Sometimes being from a city that constantly churns out magic can become so normal that we don’t spend enough time relishing in the fact that Miami is actually a cultural powerhouse, growing stronger year after year. To us, having things like Art Basel and Virginia Key GrassRoots Festival may seem like no big deal, but these are institutional happenings that take place in two other cities in the world, making their presence in Miami pretty remarkable.

One such celebration of creativity that deserves more fan-girling over in our opinion, is the Miami International Film Festival, back for its 33rd year. It’s hard to look at this year’s MIFF lineup and not feel a sense of FOMO, when they’re showing films in theaters across the city, from all over the world. Not often do we happen to get the inside scoop from the very organizers themselves. So, we asked three of Miami International Film Festivals in-the-know team members for their top picks, and added a few of ours in to round it out. We made sure there were no repeats so you can feel as prepared as possible:

Rachel Bleemer – Associate Director, Brand

TRAPPED – 2016, Directed by Dawn Porter, Category: Knight Competition, USA
“Trapped focuses on two Southern reproductive health clinics, following the doctors and administrators who conduct their business under threats to their safety.”
TALE OF TALES – 2015, Directed by Matteo Garrone, Category: Soiree Series, France/Italy/UK
“Tale of Tales is derived from a trio of legends collected by the seventeenth century Neapolitan poet and courtier Gianbattista Basile; three tales of three kingdoms ruled by three distressed monarchs.” Starring Salma Hayek, John C. Reilly, and Vincent Cassel.
I’VE NEVER NOT BEEN FROM MIAMI – 2015, Directed by Andrew Hevia, Joey Daoud, Jonathan David Kane, Monica Peña, Tabatha Mudra, Keisha Rae Witherspoon, Kenny Riches, Jacob Katel AKA Swampdog, Kareem Tabsch, Tina Francisco, 2015, Category: Soiree Series, USA
“An event unique to the Magic City, I’ve Never Not Been From Miami marks the first time all ten of WPBT2 South Florida PBS’s commissioned short films on Miami and South Florida artists—made by Miami and South Florida filmmakers, supported by the Knight Foundation—will screen together in a grand theatrical setting.”

file_606257_tale-of-tales-trailer

Lauren Cohen – Promotions Coordinator

WEINER – 2015, Directed by Josh Kriegman, Elyse Steinberg, Category: Knight Documentary Achievement Award, USA
“Congressman Anthony Weiner became far better known when he posted an explicit photo on his Twitter feed, forcing his resignation in 2011. When a fresh sex scandal breaks out, the cameras keep rolling and we get to witness a major operation of crisis management from the inside.”
PRESENTING PRINCESS SHAW – 2015, Directed by Ido Haar, Category: Reel Music, Israel
“Hailed at the Toronto International Film Festival as “astounding and thoroughly inspirational” (Variety) and “an old fashioned fairy tale come true” (The Hollywood Reporter), Presenting Princes Shaw follows the aspiring New Orleans singer Princess Shaw as she posts her songs on YouTube and waits to be discovered.”
VIAJE – 2015, Directed by Paz Fabrega, Category: Lexus Ibero American Feature Film Competition, Costa Rica
“The alternately sun-dappled and rain-soaked jaunt breezily chronicled in Costa Rican filmmaker Paz Fábrega’s Viaje will indulge your romantic yearnings to hit the road with a cute stranger and see just where things can go over the course of a single weekend.”

VIAJE_web_1

Eloisa Lopez-Gomez – Associate Director, Industry & Programs

MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING – 2016, Directed by Alejandro Fernandez-Almendras, Category: Knight Competition, Chile
“Based on a true story of legal malfeasance amongst Chile’s upper crust, this latest feature from Alejandro Fernández Alemendras chronicles a crime in which both the falsely accused and the guilty parties seem completely unfazed by the death of another human being.”
THE FORBIDDEN SHORE – World Premiere, Directed by Ron Chapman, Category: Reel Music, Canada
“The amazing diversity of contemporary Cuban music is gorgeously explored in Ron Chapman’s third documentary feature. With this ambitious new film, Chapman captures the full gamut of what’s happening now in Cuba, both the most exciting artists and the distinct musical scenes they move in.”
RESTLESS LOVE – World Premiere, Directed by Vera Egito, Category: Lexus Ibero American Feature Film Competition, Brazil
“São Paulo best friends Julia, Micaela and Diego enter their thirties entirely unprepared for the considerations of adult maturity. Writer-director Vera Egito masterfully creates vibrant, fully realized characters that speak to a world extending far beyond the limits of São Paulo, touching on anxieties and aspirations that are truly universal.”

much-ado-about-nothing-still-1

…and our Editor’s picks (’cause all her other ones were already taken):

THE LOBSTER – 2015, Directed by Yorgos Lanthimos, Category: Knight Competition, France/Greece/Ireland/Netherlands/UK
“Anyone who is found single in the near future is sent away to luxury prisons, which seem more like hotels with carefully planned daily social activities. The inmates have forty-five days to form a permanent bond with a mate, or else be permanently transformed into a member of the animal kingdom. Starring Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz, John C. Reilly, Ben Whiteshaw and Lea Seydoux. While ridiculing our social foibles, Lanthimos simultaneously delivers a delirious love letter to human nature.”
THE LITTLE PRINCE – 2015, Directed by Mark Osborne, Category: MIFFecito, Canada/France
“The Little Prince stays true to Saint-Exupery’s heralding of uncorrupted awe over grown-up disillusionment, using beautiful, painterly animation and delightful performances to let us look at the world through the hopeful eyes of a child.”
SUNSET SONG – 2015, Directed by Terence Davies, Category: Knight Competition, Luxembourg/UK
“Music of ethereal beauty, painterly images that evoke the ethos of a bygone era: there is no mistaking the look and feel of a Terence Davies film. Turning to Lewis Grassic Gibbon’s eponymous 1932 novel set in rural Scotland during the Great War, Davies has made what is perhaps his most epic and sublime film to date. Every frame of Sunset Song bears the fruits of this mastery, yet, just as importantly, the film also conveys the human heart in its eternal ricochet between resilience and fragility.”

IIr_Y

Want more? Check out the full MIFF movie program.