Our programmers dedicate countless hours for the annual enhancement of Miami Film Festival. Meet those who bring incredible films from around the globe to Miami.
JAIE LAPLANTE, DIRECTOR OF PROGRAMMING
Jaie Laplante is an internationally recognized leader and influencer in film culture. As a critic and journalist in Canada in the late 1980s, he published more than 400 pieces on contemporary commercial and international art cinema for a variety of publications, and first championed his career-long efforts to organically connect regional audiences with homegrown artists, recognizing it as an essential component of maintaining and building the medium’s power. During this time, he became one of the western Canadian region’s most vocal advocates, urging audiences to support nascent successes, such as the 1980s oeuvre of Albertan Anne Wheeler (Loyalties, Bye Bye Blues), the first filmmaker from the province to be selected by Film Society of the Lincoln Center and Museum of Modern Art’s New Directors/New Films. In Toronto and Los Angeles in the 1990s, Laplante worked on numerous independent productions and developed screenplays, and received an Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay for the made-in-Toronto film Sugar, directed by John Palmer.
With the dawn of the new century, Laplante arrived in Miami and emerged as a new curatorial voice for a complex and dynamic metropolis on the verge of a rapid cultural expansion. Laplante produced early award showcases for François Ozon and Gregg Araki and brought ahead-of-the-curve attention to numerous unheralded filmmakers who are today major talents, including Matteo Garrone in 2003 and Naji Abu Nowar in 2008. Since the fall of 2010, Laplante has directed Miami International Film Festival and significantly reshaped the personality of the Festival’s program, deepening the Festival’s commitment to being a primary portal into the United States for established and emerging Iberoamerican filmmakers and providing catalyst on US distribution sales and renewed industry interest in the event. He has successfully strengthened the Festival’s commitment as a strong platform for Miami and Florida filmmakers creating work of international caliber, produced tributes to Oscar-winners Susanne Bier and Fernando Trueba, and premiered more than 500 films to Miami audiences, including the award-winning hits Wild Tales, Conducta, Theeb, Deep City: Birth of the Miami Sound, Metegol, Brazilian Western, Reality, Juan of the Dead, Porfirio, Madrid 1987, Un cuento chino, Chico & Rita, Cafe de Flore, and Incendies. Laplante has juried at film festivals and on film panels in Santiago de Chile; San Jose, Costa Rica; Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic; and at Cleveland International Film Festival. He was appointed by mayor Carlos Gimenez to the Miami-Dade County Film & Entertainment Advisory Board in 2013.
Twitter handle: @jaieinmiami
Andres Castillo was born in Guayaquil, Ecuador and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology and Anthropology from Florida International University. In 2001, he created Tiwintza Media Producciones in Guayaquil to help launch electronic music and mixed visual media. He released a trip-hop album under the moniker Viejo Sordo in 2009, which jump-started the creation of his own record label, Sordera Records. The label released a new EP called El disco sin fin by his new rock group, La banda de los dulces sueños, in 2014.Castillo has worked at Miami Dade College’s Miami Film Festival since 2007 where he is currently a Senior Programmer. He has represented the Festival at Toronto International Film Festival, Ventana
Sur, San Sebastian Film Festival, BAFICI, among numerous others. Other activities have included consulting for MUVICA, an annual arts, design and music film festival in Guayaquil and Quito, Ecuador; writing for EL
TELEGRAFO newspaper in Guayaquil on film, music and other topics; and directing the music video “LO INEXPLICABLE” for Miami indie rock band La Gente Naranja. In 2013 he served on the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Panel for Media Arts Grants.
Thom Powers divides his time between New York, Miami and Toronto with roles in several festivals. In his five years at Miami Dade College’s Miami Film Festival, he’s been an early advocate of documentaries such as 20 Feet From Stardom, Blackfish and Finding Vivian Maier, that went on to acclaim (and sometimes Academy Awards). The New York Times described him as a “kingmaker for documentaries” for his programming at the Toronto International Film Festival, where he launched titles such as Undefeated and Inside Job, which later won Oscars.
In Manhattan, he created the weekly screening series Stranger than Fiction at IFC Center, cited by Time Out magazine as the city’s “Best Documentary Programming.” He and his wife Raphaela Neihausen are the directors of America’s largest documentary festival DOC NYC. Powers also curates Doc Club at SundanceNOW.com, and has taught at the School of Visual Arts and New York University. He previously spent several years as a filmmaker directing documentaries for HBO and PBS; and worked in publishing.
Twitter handle: @thompowers
Orlando Rojas is a recognized Cuban filmmaker best known for the artistically bold feature films Supporting Roles and Sometimes I Look at My Life, a film about Harry Belafonte, described by L.A. Times, as “an exuberant Cuban documentary.” Also a renowned screenwriter, he won the coveted Coral Prize for Best Un-filmed Screenplay in the 1994 Havana Film Festival with the script Closed for Renovation. Its production was halted after only one week into shooting. In reference to this incident, Peter Katel wrote in Newsweek that “the government told one of the country’s best directors to abandon his latest project.”
Rojas became a film director under the guidance of Tomás G. Alea and Humberto Solás, and studied screenwriting under Jean Claude Carrière and Gabriel García Márquez. He has been part of the jury at film festivals in Bilbao, Moscow, Leipzig, Havana, Huelva, Chicago, and Miami. In 2003, Rojas came to U.S. with a Guggenheim Fellowship to develop a film about the exile Cuban ballerina Rosario Suárez. After several years in the making, the documentary feature The Queen of Thursdays debuted at the 2016 Miami Film Festival were it won the Knight Documentary Achievement Award. Since 2008, Rojas has served as the film programmer for MDC´s Tower Theater