The Festivals

Miami Film Festival

Miami Film Festival is a world-class platform for International and Ibero-American films. Presenting its 39th edition from March 4-13, 2022, the Festival showcases the work of the world’s best emerging and established filmmakers to the diverse cosmopolitan community of Miami. Cash awards totaling more than $100,000 are given in competition categories.

Olympia Theater in Downtown Miami

Sieze the opportunity to have your work considered for one of the most exciting and prestigious film festivals in the United States. Presenting its 39th edition from March 4 -13, 2022, the Festival showcases the work of the world’s best emerging and established filmmakers to the diverse cosmopolitan community of Miami; and is renowned for vibrant filmmaker-audience interactions, world-class parties and screening venues, and cash awards totaling more than $100,000 in competition categories.

Highlights of the 2021 Festival included award presentations and exclusive in-depth conversations with film legends Pedro Almodovar, Rita Moreno, Riz Ahmed, Aldis Hodge, Javier Camara, Andra Day, and Nomadland cinematographer Joshua James Richards; a fascinating Knight Heroes conversation with Radha Blank, Gina Prince-Bythewood, Adele Romanski, and Amy Seimetz; and numerous World and International Premieres. The 2021 Festival’s top prize, the Knight MARIMBAS Award, went to Jasmila Žbanić’s Quo Vadis, Aida?

The Festival also hosts dozens of world-class events every year, including the Mercado de Cine Frances y Europeo, which brings together over 40 buyers and sellers from Europe and Latin America; annual events in partnership with VARIETY, including the Oscars International Film Roundtable; as well as numerous workshops, masterclasses, and industry happy hours.

Hailed by Moviemaker Magazine as “One of the 50 Film Festivals Worth The Entry Fee,” Miami Film Festival would love to consider your film for its 2022 Edition.

Gems Film Festival

Formerly known as MIFFecito, the Miami Film Festival debuted Gems, a fall presentation that served as a mid-season “Film Festival Fix” at MDC’s Tower Theater Miami in October 2014. The 7-day event showcased world cinema in a concentrated week of 10 red-carpet premieres, parties and in-person appearances with filmmakers. The following year, the festival rebranded it to Gems Film Festival, a four-day event held in October to present “the jewels of the fall season.”

Gems distills the annual Festival experience of showcasing the best of world cinema, into a concentrated weekend of premieres accompanied by in-person appearances by visiting filmmakers, as well as seminars, parties and additional events. GEMS Film Festival 2021 will take place November 4-10.

Gems 2019 Opening Night at Tower Theater

Meet the Programmers

Our programmers dedicate countless hours for the annual enhancement of the Miami Film Festival. Meet those who bring incredible films from around the globe to Miami.

In 2010 Jaie Laplante joined Miami Dade College’s Miami Film Festival as Executive Director & Director of Programming, leading the Festival’s growth and influence from its 28th annual edition onwards into its fourth decade. Additionally, he directs and oversees MDC’s Tower Theater Miami, one of the oldest and most celebrated year-round art cinemas in the U.S.

Mr. Laplante has served on numerous international juries and film panels, as well as lectured at events including festivals and markets in Santiago de Chile; San Jose, Costa Rica; Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic; and Cleveland, OH. Most recently, he has additionally programmed cinema cycles for Faena Arts in Miami Beach, and served as mayor Carlos Gimenez’ appointee to the Miami-Dade County Film & Entertainment Advisory Board from 2013-17.

In 2017 he was named one of 25 Knight Champions, honoring passionate individuals in Miami who love the arts, on the occasion of The John S. & James L. Knight Foundation’s tenth anniversary of the Knight Arts Challenge. In 2018, Mr. Laplante received the decoration Knight’s Cross of the Order of Isabel la Católica from Felipe VI, King of Spain, for his career work in the exploration of contemporary Spanish and Spanish-language cinema in the state of Florida.

Previously, Mr. Laplante served as Director of Programming (2008-2009) for Miami Short Film Festival and as Co-Director of Miami Gay & Lesbian Film Festival (2003-2006). In the preceding decades, he published more than 400 pieces on contemporary commercial and international art cinema for a variety of publications as a critic and journalist.

In Toronto and Los Angeles in the 1990s, he 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. Mr. Laplante graduated from York University, Toronto, with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Film/Video Production.

A lifelong film lover and Miami Beach native, Lauren Cohen holds a bachelor’s degree in Motion Pictures and Theatre from the University of Miami. She has been writing about film since 2009, with her reviews and features (including interviews with stars such as Salma Hayek, Daniel Craig, Emma Stone, and Javier Bardem) appearing in, Miami Beach News, and The Miami Hurricane.

