Miami International Film Festival unveils two more Competition sections for 2012, including Inaugural “Lexus Ibero-American Opera Prima Award

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Festival Contact:
Danny Diaz
Phone: +1 305-389-8986

MDC Contact:
Juan Mendieta
Phone: +1 305-237-7611

MDC’s Miami International Film Festival unveils two more Competition sections for 2012, including Inaugural 

“Lexus Ibero-American Opera Prima Award”


1 International Premiere & 2 U.S. Premieres headline

 Opera Prima line-up


Popular “University of Miami Best Short Film Competition” Returns


For Immediate Release:
December 20, 2011


MIAMI, FL— With an established track record among international film festivals of introducing the best Ibero-American films to the world, Miami International Film Festival (MIFF), produced and presented by Miami Dade College, announced today a new category for its upcoming 29th edition, March 2 -11, 2012 –  the  Lexus Ibero-American Opera Prima Competition.


In this newly created category, six films from first-time feature filmmakers from Spain, Portugal and/or Latin America will compete for a $5,000 USD cash prize sponsored by Lexus. Official automotive sponsor of MIFF, the luxury automaker is dedicated to ensuring that future generations understand the importance of their own cultural legacy and the impact it has in their communities.


“Ibero-American filmmakers are some of the most exciting visionaries in the industry today,” said MIFF’s executive director Jaie Laplante, “As the competition for our flagship Knight Ibero-American Grand Jury Prize becomes increasingly intense, working with Lexus to create a special award for emerging filmmakers making their ‘opera primas’ gives us an opportunity to especially highlight the new generation of filmmakers.”


The finalists for the competition were selected by MIFF programmers from films already submitted to the 2012 Festival.


“The competition serves as a valuable extension to the Festival’s commitment of developing and nurturing films from Latin America, Portugal and Spain,” said MIFF’s Senior Ibero-American Program Consultant Diana Sanchez. ”Given that it’s difficult for many first time filmmakers to gain momentum and attention for their projects,  the competition serves as a great vehicle to expose their works to global audiences and the most astute professionals in the industry.”


Additionally, the Festival announced that three Miami-based filmmakers, each of whom had recently completed his or her own opera prima, would serve as the jurors for the prize.  The jurors are: director Ali Codina, a former MIFF staff member whose opera prima documentary Monica & David won Best International Feature Documentary at the 2010 Tribeca Film Festival; director Aaron Salgado, whose opera prima feature Magic City Memoirs world premiered at MIFF 2011; and producer Diego Ojeda, whose opera prima feature Máncorapremiered at MIFF 2009 after debuting at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival.


2012 MIFF Lexus Ibero-American Opera Prima Competition films:


Las Acacias (Argentina/Spain, directed by Pablo Giorgelli): Already a winner of major prizes at this year’s Cannes Film Festival (Camera d’Or for Best First Film) and the Latin Horizons prize at the San Sebastian Film Festival, Giorgelli’s road movie unfolds along the highway linking Asunción to Buenos Aires, which trucker Rubén is accustomed to traveling solo. This time, however, he’s got a passenger, Jacinta, and a road full of revelations on the horizon.  East Coast Premiere


Expiration Date (Fecha de caducidad) (Mexico, directed by Kenya Márquez): After the tragic loss of her son, Ramona (Ana Ofelia Murguía) becomes convinced local handyman Genaro (Damián Alcázar) is responsible for the death. Becoming increasingly obsessed and paranoid, she enlists the help of neighbor to avenge his death. East Coast Premiere


Vaquero (Argentina, directed by Juan Minujín): Actor-turned-filmmaker Minujín’s profoundly revealing film follows mid-level Buenos Aires actor Julian Lamaz on a darkly comic quest for a leading role in a Hollywood movie. Through an amusing voice-over, the actor endures endless patronizing advice from fellow actors, casting agents and even his family. Minujín’s experience in the Buenos Aires film and theatre community gives the narrative multiple layers of self-referential resonance. U.S. Premiere


