Despite Premature End of 37th Edition, Miami Film Festival Jurors and Sponsors Will Honor Filmmakers with Awards

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Miami, FL — The 37th edition of Miami Dade College’s acclaimed Miami Film Festival ended prematurely on March 12th after six days of operations, out of concern for the health and safety of artists, audiences and employees during the worldwide coronavirus pandemic outbreak. Working in collaboration with the Festival’s jurors and sponsors, organizers vowed to complete the Festival’s remaining competitions and announce Award winners in the upcoming days.

“We are grateful to have been able to premiere so many filmmaker’s works and bear witness to artist interaction with our community audiences during the Festival’s first six days,” said Festival director Jaie Laplante. “At the same time we are profoundly saddened that premieres and events scheduled for the Festival’s remaining four days could not occur. We vow to continue supporting our artists to the fullest extent possible during and after this current crisis.”

Before the Festival’s closure, 66 feature and 42 short films were screened, and four master classes took place, including the acclaimed Knight Heroes, supported by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, featuring filmmakers Stella MeghieJoe Talbot and Lulu Wang. Meanwhile, 21 features and six shorts did not receive the opportunity to screen for the public, including the intended World premieres of Reefa, They Call Me Dr. Miami and A Mother; North American premieres of Dolly Kitty and Those Twinkling Stars and Out in the Open; U.S. premieres of Window to the Sea and This is Cristina; and the Festival’s gala presentation of Mucho Mucho Amor: The Legend of Walter Mercado. Two planned master classes were also unable to take place.

The Festival’s juries will complete their adjudication process through virtual jury screenings, including for films that did not publicly screen, but have opted to remain in the Awards competition. The sole exception is the Documentary Achievement Award, which is voted on by the audience, and will not be awarded. Instead, the Festival’s TOYOTA Feature Film Audience Award, originally intended for narrative features only, will be altered to include the documentaries that were screened prior to the Festival’s closure; votes will be tallied from all 66 features that were publicly screened to determine the winner from this year’s truncated edition.

The Festival will announce its Award winners in the upcoming days.

Prior to closure, the Festival had already presented $42,500 in cash awards in the Lynn and Louis Wolfson II Family Foundation Cinemaslam Competition, a Florida film student program the focuses on utilizing archival material from the Wolfson Media Center. The over-all winner was “Celestial” by Bruklyn Miller from the New York Film Academy, Miami Beach, who received $7,500. Four runner-ups received $5,000 each: Sam Wilder’s “Caretaker” (University of Miami), Megan Tran’s “Dessert” (New World School of the Arts), Ashley De Grandy’s “Metanoia” (Miami Dade College), and Cathleen Deen’s “Wade in the Water: Drowning in Racism” (University of Miami). The jurors were veteran documentarian Adriana Bosch (whose Letters to Eloisa world premiered at the Festival), short filmmaker and National YoungArts Cinematic Arts awardee Carluccio, and time-based media artist Barron Sherer. “Metanoia” also won the $500 Film Florida Sara Fuller Scholarship Award, and the Cinemaslam Audience Award. Eight work-in-progress projects that plan to make use of archival material from the Wolfson Media Center to support their content were awarded grants of $1,875 each toward their completion.

Announced at the Festival’s opening night ceremonies were the Oolite Arts Miami Film Festival Poster Design Award and  Oolite Arts Miami Film Festival Trailer Award. Both awards went to Pablo Larrain’s Ema.

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About Miami Dade College’s Miami Film Festival                                                      
Miami Film Festival is the only major film festival event housed within a college or university. Celebrating cinema in two events, Miami GEMS Festival in October and its annual edition every March, Miami Dade College’s Miami Film Festival is considered the preeminent film festival for showcasing Ibero-American cinema in the U.S., and a major launch pad for all international and documentary cinema. The annual Festival attracts more than 45,000 audience members and more than 400 filmmakers, producers, talent and industry professionals. It is the only major festival housed within a college or university. In the last ten years, the Festival has screened films from more than 60 countries, including 550 World, International, North American, U.S. and East Coast Premieres. Miami Film Festival’s special focus on Ibero-American cinema has made the Festival a natural gateway for the discovery of new talent from this diverse territory. The Festival also offers unparalleled educational opportunities to film students and the community at large. Major sponsors of the 2019-20 Festival season include Knight Foundation, Miami Downtown Development Authority, Telemundo, American Airlines and Miami-Dade County. For more information, visit or call 305-237-FILM (3456).

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
Knight Foundation is a national foundation with strong local roots. We invest in journalism, in the arts, and in the success of cities where brothers John S. and James L. Knight once published newspapers. Our goal is to foster informed and engaged communities, which we believe are essential for a healthy democracy.

About Oolite Arts
Oolite Arts helps Miami-based artists advance their careers and inspires the cultural community to engage with their work.  Established in 1984, Oolite Arts is both a community and a resource, providing visual artists with the studio space, exhibition opportunities and financial support they need to experiment, grow and enrich the city. Through its educational programming, Oolite Arts helps Miamians learn about contemporary art and develop their own artistic skills.  For more, visit

MDC’s Miami Film Festival Media Relations Contacts:
Steven Wilson, Scenario PR | (310) 497-4951|
Emmanuel Genao, Miami Film Festival | (305) 237-3456 |

MDC Media-only contacts: Juan C. Mendieta, MDC director of communications, 305-237-7611,; Sue Arrowsmith, 305-237-3710,, or Allison Horton, 305-237-3359,

Miami Film Festival