Miami Film Festival GEMS 2017 Announces Headliners – “The Florida Project,” “Call Me By Your Name,” “The Square,” “Life and Nothing More,” Haitian-Miami Filmmakers Edson Jean & Joshua Jean-Baptiste and Virtual Reality

Miami, FL — Organizers of Miami Dade College’s (MDC) Miami Film Festival unveiled the full line-up of their acclaimed Miami GEMS Festival today, and among the many highlights will be the Miami premiere of Sean Baker’s The Florida Project and the US premiere of Antonio Méndez Esparza’s Florida film Life and Nothing More.

Miami GEMS 2017 Festival, now in its third year, will take place Oct. 12 – 15, at MDC’s Tower Theater Miami. Miami GEMS 2017 Festival is a fall extension of the annual, internationally-renowned Miami Film Festival that celebrates its 35th edition, March 9 – 18, 2018.

Luca Guadagnino’s Call Me By Your Name, easily one of 2017’s most critically lauded and Oscar-buzzed titles, is the Opening Night Film of Miami GEMS 2017 and its Florida premiere on Thursday, Oct. 12, will be followed by A TASTE OF ALTA ITALIA Opening Night Party held to celebrate October’s annual nationwide Italian Heritage Month. Another major highlight among the best offerings of world cinema of the moment includes Ruben Östlund’s The Square, winner of the prestigious Palme d’Or at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, from a jury presided over by Pedro Almodóvar.

A special presentation of Miami GEMS 2017 Festival will be a seminar conversation entitled Don’t Take Yes For An Answer, featuring Miami-Haitian filmmakers Edson Jean and Joshua Jean-Baptiste speaking about their recently-wrapped, eight-episode web series “Vakabon”, 100% filmed in Miami and due for release in 2018. The $2.5 million series was born out of a winning pitch that the Miami duo made to the Project Greenlight Digital Studio’s first “Get The Greenlight Digital Series” contest in early 2016.

For the first time, Miami Film Festival will introduce a Virtual Reality (VR) sidebar throughout the Miami GEMS 2017 weekend, VR Escape, in partnership with MDC’s Miami Animation & Gaming International Complex (MAGIC). Festivalgoers will experience four 360° videos by Angel Manuel Soto, an L.A. based Puerto Rican artist and filmmaker and Miami Film Festival alumni (Soto’s feature The Farm (La granja) played in competition at the Festival’s 2015 edition).

Miami GEMS 2017’s Miami premiere of The Florida Project will take place as a Festival preview on Oct. 5, at Tower Theater Miami, with filmmaker Sean Baker (Tangerine), among others from the production, presenting the film in person. The Florida Project is distributed by A24 Films, the company that shepherded the Miami-based Moonlight to Oscar glory,

These films, events and parties will continue to grow Miami’s film culture and trust in the Festival for bringing the best of world cinema to South Florida throughout the year. The full Miami GEMS 2017 Festival slate includes:

  1. Call Me By Your Name (Italy / France), directed by Luca Guadagnino *OPENING NIGHT FILM

A work of tenderness and beauty from the acclaimed director of splashy, sensual films as I Am Love and A Bigger Splash. An antiquities academic invites a young American Jewish scholar to stay with his family for a summer in Lombardy, with unexpected results. Starring Armie Hammer, Timothée Chalamet and Michael Stuhlbarg. A Sony Pictures Classics release.

  1. Can’t Say Goodbye (No se decir adios) (Spain), directed by Lino Escalera *NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE  *LINO ESCALERA IN PERSON **PRECEDED BY A BRUNCH AT ELLA’S OYSTER BAR

Spanish stars Nathalie Poza, Lola Dueñas and Juan Diego deliver some of the finest performances of their careers in this multi-award winning hit from the 2017 Malaga Film Festival. A family in crisis, a daughter in denial, a moment of truth…

  1. The Desert Bride (La novia del desierto) (Argentina/Chile), directed by Cecilia Atán and Valeria Pivato

Starring the incomparable Chilean star Paulina Garcia (Gloria), this Cannes Un Certain Regard competitor is a beautiful road trip across the Argentine countryside. A Buenos Aires housekeeper who is let go after 3 decades of working for the same family must travel 700 miles for a new position in San Juan, but early in the voyage she loses all of her earthly possessions.

  1. Don’t Take Yes For An Answer: Edson Jean, Joshua Jean-Baptiste and VAKABON (USA), in conversation with Festival director Jaie Laplante

Co-creators of the upcoming eight-episode web series “Vakabon” Edson Jean and Joshua Jean-Baptiste will candidly discuss the journey from shooting no-budget test-episodes to working with a 70-person crew and over 50 Miami-based actors on one epic Miami summer shoot.

  1. Eric Clapton: Life in 12 Bars (UK), directed by Lili Fini Zanuck

Only the second woman ever to win an Academy Award for Best Picture, Lili Fini Zanuck (Driving Miss Daisy) has made an epic and emotionally overwhelming portrait of one of the great rock musicians of all-time. This will be a rare chance to see this incredible documentary in a big-screen, theatrical setting.

