Pedro Almodóvar, Fernando Meirelles & Bong Joon-ho Films to Headline MDC’s Miami Film Festival GEMS 2019

PAIN AND GLORY to Open; THE TWO POPES Selected for Centerpiece; PARASITE to Close; Kore-eda Hirokazu’s THE TRUTH Screening Dedicated to Associate Producer Ken Liu; Highlights Include Edward Norton’s MOTHERLESS BROOKLYN and Shia LaBeouf in HONEY BOY, Cannes Winner PORTRAIT OF A LADY ON FIRE and Sundance Winner CLEMENCY

Miami, FL — Miami Dade College’s (MDC) renowned, 37-year-old Miami Film Festival unveiled the full line-up of their acclaimed Miami Film Festival GEMS event today. Iconic Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodóvar’s Pain and Glory starring Antonio Banderas and Penélope Cruz will open the Festival, with Brazilian filmmaker Fernando Meirelles’ The Two Popes starring Anthony Hopkins and Jonathan Pryce selected as Centerpiece. GEMS will unfold Oct. 10 – 13, at MDC’s Tower Theater Miami.

Five films in Miami Film Festival GEMS are the first selections of the season to compete for Festival’s top award, the $40,000 Knight MARIMBAS Award, a juried prize for a film that best exemplifies richness and resonance for cinema’s future. The competition will be top-lined by Closing Night selection and recent Cannes Palme d’Or winner Parasite, from Korean filmmaker Bong Joon-ho, a piercing black comedy of social class divide.

The MARIMBAS Award, supported by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, is named after the marimba, a variation of the xylophone that produces a deeper, richer and more resonant tone. The additional four films announced in this competition are By the Grace of God (France, directed by François Ozon), Clemency (USA, directed by Chinonye Chukwu), Portrait of a Lady on Fire (France, directed by Céline Sciamma) and Staff Only (Spain, directed by Neus Ballús).

Three extraordinary passion projects will receive Spotlight screenings at GEMS, beginning with Kore-eda Hirokazu’s French-language The Truth, his first film outside of his native Japan, conceived by Kore-eda as a tribute to the great screen icon Catherine Deneuve. Miami Film Festival director Jaie Laplante dedicated the GEMS screening of The Truth to another Kore-eda inspiration, Chinese-American author Ken Liu, whose short story “Memories of My Mother” serves as a key thematic subplot in the film. Liu is additionally credited as an associate producer on The Truth. The GEMS screening of Kore-eda’s film will be preceded by David Gaddie’s 2017 short “Beautiful Dreamer”, an adaptation of the same Liu story featured in The Truth.

The “passion project” Spotlight screenings continue with Honey Boy, directed by Alma Har’el, written by and starring Shia LaBeouf, based on his own experiences as a child actor and early adult life coping with his divorced father’s mental health issues; and Motherless Brooklyn from Edward Norton, who wrote, directed and stars in the film, fulfilling a 20-year-drive to adapt Jonathan Lethem’s 1999 bestseller to the big screen.

Four films represent the first titles announced for the Festival’s season of programming in other major award categories. Competing for the $10,000 Jordan Ressler First Feature Film Award will be French filmmaker Ladj Ly’s Les Misérables and American filmmaker Carlo Mirabella-Davis’ Swallow. The latter film will be the subject of a post-screening critical discussion with Miami film critics, moderated by Miami Film Festival’s Lauren Cohen.

Competing for the Documentary Achievement Award is Alan Berliner’s Letter to the Editor, an epic ode to the free press as represented by personal archives of photographs culled from The New York Times over a 40-year period. The Festival is dedicating its GEMS screening of the film to Miami Herald investigative reporter Julie K. Brown, who recently received a George Polk Award for her 2018 series of articles, “Perversion of Justice”, on the Jeffrey Epstein case.

Competing for the Ibero-American Feature Film Award will be Spanish filmmaker Dani de la Orden’s drama Litus, featuring an all-star cast of Spanish actors including Quim Gutiérrez, Belén Cuesta, Miquel Fernández, Alex García (a Miami Film Festival favorite from his 2015 visit with the Audience Award-winning Kamikaze), Adrián Lastra, and Marta Nieto.

Two feel-good comedies that have been box office smashes in their home countries complete the balance of the GEMS 2019 line-up. Wayne Blair’s Top End Wedding, the top-grossing domestic film of the year in Australia, is a hilarious and touching story in the spirit of his 2012 global hit The Sapphires; and Taxi to Treasure Rock, a Spanish-Argentine production directed by Alejo Flah and starring Dani Rovira, is a road trip comedy that is one of the top four most popular domestic releases in Spain thus far in 2019.

The Spanish-language screenings of Pain and Glory, Staff Only, Litus and Taxi To Treasure Rock are partially sponsored by Viendomovies. The French-language screenings of The Truth, By the Grace of God, Portrait of a Lady on Fire and Les Misérables are partially sponsored by TV5 Monde USA.

Tickets for the GEMS 2019 will be on sale exclusively for Miami Film Society members beginning Sept 5, and on sale to the general public beginning Sept 12th, at

About Miami Dade College’s Miami Film Festival                               
Celebrating cinema in two annual events, Miami Film Festival GEMS, October 10-13, 2019 and its 37th annual edition March 6 – 15, 2020, 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 2019-20 Festival season include Knight Foundation, Estrella Damm, American Airlines, Telemundo and Miami-Dade County. For more information, visit 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.

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 ViendoMovies
ViendoMovies is a Pay TV channel that broadcasts contemporary, exclusive originally produced in Spanish-language films, 24 hours a day with no commercial breaks, in a premium, culturally relevant on air look. ViendoMovies is produced in the US for the Hispanic and Puerto Rico markets and is part of SOMOSTV LLC. For more information please visit us at and

TV5MONDE is the global French language entertainment network and the leading broadcaster of French language films in the U.S. with programming 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, without commercial interruptions. TV5MONDE USA is a premium pay-tv channel reaching 1.5 million American viewers. Audiences enjoy a wealth of French language programming, subtitled in English, including up to 300 classic, recent and never-before-seen in the U.S. French language films, newscasts live from Paris, the latest series and TV dramas, premium documentaries, cultural programs and international sports coverage. TV5MONDE is available via cable, satellite and streaming. For more information about TV5MONDE USA, visit:

MDC’s Miami Film Festival Media Relations Contacts:

Steven Wilson, Scenario PR | 310-497-4951 |

Emmanuel Genao, Miami Film Festival, 305-237-7790 |