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2007 Miami International Film Festival Winners

Award Winners At Miami International Film FestivalAward Winners At Miami International Film Festival

Sunday, March 11----- One of Miami’s most glamorous cultural events of the year, the Miami International Film Festival (MIFF) reached its zenith with its Gala Awards Night, presenting awards to films in three competition categories: Documentary Features, Ibero-American Dramatic Features, and World Dramatic Features. Jurors in the three categories, along with the International Federation of Film Critics (FIPRESCI), awarded prizes to films in competition during the 2007 Festival.

The ceremonies were held at the historic Gusman Center for the Performing Arts, and were hosted by Mexican actress Gabriela Ribero and Issaka Sawadogo from Burkina Faso, the star of the film SOUNDS OF SAND by Marion Hänsel, which was screened earlier in the week as a Gusman Premiere.

Festival Director Nicole Guillemet, who is leaving the Festival after five years at the helm, addressed the capacity crowd of filmmakers, film buffs, sponsors and supporters.
“Throughout the ten days of the Festival the audience connection to the films and the filmmakers has been astounding,” Guillemet commented. “The generous Knight Foundation prizes enable these talented and aspiring filmmakers to continue to create and inspire us with their art.”
In 2006, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation contributed $250,000 to create the Knight Grand Jury Prizes. This year, three Knight Grand Jury Prizes in the amount of $25,000 were awarded to films in three competition categories: Dramatic Features - World Cinema Competition, Dramatic Features - Ibero-American Cinema Competition, and Documentary Features - World & Ibero-American Cinema Competition.

The first award of the evening was given by the International Federation of Film Critics (FIPRESCI) to a film in Dramatic Features - World Cinema Competition. Jury President Sheila Johnston announced that the FIPRESCI prize was awarded to RED ROAD  (Scotland) by Andrea Arnold, which was in competition in the World Dramatic Features category. The film’s actor, Anthony Curran, came to the stage and thanked the audience and the Festival for the honor. The FIPRESCI jurors were Sheila Johnston (UK), Peter Keough (USA) and Josefina Sartora (Argentina).

Next up were the award recipients in the Dramatic Features - World Cinema Competition category. For what Jury President Raoul Peck described as “its original and precise rendition of individual characters imprisoned and isolated in a world that watch but do not see,” the Knight Grand Jury Prize of $25,000 went to to RED ROAD (Scotland) by Andrea Arnold. A visually stunned James Curran again accepted the honors, thanking the Festival for acknowledging the film.

The Jury also awarded a number of special prizes in this category. A Special Grand Jury Mention was awarded for “the original and impeccable performance of actress Bar Belfer” in the Israeli film SOMEONE TO RUN WITH (Mishehu larutz ito) by Oded Davidoff. A Special Grand Jury Mention was awarded for “its sensitive and sensible rendering of an improbable love story” for the German film SONJA by Kirsi Marie Liimatainen. The Jury members included filmmaker Raoul Peck (South Africa), producer Christine Vachon (USA) and distributor Bernardo Zupnik (Argentina).

The next set of prizes was awarded in the Documentary Features - World & Ibero-American Cinema Competition. Cited by Jury President Mike Maggiore for “its penetrating examination of the issues surrounding a little-known, ignominious chapter in American history and for the filmmaker's skill in dealing with an incendiary subject in a compassionate and intelligent way,” the Knight Grand Jury Prize of $25,000 in the Documentary Cinema Competition was awarded to BANISHED (USA) by Marco Williams.

Williams came to the stage and thanked the Festival for allowing him to bring his film about the expulsion of African-American communities from their lands in the early part of the 20th century to great public recognition.

The Documentary Jury also awarded a number of special prizes. For “its sensitive, moving series of love stories set in and out of prisons in Spain, Lithuania, Mexico, Argentina, and Bolivia, as prisoners struggle to sort out their romantic and familial lives, all the while preparing to compete in a singing contest that feels alternately melancholy and life-affirming,” the Jury awarded a Special Jury Prize to SEPTEMBERS (Septiembres) by Spanish director by Carles Bosch. The Jurors in the Documentary Features Competition included programmer Mike Maggiore (USA), distributor Rob Williams (USA) and producer Cynthia López (USA).