  1. Faces Places (France), directed by Agnès Varda and JR

Winner of the L’Oeil d’Or (Golden Eye) awarded by the French Writers Society as Best Documentary at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival, the legendary French director, a pioneer of the French New Wave alongside Jean-Luc Godard, partners with a young street artist with an enormous Instagram following for a whimsical exploration of the small French villages of Varda’s memories.

  1. The Florida Project (USA), directed by Sean Baker *MIAMI GEMS 2017 PREVIEW FILM  *SEAN BAKER IN PERSON

In constructing the most magical place on Earth, Disney planners would refer what would eventually become Walt Disney World in Orlando as “the Florida project”. Yet on the outskirts of the world’s most visited vacation resort lies a less cheerful façade, where a 22-year-old single mother of a six-year-old struggles to survive and create a sense of family on the margins. Willem Dafoe stars as the manager and sometimes father figure of a roadside motel on the outskirts of Orlando, in Sean Baker’s acclaimed film from Director’s Fortnight in Cannes 2017.

  1. In The Fade (Germany), directed by Fatih Akin


With a ferocious performance by Diane Kruger (the Best Actress winner at 2017 Cannes Film Festival), Fatih Akin explores our new world realities of terrorism impinging ever closer to home. A German woman’s world collapses when her Turkish husband and young son are murdered in a domestic radicalist’s bomb attack.

  1. Life and Nothing More (Spain/USA), directed by Antonio Méndez Esparza


An invigorating work of modern neorealism set on the fringes of urban Florida, Spanish writer-director Esparza displays an astonishing grasp of the conundrum of race, family and justice that suffuse our contemporary America. Life and Nothing More is essential cinema for our present moment.

  1. My Friend Dahmer (USA), directed by Marc Meyers

With an astonishing central performance by Disney star Ross Lynch, this Tribeca Film Festival 2017 special presentation is a brilliant re-creation of pre-psycho 1970s jitters, and a devastating indictment of our society’s ability to cope with early detection signs of mental illness.

  1. No, a Flamenco Tale (Spain), directed by José Luis Tirado

A beguiling fusion of thrilling cinema and passionate music, NO, a Flamenco Tale sweeps us off to a land where the joys and hardships of life are expressed in breathtaking spectacle and song.

  1. Son of Sofia (Greece / France / Bulgaria), directed by Elina Psikou

Winner of Best International Narrative Feature at 2017 Tribeca Film Festival. A fantastical journey through an 11-year-old Russian boy’s fraught collision with the bewildering logic of the world of adults, when his mother sends for him to join her in Athens, Greece, where she introduces him to his harsh new Greek stepfather.

  1. The Square (Sweden), directed by Ruben Östlund


The 2017 Palme d’Or winner is the first comedy to win the top prize at Cannes Film Festival in 23 years. From Ruben Östlund, director of the international hit Force Majeure, a jaw-dropping art-world satire. Starring Claes Bang, Elisabeth Moss and Dominic West.

  1. Summer 1993 (Estiu 1993) (Spain), directed by Carla Simón


Winner of the Best First Feature Film award at the 2017 Berlin Film Festival, and the Grand Prize for Best Spanish Film at the 2017 Malaga Film Festival.  In one sun-dappled, perfect summer, Frida will grow up more than any six-year-old should ever be expected to, as her new young step-parents struggle with the smiles and the tears.

  1. The Workshop (France), directed by Laurent Cantet

Cantet’s follow-up to his Havana, Cuba film Return to Ithaca is a profound examination of contemporary education in all its social and pedagogical complexities. Returning to his native France, The Workshop is also a nail-biting thriller.

  1. VR Escape (USA), four works by Angel Manuel Soto

An installation at MDC’s Tower Theater for the entire GEMS weekend will allow Festivalgoers to experience the new frontier of content creation via four short new works by Miami Film Festival alumni Soto.

Tickets will go on sale to Miami Film Society members exclusively today, Tuesday, Sept. 19,  and to the general public on Friday, Sept. 22. Tickets: 1-844-565-6433 (MIFF) or . Opening Night Film + Italian Party $50 for general // $40 for Miami Film Society members. All other screenings $13 adults, $12 seniors, $10 members, $10 students, Seminars $9 (MDC students FREE with student ID). Sunday Can’t Say Goodbye Brunch at Ella’s Oyster Bar $50. Group rates are available.

For membership opportunities or more information, visit or call 305-237-FILM (3456). Miami Film Festival is the only major film festival event housed within a college or university.

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About Miami Dade College’s Miami Film Festival                                                      

Celebrating cinema in two annual events, Miami 2017 GEMS Festival October 12-15, 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

MDC’s Miami Film Festival Media Relations Contacts:


Adam Kersh, Brigade | +1 917-580-6785 |
Guillermo Restrepo, Brigade | +1 917-580-6785 |


Salazar PR, Andrea Salazar | Tel: +1 954-756-0652 |
Clique PR, Dina Allende | Tel: +1 305-205-1058 |