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MIFF Gala Screenings At The Gusman

There is nothing quite so glamorous as the Red Carpet at a film festival. Popping flash bulbs, the crush of the paparazzi, the push of the crowd, the rare opportunity of seeing world-class filmmakers and celebrities, the sheer excitement in the air. Glamour is definitely on tap on Flagler Street in downtown Miami as the 25th Miami International Film Festival presents the Gusman Galas in all their glory in the beautiful and historic Gusman Center for the Performing Arts each evening.

The Hollywood glamour quotient at this year’s Festival is very high. This evening, Hollywood heartthrob Pierce Brosnan is joined by Oscar winner Chris Cooper (ADAPTATION), Golden Globe nominee Patricia Clarkson (FAR FROM HEAVEN) and rising star Rachel McAdams (THE NOTEBOOK) in writer/director Ira Sachs’ dark satire MARRIED LIFE. On Saturday evening, romantic comedy is on the bill, when Oscar winner Helen Hunt (AS GOOD AS IT GETS) teams up with English leading man Colin Firth (BRIDGET JONES’ DIARY) in the East Coast Premiere of THEN SHE FOUND ME, Ms. Hunt’s directorial debut that wowed critics and audiences at its world premiere at the Toronto Film Festival.

The Hollywood parade continues on Sunday with double Oscar winner Michael Caine (THE CIDERHOUSE RULES) and superstar Demi Moore (INDECENT PROPOSAL), who team up for a sensation jewel robbery in the US Premiere of the heist film FLAWLESS by UK director Michael Radford (winner of the British Academy Award for directing the well-loved IL POSTINO). Later in the week, the Festival welcomes the latest directorial effort from David Schwimmer (FRIENDS). RUN FAT BOY RUN, a winning relationship comedy, stars Hank Azaria (THE BIRDCAGE), Thandie Newton (a British Academy Award winner for CRASH) and celebrated English writer/actor Simon Pegg (SHAUN OF THE DEAD). Old Hollywood is also highlighted with Sunday’s 40th anniversary screening of the classic “spaghetti Western” ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST, by cult director Sergio Leone and featuring a stellar cast including Henry Fonda, Jason Robards, Claudia Cardinale and Charles Bronson.

Two Academy Award nominees in the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar race have their US Premieres at the Festival. KATYN, a powerful historical drama about one of the most horrendous atrocities of World War II, is the latest cinematic masterpiece of acclaimed Polish director Andrzej Wajda. The 81-year-old director received a special Lifetime Achievement Oscar in 2000 for his 50 plus year career as one of Europe’s leading cinematic lights. Another Oscar nominee also comes from a distinguished European film talent. Director Sergei Bodrov’s sweeping historical epic MONGOL is the story of Genghis Khan, one of history’s most legendary warriors.

The performing arts are the common theme of several films receiving their premieres as Gusman Galas. Spanish auteur Carlos Saura continues his exploration of the worlds of music and dance with his visually arresting film FADOS, a portrait of the music known as the “Portuguese blues”. Chinese director Wang Honghai presents a similarly eye-popping spectacle in MY DREAM, a documentary film about a unique performing arts company. In his directorial debut, Miami’s own Emilio Estefan, the award-winning music producer and husband of music diva Gloria Estefan, presents a lively and poignant tribute to the musical sounds of his native Cuba, including performances by such legendary musicians as Arturo Sandoval, Chocolate Armenteros and Gloria Estefan herself. In Stephanie Black’s AFRICA UNITE, a bevy of international recording artists are captured in all their exuberance, in a celebration of legendary reggae superstar Bob Marley’s 60th birthday celebration in Ethiopia. The film features outstanding musical performances from the Marley Family, Angelique Kidjo and Teddy Afro, among others.

Rounding out the program are three outstanding films that exemplify the renaissance of Spanish language cinema from both Spain and Latin America. In THE POPE’S TOILET, Uruguyan directors Enrique Fernandez and Cesar Charlone tell the sometimes funny, sometimes desperate story of a small time smuggler hoping to strike it rich. Iciar Bollain, the acclaimed director of the festival hit TAKE MY EYES, returns to Miami with the feminist detective drama MATAHARIS, which features some of Spain’s most exciting acting talents. Argentine director Lucia Puenzo makes a strong impression with her directorial debut XXY, the poignant story of a teenage hermaphrodite who struggles to decide whether to be a boy or a girl. From Hollywood stars to cinema auteurs to blazing new talents, this year’s Gusman Galas are the most exciting, and glamorous, ever.

Sandy Mandelberger, Miami Film Festival Dailies Editor on fest21.com

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