Cohen began working at Miami Film Festival in 2014 to promote the best of world cinema to the Miami community and was responsible for creating and running the Festival’s ongoing membership group for young professionals, CineClub. She was named to the programming team in 2017 and promoted to Associate Director of Programming in 2019. Cohen also regularly contributes essays to the Festival’s blog channel, The Latest.

Thom Powers divides his time between New York, Miami and Toronto with roles in several festivals. He is also the host of the podcast Pure Nonfiction interviewing documentary filmmakers. He has served as Senior Programmer, Documentary Cinema Miami Film Festival since 2011, where he’s been an early advocate of documentaries such as 20 Feet From StardomBlackfish, RBG 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 Pure Nonfiction (formerly known as 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 for Sundance Now, 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.

Follow Thom on Twitter: @thompowers

Carl Spence began curating films and concerts during the grunge era at the University of Washington. He began his festival career at the Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF) in 1994, helping grow the Festival to become one of the largest film events in North America over the past two decades. He also spearheaded SIFF’s expansion into year-round exhibition, making SIFF the leading independent exhibitor in Seattle by saving two historic cinemas along with the creation of a flagship Film Center.

He most recently held the position of Festival Director and Chief Curator at SIFF prior to starting his own consulting film, CCS Arts in late 2016.  He also held Director of Programming positions with the Palm Springs International Film Festival and with the San Francisco International Film Festival. In 2014, he helped create the Orcas Island Film Festival as a Festival co-director and the chief curator, and joined Miami Film Festival’s programming team in 2018.

He spends most of his free time cooking, reading, and watching films with his husband and two boys.

Nicolas Calzada is Director, Events Programming & Senior Programmer, Short Films for Miami Film Festival. He is also a writer and director of feature films and commercials, as well as a writer for American television, with 32 episodes to his name. He wrote two complete seasons of the hit docu-series Drug Wars, the highest-rated show on the Fusion Network, and was a contributing writer during its premiere season. He has written several feature film screenplays, including Sunset Bakery, which was a winner of the Columbus-Vague Production Grant, an award hand-picked by legendary filmmaker Chris Columbus. Nicolas received his MFA from NYU’s graduate film program and a BA in History from Yale. His short films have won multiple awards and screened at prestigious festivals on four continents.

Besides directing several commercials, he has also worked extensively as a producer, editor, and on the camera department of over 40 short films (including numerous Sundance Award Winners) and 250 commercials. He met his wife at the 27th Miami Film Festival and they’re both thrilled to be taking their young daughter on frequent trips to Tower Theater Miami and to her every edition of the Festival since her birth.

Carlos Tejera “Carluccio” is a narrative and commercial filmmaker, photographer, and painter from Venezuela, based in New York City. He founded SFUMATO, a production company. In 2019, he directed music videos for the songs “Así” by Obregon for RED Music of Sony Music Entertainment & “Me Arrepiento” by GioBulla for YahYah Music. In addition, he also directed a digital promo for Customer Marketing Group, & edited Warner Media’s (HBO, Warner Bros., Turner) reel for the 2019 Sundance Film Festival.

His short films “Nostalgia” and “Klein Blue” are now streaming on Amazon Prime.
He has been published twice on REKT Magazine.
He is a member of the Writer’s Guild of America.

Carluccio was trained in cinematic arts in some of the top filmmaking institutions: University of Southern California, New York Film Academy, and New York University, where he received his B.F.A. from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts with a minor in The Business of Entertainment, Media, and Technology. In 2014, Carluccio became a National YoungArts Foundation Cinematic Arts winner. The following year, he received a National Silver Portfolio Medal from The Scholastics Art and Writing Awards at Carnegie Hall for his work as a painter.

Rachelle Salnave is a filmmaker and cultural leader. With over 20 years of experience, she has focused her lens on Black Global stories. The first of a handful of filmmakers to document the gentrification of Harlem, Rachelle’s works include capturing stories about the Haitian Guantanamo Bay experience, Macadamia Nut planting experiments in Guatemala and spotlighting Haitian identity and its society. Rachelle was part of the first class of Sundance Institute Screenwriters Intensive Fellows in Miami in 2015. In that year, the General Consulate of the Republic of Haiti nominated her with the “Beacon of Hope and Achievement” award. Her second feature documentary, La Belle Vie: The Good Life landed her an Emmy nomination in 2016. In 2017, Knight Foundation honored Rachelle as a “Knight Arts Champion” for her cinematic programming, Ayiti Images and Black Lounge Films. As of 2021, her current documentary film, Madame Pipi is currently touring film festivals and she is in production for her 3rd feature documentary entitled Dual Citizen.

Isabela Dos Santos is an artist who describes herself most easily as an animator but also works with writing, illustration, miniatures and other handicrafts. She’s also just a human (unless she’s not)—one who likes baking, watching films and doing puzzles.

