There’s just 2 months to go until the 35th MDC Miami Film Festival is fully underway, and the full slate of nominees for one of the Festival’s new categories has already been announced.
The universal distinction of the three features and four short films that make up this year’s Zeno Mountain Award candidates is that they are all illuminating, wonderful films. And all of them showcase unique characters who surprise and delight us with their zest for life.
The Zeno Mountain Award is a $5,000 cash prize established at Miami Film Festival’s 2017 edition and is funded by Miami-based Fringe Partners. The jury-selected award celebrates the diversity of abilities and disabilities, and seeks to reward a film of any length or genre in the Festival’s Official Selection which helps break down barriers to our understanding of people living with disabilities. The award is named after the non-profit Zeno Mountain Farm in Lincoln, Vermont and is inspired by the actors and filmmakers in the acclaimed 2016 documentary Becoming Bulletproof. The seven films competing for this year’s Zeno Mountain Award are:
- “Carry That Weight: A Rockumentary” (USA, directed by Brian J. Leitten). Documentary Short. Miami Beach Senior High professor Doug Burris lived with multiple sclerosis for 46 years and created the school’s renowned Rock Ensemble, which rocks on to this day.
- Coming to My Senses (USA, directed by Dominic Gill). Documentary Feature. In 1999, Aaron Baker broke his neck in a motocross accident that left him paralyzed from the neck down, but now fights against the odds for some mobility as he pursues a dream of returning to some of the athletic endeavors that he has loved all his life.
- High Expectations (Brazil, directed by Alvaro Campos and Pedro Antonio). Narrative Feature. Decio, a horse trainer at the Rio de Janeiro Jockey Club, falls in love with Lena, a café owner/artist. Decio’s dwarfism may work to his advantage as a jockey, but his no-limits romantic expectations create a more challenging situation. A hilarious romantic comedy, loosely based on the real life story of Brazilian stand-up comedian Gigante Leo, who plays Decio.
- September (Guatemala/Mexico, directed by Kenneth Müller). Narrative Feature. Josue’s family was ripped apart by Guatemala’s brutal civil war when a terrorist attack on September 5, 1980 left his wife dead and his 3-month-old daughter Theresa deaf for life. As Theresa grows up and faces the challenges of connecting with the world around her while dealing with her adolescent hormones, she finds strength in her father’s unwavering love.
- “Sexual Being” (Canada, directed by Paul Stavropoulos). Documentary Short. Two young adults with cerebral palsy reject societal notions of sexual desirability that exclude them. Toronto college business student Chandler stars in adult movies, and Los Angeles empath Meaghan makes experimental art films.
- “Share The Same Madness” (USA, directed by Tim Richardson). Documentary Short. Dennis Hudson, an autistic Detroit teenager home-schooled in an orthodox Catholic household, discovers electronic dance music. EDM provides Dennis with a means to transcend isolation and find the community he needs to survive.
- “Spoon Fed” (UK, directed by Nick Hatton Jones). Narrative Short. Restaurant critic Ellie (played by Lesley Sharp) joins a support group after she’s diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. As her condition worsens, hope arrives from an unexpected place.
The Zeno Mountain Award presentation will be made at the Festival’s Awards Night Gala on March 17, at the Olympia Theater and The Historic Alfred I. Dupont Building in downtown Miami, as part of the Festival’s CINEDWNTWN GALA series sponsored by Miami Downtown Development Authority (DDA).
The complete line-up for the 35th annual Festival will be unveiled in early February, with individual tickets going on sale to the general public beginning Feb. 16.