Miami Film Festival Announces Call for Entries for 34th Season

Posted by
For Immediate Release
Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Miami Dade College’s Miami Film Festival Announces Call for Entries for 34th Season

Revamped Jordan Ressler Award category now features $10,000 cash for a first-produced screenwriter

Miami, Florida – Organizers of the internationally-celebrated Miami Dade College’s Miami Film Festival today opened submissions for Official Selection to its 34th  annual season, to include both its fall showcase GEMS, scheduled October 13 – 16, 2016, and the 34th  edition of the Festival to be held March 3 – 12, 2017. Considered the top venue in the U.S. for emerging Ibero-American cinema, the Festival seeks the latest works in any genre by debut, emerging and veteran filmmakers for various competition and non-competition categories, including features, documentaries, shorts, experimental cinema and Florida-centric stories.

New for 2017, Festival Director Jaie Laplante unveiled a  revamped Jordan Ressler Awardcategory would now feature a $10,000 cash prize for screenwriters who have a first-produced feature screenplay credit in an eligible feature film. Laplante called on producers and rights holders of new films that would fit the Jordan Ressler Award category to especially consider submitting their films to Miami Film Festival this year.

“Any director will tell you the vital need for a well-written screenplay to provide the blueprint for any work of cinema,” said Laplante. “The Jordan Ressler Award aims to recognize the valuable contributions of writers who are making a new mark in this vital role, and to encourage their continued work in the field.” Recent winners of the Jordan Ressler Award include Venezuelan Lorenzo Vigas in 2016, for his script for the Venice Golden Lion winning film From Afar (Desde Allá), and Jordanians Naji Abu Nowar and Bassel Ghandour in 2015 for their Oscar-nominated Theeb. The award is sponsored by the family of the late Jordan Alexander Ressler, an aspiring screenwriter who passed away in a tragic accident at the age of 23.

Headlining the 34th Miami Film Festival will be its signature Knight Competition, which presents Achievement Awards totaling $40,000 in cash courtesy of the Festival’s long-time, esteemed partner, The John S. & James L. Knight Foundation. Open to all new feature films of any genre directed by filmmakers who have directed at least one Official Selection (feature) at a previous edition of Miami Film Festival, the category’s top prize is to be split equally between the film’s lead production company and the US distributor (if none, a 30-day window opens for a sales agent to complete any US theatrical sale).

Knight Foundation will continue to sponsor an additional category, the Knight Documentary Achievement Award, which is voted on by the Festival audience, and awards $10,000 to the most popular film. The Miami-based film Queen of Thursdays, about Cuban ballerina Rosario “Charin” Suárez, won the award in 2016, underscoring the Miami audience’s enthusiasm for international-quality local production.

“Miami Film Festival nurtures our homegrown artists and productions,” said Laplante. “The work continues to mature and the development of a distinctive Miami voice resonates as the films travel through film circles the globe, often after launching at Miami Film Festival.” The Festival especially encourages Florida-based productions to submit their new works, as the Festival’s affinity for this work will garner special programming consideration.

Also returning is the Lexus Competition for new U.S. Hispanic and Ibero-American feature films of any genre for both veteran and debuting filmmakers. Eligible for a $10,000 cash Achievement Award courtesy of the Festival’s Official and Exclusive Automobile Sponsor, Lexus. The 2016 Lexus winner was Argentina’s Paulina (La patota) by Santiago Mitre.

Lexus will continue to sponsor the ever-popular Lexus Feature Film Audience Award and the Lexus Short Film Audience Award, voted on by Festival ticket buyers. A final juried category is the Grand Jury Short Film Achievement Award, which gives $2,500 cash to the best short eligible for the official competition.

A variety of non-competitive categories, including Cinema 360, a sampling of the finest of international cinema; Florida Focus for non-competing local productions;  MIFFecito, the Festival’s family-friendly section; and Reel Music, for music-based features and documentaries, are also now open for submissions.

Leading up to the 34th annual Festival will be the organization’s annual fall showcase festival, GEMS 2016, highlighting award winners from top international film festivals such as Sundance, Berlin and Cannes; Oscar-contenders; and international box office sensations. GEMS 2016 will present its annual Gigi Guermont Audience Award to the most popular film of the 4-day festival, as voted on by GEMS ticket buyers. Celebrities and filmmakers who attended previous editions of GEMS include actors and personalities Don Francisco, Kate del Castillo, Guillermo Francella, Rodrigo Santoro, Juan Pablo Raba, Antonia Zegers, and filmmakers Pablo Trapero, Trey Edward Shults, Patricia Riggen, Maria Ripoll, Mariana Chenilloand Ernesto Daranas.

To qualify for the 2017 Festival, all films must have realized their world premiere after March 2016 and may not be scheduled for theatrical release or commercial broadcast in the U.S. before March 15, 2017, except for non-competition short films and titles submitted to the CinemaSlam student film competition category.

The Festival’s programming team is headed by executive director Jaie Laplante, and currently includes Miami-based, Ecuadorian-American curator Andres Castillo; veteran Toronto International Film Festival and DOC NYC curator Thom Powers, described by The New York Times as a “kingmaker of documentaries”; Miami-based Cuban filmmaker and MDC’s Tower Theater programmer Orlando Rojas; and MIFFecito program specialist Eloisa Lopez-Gomez.

The Festival only accepts submissions via IMDB’s Withoutabox’s Secure Online Screener (SOS) system, no submissions on DVDs will be accepted.

For a complete set of official rules and regulations and/or to submit a film, visit For additional information:  or

+1 305-237-FILM (3456).


# # #


About Miami Dade College’s Miami Film Festival

Celebrating cinema in two annual events, the 2016 GEMS Festival October 13-16, 2016 and its 34th annual edition March 3 – 12, 2017, 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 more than 60,000 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 five years, the Festival has screened films from more than 60 countries, including 300 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 2016-17 Festival season include Knight Foundation, Lexus, American Airlines and Miami-Dade County. For more information, visit or call 305-237-FILM (3456).

About Culture at Miami Dade College
The Cultural Affairs Department of Miami Dade College (MDC) is composed of the Miami Book Fair, Miami Film Festival, Tower Theater Miami, Koubek Center, Freedom Tower, MDC Live Arts and MDC Galleries and Museum of Art + Design. MDC is committed to providing its community with the opportunity to come in contact with innovative thinkers, creators and tradition bearers from around the world. With each presentation, MDC offers a bridge between cultures and ideas, creating new opportunities for the increasingly diverse population of Miami to come together through shared live arts experiences. For more information, visit

About John S. & James L. Knight Foundation

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. The foundation believes that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit

About Lexus
Lexus launched in 1989 with two luxury sedans and a commitment to pursue perfection. Since that time, Lexus has expanded its line-up to meet the needs of global luxury customers. Lexus is now going beyond its reputation for high quality vehicles with the integration of innovative technology, emotional exterior and interior designs, and engaging driving dynamics and performance. With six models incorporating Lexus Hybrid Drive, Lexus is the luxury hybrid leader. Lexus also offers seven F SPORT models and two F performance models. In the United States, Lexus vehicles are sold through 236 dealers who are committed to exemplary customer service.

Miami Dade College’s Miami Film Festival Contacts:

Juan C. Mendieta, MDC Communications Director, 305-237-7611,
Hessy Fernandez, Director, Media Relations, 305-237-3949,
Sue Arrowsmith,  Information Specialist, 305-237-3710,
Allison Horton, Information Specialist, 305-237-3359,