The Miami film scene received another tremendous boost this past Monday. As part of a new $37 million investment in the arts, the Knight Foundation dedicated at least $4 million of that toward “making film general in Miami”, to paraphrase the Foundation’s mission to make art general in Miami, a project begun in 2007 that continues to display spectacular results.

Included is a five-year renewal of a commitment to sponsor two of Miami Film Festival’s signature awards. The biggest news is the announcement of major changes to the Knight Made in MIA Award. This Award, inaugurated at the 35th edition of Miami Film Festival earlier this year, will now offer the same amount as the Knight MARIMBAS Award – $40,000 – to two jury-selected films of any genre that tell South Florida stories (from West Palm to the Keys) shot on location in South Florida. The surge of cinematic Miami storytelling excitement rocketed in 2016 with the release (and Oscar win) of Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight and has continued with great new programs encouraging the production of Miami stories, including Art Center South Florida’s Cinematic Arts Residency program (also awarded a Knight grant on Monday).

Knight Foundation Awards Ceremony held at Pérez Art Museum Miami

With Knight Foundation’s new support, Miami Film Festival dramatically raises the stakes for the best of our new South Florida movies to collectively appear together on an international competition stage, alongside acclaimed contemporary works such as Pawel Pawlikowski’s Cold War, Lee Chang-dong’s Burning and Ali Abbasi’s Border, for our filmmakers to be seen and noticed by their fellow artists, industry personnel and press from all over America and the world. Miami Film Festival wants to make South Florida film general – all over the world!

The new $40,000 Made in MIA Award will award $30,000 to the jury-selected best feature film (narrative, experimental or documentary) and $10,000 to the best short film of 30 minutes or less (any genre).


KNIGHT MADE IN MIA AWARD 2018: Cassandra Keith, lead cinematographer of Gladesmen, accepts the award for Best Film on behalf of producers David Abel and Andy Laub

Just as exciting is Knight Foundation’s renewal of the Festival’s top competition category, newly rechristened the Knight MARIMBAS Award. This Award will annually give $40,000 cash to the jury-selected feature film that best exemplifies richness and resonance for cinema’s future. Named after the visionary 2011 film that won this award, Julio Hernandez Cordon’s Marimbas from Hell, the award is a beacon to forward-thinking international filmmakers making the– emphasizing Miami as an important destination for the appreciation of the year’s most important new cinema.

Films nominated for the Knight MARIMBAS Award in 2019 include the aforementioned Cold War, Burning and Border. The complete list of nominees will be announced when the Festival unveils its full program in late January.