Isabela is an alumna of National YoungArts Foundation and a U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts, and her work has been recognized by the Student Academy Awards (for her short film “i”) and Vimeo Staff Pick (for the existential, hand-drawn animated short “I met a robot at a ballet once.”) as well as shown in museums and film festivals internationally.

Born in Brazil and raised in South Florida, Isabela earned a BFA in Experimental Animation from CalArts in 2014 and, beyond art and animation, has worked in video production and digital communications for arts organizations.

Program Committee

  • Myriam Grad
  • Ileana Oraza
  • Sammy Albis
  • Donald Papy
  • Brian Blum
  • Lisa Sloat
  • Kevin Sharpley
  • Carolina Pina
  • Luis Hernandez
  • Jose Antonia Valencia\
  • Isaac Mead Long
  • Sebastian Barriuso
  • Ivonne Cotorruelo
  • Cami Pelaez
  • Frantzy Moreau
  • Ana Sofia Pelaez
  • Betsey Greene-Freeman
  • Alberto Sigarroa
  • Maria Melendez
  • Michelle Contreras
  • Kali Kahn
  • Dudley Alexis
  • Miles Dixon


Cash awards totaling more than $100,000 are given in competition categories.

Knight Made in MIA Feature Film Award
$45,000 Knight Made in MIA Feature Film Award is a cash competition for the jury-selected feature film of any genre that features a qualitatively and quantitatively substantial portion of its content (story, setting and actual filming location) in South Florida (Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach and/or Monroe counties) and that best utilizes its story and theme for universal resonance. The jury will have the option to award $22,500 each to two films that represent different genres (narrative, documentary, hybrid), or may elect to award the entire prize to one film.

Knight Marimbas Award
$25,000 Knight MARIMBAS Award is a cash competition for the jury-selected U.S. or international narrative feature film (60 min or longer) that best exemplifies richness and resonance for cinema’s future.

Knight Made in MIA Short Film Award
$10,000 Knight Made in MIA Short Film Award is a cash competition for the jury-selected short film under 30 minutes of any genre that features a qualitatively and quantitatively substantial portion of its content (story, setting and actual filming location) in South Florida (Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach and/or Monroe counties) and that best utilizes its story and theme for universal resonance.

Jordan Ressler First Feature Award
$10,000 cash to the filmmaker (director, or writer/director) of the jury-selected best film made by a filmmaker making his or her feature narrative (60 min or longer) film debut. The Award is courtesy of the South Florida family of the late Jordan Ressler, an aspiring screenwriter whose life was tragically cut short before he could realize his dream.

$10,000 HBO Ibero-American Feature Film Award
Prize given to a jury-selected best U.S. Hispanic or Ibero-American narrative feature film (60 min or longer) in the Official Selection, awarded to the lead producer (production company).

$10,000 Warner-Media OneFifty Latino Short Film Award
For short films 30 minutes or less with Spanish dialogue and featuring primarily Hispanic, Latino or Ibero-American stories. Open to any genre – narrative, documentary, hybrid, animation, experimental

Alacran Music in Film Award
Highlights the power of music in film and celebrates the role of the film composer. This award celebrates the artists behind the music composition, which often stay in the shadows, for their contribution to the film industry. Award includes complimentary studio time at Alacran Group’s state-of-the-art recording studio. For Best Original Score of all opt-in feature films in the Festival.

Documentary Achievement Award
Prize given to one documentary film as voted upon by the Festival audience, awarded to the film’s lead producer (production company). All feature-length documentary (50 min or longer) playing in the Festival’s Official Selection are eligible for this Award.

Miami International Short Film Award
$5K Miami International Short Film Award is given to a jury-selected short film (30 min or less) of any genre from anywhere in the world.

Narrative Feature Film Audience Award
Presented to the filmmaker of the Festival audience’s choice of best non-documentary feature (60 min or more) of the entire Official Selection.

Short Film Audience Award
Presented to the filmmaker(s) of the Festival audience’s choice of best eligible short of any genre (30 min or less) of the entire Official Selection.

Rene Rodriguez Critics Award
Presented to the filmmaker of one feature film of any genre voted on by a select group of accredited film critics covering the annual Festival, for the film they consider the best of that year’s selection.

Miami Film Festival’s annual Florida film school competition. The purpose of CinemaSlam is to foster excellence in student filmmaking and expose students to the value of film festivals in connecting their work with public audiences and industry professionals. One $1,000 grand prize, along with other honors and recognitions, will be awarded to select CinemaSlam finalists.

Special Presentation
This out-of-competition category highlights significant Narratives (60 min or more) from both masters and up-and-coming filmmakers from all around the world, including an international selection of dramas, comedies, suspense thrillers, and innovative docudramas.