Miami-Dade College’s acclaimed Miami Film Festival will return to present its 39th annual edition March 4-13, in a hybrid format, with both in-theater and virtual presentations. The 2022 festival will celebrate more than 120 feature narratives, documentaries, and short films of all genres, from more than 35 countries worldwide.
“The collective spirit of joy and gratitude that we felt from patrons and filmmakers at last year’s shared in-person theatrical screenings strengthened the always creative heart of Miami Film Festival,” said Jaie Laplante, the festival’s executive director. “As we take all necessary precautions to ensure the continued safety of our patrons, we look forward to completing our fourth decade of programming by shining a light on some truly new and veteran outstanding creative cinematic talents.”
The festival will present its Precious Gem Awards to Ryusuke Hamaguchi and Ramin Bahrani. The Precious Gem Award is the festival’s signature award, reserved for one-of-a-kind artists whose contributions to cinema are lasting and unforgettable. Hamaguchi is the Japanese director and writer of films such as Asako I & II, Wheel of Fortune & Fantasy, and the 2021 arthouse hit Drive My Car, which was awarded “Best Film” from the LA Film Critics Association, the New York Film Critics Circle, and the National Society of Film Critics; “Best Screenplay” at the Cannes Film Festival; and more than 50 additional accolades, making it one of the year’s most universally acclaimed films. Drive My Car has been shortlisted for the 2022 Academy Award for Best International Feature. Bahrani is the Academy Award-nominated Iranian-American writer, director and producer of such films as Man Push Cart, Chop Shop, 99 Homes, The White Tiger and the new documentary 2nd Chance, which will be screened at the festival.
Miami Film Festival’s Art of Light Awards are presented to cinematic artists whose exemplary work shines new light on the continuing evolution of motion pictures. Cinematographer Ari Wegner will receive the Art of Light Award for her work on the films Zola and The Power of the Dog. Wegner has received several award nominations this season, including a nomination for Zola from the Film Independent Spirit Awards and for The Power of the Dog from the American Society of Cinematographers. Composer Cristobal Tapia de Veer will receive the Art of Light Award, presented by Alacran Group, for his work on The White Lotus.
The festival will open and close with two Oscar-shortlisted films: Fernando León de Aranoa’s Spanish comedy The Good Boss and Abner Benaim’s Panamanian drama Plaza Cathedral. This year’s closing night presentation will take place at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts. At the 2020 Miami Film Festival, the closing night party was intended to be a celebration of Walter Mercado with Kareem Tabsch and Cristina Costantini’s Mucho Mucho Amor, but was cancelled due to COVID; thus, the festival will dedicate its 2022 opening night party at The Historic Alfred I. Dupont Building to Walter Mercado, and finally have the party for the former legendary Miami resident.
The festival will include a special dedication to the memory of Sidney Poitier, the legendary Oscar-winning actor who passed away in January 2022. Poitier was born in Miami in 1927, grew up in the Bahamas and then emigrated back Miami at the age of 15, where he spent less than one year before moving to New York City. The festival will screen the 1961 film version of Lorraine Hansberry’s original Broadway production of A Raisin in the Sun, in which Poitier gives one of his most complex and searing performances.
The Festival is curated by programming co-directors Jaie Laplante and Lauren Cohen; senior programmers Thom Powers (documentary), Nicolas Calzada (short films) and Carl Spence (Oscar shortlist); and guest programmer Rachelle Salnave, specialty programmer Carlos Tejera, and YoungArts chair programmer Isabela dos Santos.