of the Oscar-winning Moonlight, we saw as never before how our South Florida stories could have a global impact,” said Laplante. “We hope this new prize will continue to draw attention to the power and grace of South Florida stories, and inspire filmmakers to continue striving to tell those stories.”

“After years of hard work and successful film festival runs, South Florida’s independent filmmakers are having their moment,” said Victoria Rogers, vice president for arts at Knight Foundation. “We hope this award helps fuel more ideas, that not only reflect our community but continue to help shape our identity and present the range of voices that make this community special.”

Headlining the 35th Miami Film Festival will be its signature Knight Competition, which presents Achievement Awards totaling $40,000 in cash courtesy of Knight Foundation. Open to all new feature films of any genre directed by filmmakers who have directed at least one Official Selection (feature) at a previous edition of Miami Film Festival, the category’s top prize is to be split equally between the film’s lead production company and the US distributor (if none, a 30-day window opens for a sales agent to complete any US theatrical sale).

Knight Foundation will continue to sponsor an additional category, the Knight Documentary Achievement Award, which is voted on by the Festival audience, and awards $10,000 to the most popular film. The film Take My Nose…Please!, from 89-year old first-time filmmaker Joan Kron, took home the prize in 2017, highlighting the Festival’s continued commitment to showcasing work from debut filmmakers from all walks of life.

Also returning this year is the Jordan Ressler Screenwriter Award category, which features a $10,000 cash prize for screenwriters who have a first-produced feature screenplay credit in an eligible feature film. Laplante called on producers and rights holders of new films that would fit the Jordan Ressler Award criteria to especially consider honoring the talents of their new screenwriters by submitting their films to Miami Film Festival this year.

The important Ibero-American Feature Film Competition, which is open to all U.S. Hispanic and Ibero-American films in the Official Selection, making a minimum of a Florida Premiere, which compete for a jury-selected cash achievement award of $10,000.

The Festival is also proud to announce that IMDbPro, the essential resource for entertainment industry professionals, will be title sponsor for the Festival’s IMDbPro Short Film Competition, which awards $2,500 cash to the best short eligible for the official competition. IMDbPro will also sponsor this category for the 2019 and 2020 editions of Miami Film Festival.

Returning for a second year is the coveted Rene Rodriguez Critics Award, named for the Miami Herald’s chief film critic from 1995 to 2017. All film critics covering the 2018 Festival will be eligible to vote for their choice of the best film in the Festival.

A variety of non-competitive categories, including Cinema 360, a sampling of the finest of international cinema; and MIFFecito, the Festival’s family-friendly section, are also now open for submissions.

Leading up to the 35th annual Festival will be the organization’s annual fall showcase festival, GEMS 2017, highlighting award winners from top international film festivals such as Sundance, Berlin and Cannes; Oscar-contenders; and international box office sensations. GEMS 2017 will present its annual Gigi Guermont Audience Award to the most popular film of the 4-day festival, as voted on by GEMS ticket buyers. Celebrities and filmmakers who attended previous editions of GEMS include actors and personalities Don Francisco, Kate del Castillo, Guillermo Francella, Rodrigo Santoro, Juan Pablo Raba, Antonia Zegers, and filmmakers Pablo Trapero, Trey Edward Shults, Patricia Riggen, Maria Ripoll, Mariana Chenillo and Ernesto Daranas.

To qualify for the 2018 Festival, all films must have realized their world premiere after March 2017 and may not be scheduled for theatrical release or commercial broadcast in the U.S. before March 18, 2018, except for non-competition short films and titles submitted to the CinemaSlam student film competition category.

The Festival exclusively accepts submissions via Withoutabox’s Secure Online Screener (SOS) system. No submissions on DVDs will be accepted.

For a complete set of official rules and regulations and/or to submit a film, visit For additional information:  or +1 305-237-FILM (3456).


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About Miami Dade College’s Miami Film Festival

Celebrating cinema in two annual events, the 2017 GEMS Festival October 12-15, 2017 and its 35th annual edition March 9 – 18, 2018, Miami Dade College’s Miami Film Festival is considered the preeminent film festival for showcasing Ibero-American cinema in the U.S., and a major launch pad for all international and documentary cinema. The annual Festival more than 60,000 audience members and more than 400 filmmakers, producers, talent and industry professionals. It is the only major festival housed within a college or university. In the last five years, the Festival has screened films from more than 60 countries, including 300 World, International, North American, U.S. and East Coast Premieres. Miami Film Festival’s special focus on Ibero-American cinema has made the Festival a natural gateway for the discovery of new talent from this diverse territory. The Festival also offers unparalleled educational opportunities to film students and the community at large. Major sponsors of the 2017-18 Festival season include Knight Foundation, American Airlines and Miami-Dade County. For more information, visit or call 305-237-FILM (3456).


About Culture at Miami Dade College
The Cultural Affairs Department of Miami Dade College (MDC) is composed of the Miami Book Fair, Miami Film Festival, Tower Theater Miami, Koubek Center, Freedom Tower, MDC Live Arts and MDC Galleries and Museum of Art + Design. MDC is committed to providing its community with the opportunity to come in contact with innovative thinkers, creators and tradition bearers from around the world. With each presentation, MDC offers a bridge between cultures and ideas, creating new opportunities for the increasingly diverse population of Miami to come together through shared live arts experiences. For more information, visit

About John S. & James L. Knight Foundation

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. The foundation believes that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit


About Jordan Alexander Ressler Charitable Fund
The Jordan Alexander Ressler Charitable Fund of the Jewish Community Foundation of San Diego was created by the South Florida family of the late 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 IMDbPro and Withoutabox

IMDbPro ( is the essential resource for entertainment industry professionals. This membership-based service includes comprehensive information and tools that are designed to help entertainment industry professionals achieve success throughout all stages of their career. IMDbPro offers members the following: detailed contact and representation information; IMDb profile management tools; exclusive STARmeter rankings that are determined by page views on IMDb; a casting service to post breakdowns and apply to roles, a mobile optimized website and more. IMDbPro is owned and operated by IMDb, the #1 movie website in the world. Additionally, IMDb owns and operates Withoutabox (, the premier submission service for film festivals and filmmakers.