For being a “perfect film, perfectly realized” the Dramatic Features - Ibero-American Cinema Competition Jury awarded the Knight Grand Jury Prize of $25,000 to the Mexican film, THE VIOLIN (El Violín) (Mexico) by Francisco Vargas Quevedo. The director bounded up to the stage, with his young baby in his arms. He thanked the Festival for the honor, saying that in the last few months his greatest joy has been the completion of this film and the birth of his son. It was a touching moment that moved the audience to rapturous applause.

The Ibero-American Dramatic Features Jury also awarded a number of special prizes.
A Special Grand Jury Mention was awarded for “an exceptionally dramatic musical soundtrack” to film composer Vasco Pedroso in THE NIGHT OF THE SUNFLOWERS (La noche de los girasoles) by Spanish director Jorge Sánchez-Cabezudo.

A Special Grand Jury Mention was awarded for “her realistic portrait of a strong woman in difficult circumstances” to Brazilian actress Carla Ribas of ALICE’S HOUSE (A casa de Alice) from Brazilian director Chico Teixeira. Ribas was brought to tears thanking the Festival and saying “you have no idea what this honor means to me.”

A Special Grand Jury Mention was also awarded for ”her brave choice to honestly reflect how another culture tells stories” to Paraguayan director Paz Encina for the film PARAGUAYAN HAMMOCK. This is the first feature film to come out of Paraguay in more than twenty five years. The Ibero-American Dramatic Features Jury included arts consultant Tania Blanich (USA), producer Bertha Navarro (Mexico) and writer/producer Jim Stark (USA).

Two new awards were introduced this year. The Latin America Caribbean FedEx Audience Award of $10,000 was presented to a film from a Latin American or Caribbean filmmaker or originating from the same area. The selection was for films not in competition. The winner was BLUFF by Colombian director Felipe Martínez, which had its World Premiere at the Festival as one of three films from Colombia in “MIFF Abroad: Inside Colombia” country showcase.

Another new prize is the Heineken Red Star Award, presented to a film from the Ibero-American Dramatic Features competition for originality, innovation and vision in film.
Cited for “its poetic naturalism,” the Heineken Red Star Award was awarded to FISH DREAMS (Sonhos de Peixe) Kirill Mikhanovsky. The director thanked the Festival and also the non-professional actors in his film who gave the story about a small Brazilian fishing village its authenticity.

The final set of prizes of the evening were the Audience Awards, sponsored by American Airlines, presented to filmmakers in each of the three competition categories. Winning filmmakers each received a cash prize of $2,500 and a Movado watch.

Audience Awards were given to the following:

  • World Dramatic Feature Competition: SWEET MUD (Adama Meshuga’at, (Israel) by Dror Shaul.
  • Ibero-American Dramatic Feature Competition: THE NIGHT OF THE SUNFLOWERS (La noche del los girasols, Spain) by Jorge Sánchez-Cabezudo.
  • World & Ibero-American Documentary Feature Competition: TO PLAY AND TO FIGHT (Tocar y luchar, Venezuela) by Alberto Arvelo.

The Awards Ceremony ended on an emotional note with the remarks by Dr. Eduardo Padrón, president of Miami Dade College, honoring Nicole Guillemet for her five years of leadership of the Festival. Guillemet was visibly moved but thanked the audiences and the filmmakers as being the real key to the success that the Festival has become. Dr. Padrón then introduced Guillemet’s successor, Patrick de Bokay, giving the new Festival Director his first opportunity to address the Miami public and assembled guests. De Bokay praised Guillemet for bringing the Festival to such a high standard and promised to not only continue but to expand on the Festival’s successes in future years.

Sandy Mandelberger
Miami Online Dailies Editor


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Mandelberger Sandy

March 6-15, 2009

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