The Festivals

Miami Film Festival

Miami Film Festival is a world-class platform for International, American, and Ibero-American films. The special 41st edition of the Miami Film Festival will take place from April 5-14, 2024. 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.

John S. and James L. Knight Concert Hall at the Adrienne Arsht Center

In recent years, the Miami Film Festival has attracted approximately 45,000 people a year, as well as 300 filmmakers, producers, talent and industry professionals from around the world as it showcases more than 100 feature narratives, documentaries and short films of all genres, from 40 different countries. Highlights of recent festivals have included award presentations and exclusive in-depth conversations with film legends Pedro Almodovar, Penelope Cruz, Rita Moreno, Riz Ahmed, Ramin Bahrani, Ryusuke Hamaguchi, Aldis Hodge, Javier Camara, Andra Day, Ari Wegner, Diego Luna, and Nicolas Cage; and numerous World and International Premieres.

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 International Feature Film Award Roundtable; as well as numerous workshops, masterclasses, legendary parties, and industry happy hours.

Historically, the Festival has had the privilege of hosting a noted group of filmmakers and talent, including Barry Jenkins, Isabelle Huppert, Carlos Saura, Richard Gere, Rashida Jones, Sarah Jessica Parker, Lena Olin, Pablo Larrain, Edward James Olmos, Monica Bellucci, Rossy de Palma, Gloria and Emilio Estefan, Spike Lee, Andy Garcia, Patricia Clarkson, Stella Meghie, Joe Talbot, Jason Reitman, Lulu Wang and countless more. Simultaneously, it strives to be a beacon of support to local filmmaking talent and has elevated the work of numerous local filmmakers via exciting marquee screenings and generous cash awards like the Knight Made in MIA prize for locally-produced features and shorts.

Major trade publications such as Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Screen and Indiewire attend for coverage and reviews of the films. Miami Film Festival has also made the prestigious “One of the 50 Film Festivals Worth The Entry Fee” list by Moviemaker Magazine in recent years.

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 November 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 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.

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

Rachel Bleemer is a Los Angeles-based multidisciplinary producer and programmer, currently serving as director of programming and events at Film Independent. At FI, Rachel oversees the organization’s year-round programming, including the renowned screening series Film Independent Presents. She has expanded Film Independent’s commitment to promoting diversity in the film industry and has amplified Film Independent’s year-round programming with exclusive screenings of films and TV, in-depth conversations with filmmakers, and the legendary Live Read series. A Miami Beach-native, Bleemer previously held leadership positions at both the LA Film Festival and over the course of a decade, the Miami Film Festival. Rachel’s first love is film, followed by Italian cuisine and Snoopy.


IG: @rachel_lauren

Photo by Lee Jameson

Ivonne Cotorruelo is a Cuban Film Curator and former producer based in New York, who has been empowering storytellers for over a decade. She is a Features Programmer at Cleveland International Film Festival CIFF, Miami International Film Festival MIFF, Outfest LA, Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival TTFF and a Shorts Programmer for Aspen ShortFest. She has served as Juror for Film Festivals around the globe, and as reviewer for The Chicken and Egg Fund, Warner Media New Voices Initiatives, Black and Latino Inclusion Fellowship in LA, and Disney. A Berlinale Talent Campus alumnus, she is always seeking out stories for underrepresented voices. Working on a plan of strategic diversity, equity and inclusion.

Alejandro Ríos is an expert film and art critic, the founder, and curator of Miami Dade College’s Cuban Cinema Series, a distinguished educational initiative launched in 1993 that explores and discusses Cuban cinema. In 2003, he orchestrated the inaugural Festival of Alternative Cuban Cinema at the Tower Theater in Little Havana. With a global presence, he has served as a journalist, juror, and lecturer at numerous international film festivals in Havana, Miami, Brazil, Canada, Seattle, and Kolkata, contributing to various specialized publications and books. His involvement extends to the Havana Film Festival’s FIPRESCI Jury. Notably, he co-curated the program “Forbidden Fruit, Cuban Independent Film in the 21st Century” at Coral Gables Art Cinema in 2018 and has served on the juries of the Miami Short Film Festival and the René Rodríguez Critics Award. He also hosted and produced the long-running television show “La Mirada Indiscreta” on AmericaTeVe for a decade and currently holds the position of cinema critic at AmericaTeVe, with regular segments on “América Noticias” and “La Mesa Nostra.” Furthermore, he anchored and produced TV Marti’s programs on Cuban cinema, including “Pantalla de Azogue,” “Pantalla TVM,” “Mirada a Cuba,” and “Pantalla Indiscreta.” He is a prolific writer with weekly columns published in El Nuevo Herald and Cubanet, primarily focusing on cultural topics, especially cinema. His book “La Mirada Indiscreta” (Ed. Hypermedia) was featured at the 2017 Miami Book Fair, showcasing a collection of his columns and personal essays. For 26 years, he served as the Hispanic media specialist at Miami Dade College’s Office of Media Relations, where he handled press relations for the Miami International Film Festival and contributed to the Hispanic Authors Committee of the Miami Book Fair.

Chris Molina is a programmer who has worked in Miami’s film community for over 5 years. His experience spans from being on set for local productions to working at some of the biggest Film Festivals in town. He began at MFF as a volunteer, later became a theater manager, and is now the interim shorts programmer. He is also the festival director for the Sun Pass Film Festival, a festival meant for fostering Miami filmmaking talent, and promoting a grassroots film movement. Molina is also an award-winning filmmaker in his own right, having made multiple short films that often focus on his own experiences as a queer man.

Screening Committee

Alberto Sigarroa

Amanda Linares Velazco

Ameek Chadha

Ana Garro

Angelo Catanese

Betsey Greene-Freeman

Carlos Andujar-Burgos

Diane Kaplan

Donald Papy

Ethan Teng

Felipe Medero

Francess Dunbar

Garrett Colon

Gia Adams

Giovanny Marin

Jasmine Naylor

Kevin Sharpley

Luis Hernandez

Maria Melendez

Michelle Contreras

Michelle Garcia

Myriam Grad

Phil Dickey

Pola Bunster


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

Made in MIA Feature Film Award
Made in MIA Feature Film Award is a 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.

Marimbas Award
MARIMBAS Award is a 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.

Made in MIA Short Film Award
Made in MIA Short Film Award is a 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
Awarded 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.

Documentary Achievement Award
Prize given to the director of the jury-selected best feature-length (60 min or longer) documentary film.

Documentary Audience 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
$4,000 Miami International Short Film Award is a cash competition, with the prize given to a jury-selected narrative short film (30 min or less) of any genre from anywhere in the world.

Documentary Short Film Award
Documentary Short Film Award is a cash competition, with the award given to a jury-selected documentary short film (30 min or less) 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.

CinemaSlam (For Florida Film Students Only)
CinemaSlam is 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 with public audiences and industry professionals. One $1,000 grand prize, along with other recognitions, will be awarded to select Cinemaslam finalists during the 2024 season.

• Film must have been completed no earlier than January 1, 2023
• Filmmaker must have been enrolled as an undergraduate or graduate student at an accredited Florida college/university at the time of project completion.
• Film must have been completed as part of an accredited Florida college/university’s coursework.

In the submission cover letter, please include:
1. College/university
2. The course for which the film was made
3. Name & email address of the course professor Submissions without this information risk disqualification.
• Film must have a runtime of 20 minutes or less. No exceptions.

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.