The Student (El estudiante) (Argentina, directed by Santiago Mitre): College student Roque (Esteban Lamothe) navigates the murky world of university politics, while seducing assistant professor and activist (Romina Paula), in Santiago Mitre’s briskly paced debut. A microcosm for the world at large, the film brilliantly exposes the backroom dealings and negotiations of student politics. Florida Premiere


Speechless (Sin palabras) (Colombia, directed by Ana Sofía Osorio Ruiz and Diego Bustamante): After helping a disoriented Chinese immigrant find her way, Raul (Javier Ortíz) can’t help but fall slowly in love with the exotic beauty. Osorio Ruiz and Bustamante prove the language of the heart is the most universal of all in this touching romance.  International Premiere


Distancia (Guatemala, directed by Sergio Ramírez): Tomás Choc travels 150 kilometers to be reunited with his only daughter, kidnapped 20 years ago during the Guatemalan civil war. In order to keep his memories of her alive, Tomas has kept a journal of his daily struggles, which he plans to give her when they meet in Ramirez’s heart wrenching drama. U.S. Premiere


High-profile Ibero-American filmmakers whose ‘opera primas’ were introduced in previous editions of the Miami International Film Festival include:


·       Javier Fuentes-León (Undertow): Winner of MIFF’s 2010 “Audience Award” and winner of the 2010

Sundance Film Festival “Audience Award.”

·       Sebastián Silva (The Maid): Featured at MIFF 2009, winner of the 2009 Sundance Film Festival “Grand

Jury Prize”, and nominee at the 2010 Golden Globes for “Best Foreign Film.”

·       Carlos Moreno (Dog Eat Dog): Featured at MIFF 2008 and 2008 Sundance Film Festival

“Grand Jury Prize” Nominee.

·       Federico Veiroj (Acné):  Featured at MIFF 2009 and winner of the 2008 AFI “Grand Jury Prize”

·       Rodrigo Plá  (La zona): Winner of the 2008 MIFF “Audience Award.”

·       Julio Hernández Cordon (Gasoline): Featured at MIFF 2009 and winner of the 2008 San

Sebastián International Film Festival “Latin Horizons Award.”

·       Andrés Baiz (Satanas): In MIFF’s 2007 program and winner of the 2007 Bogota Film Festival

”Golden Precolumbian Circle” Award for “Best Colombian Film.”


Additionally, the Festival confirms the return of the University of Miami Grand Jury Award for Best Short Film. The established category showcases short films from developing international directors competing for a $2,500 cash prize. The 2011 winner in this category was Chilean short film Blokes (Blockes) by Marialy Rivas.


Some of the short films already confirmed to compete in MIFF 2012 include:


The Beach Chronicles (USA, directed by Kevin Sharpley) – World premiere


Catharis (France, directed by Cédric Prévost) – US premiere


Cell Phone Zombies (Cel Zombies) (Ecuador, directed by Jorge Luis Miranda) – World premiere


The Dancer (USA, directed by Seth Stark) – Florida premiere


Grandmothers (Abuelas) (United Kingdom, directed by Afarin Eghbal) – Florida premiere


Immune (USA, directed by Andrew Lathorp) – Florida premiere


Shift (USA, directed by Juan Carlos Zaldívar) – World premiere


The Trip (A Viagem) (Portugal/USA, directed by Simao Cayatte) – Florida premiere


The above titles are in addition to the 10 film titles previously announced by MIFF last week for the Knight Ibero-American Competition.   Approximately 100 films from 40 countries are anticipated for the annual 10-day event.  A complete schedule of press conferences, red carpets, and celebrity guests will be announced in the coming weeks. Visit for more information.


Miami International Film Festival (MIFF), celebrating its 29th edition on March 2-11, 2012, is considered the preeminent Ibero-American film festival in the U.S. The annual Festival, produced and presented by Miami Dade College, attracts more than 70,000 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. MIFF’s special focus on Ibero-American cinema have made the Miami International Film Festival a natural gateway for the discovery of Ibero-American talent. Additionally, the Festival offers unparalleled educational opportunities to filmmakers and the community at large. For more, visit or call 305-237-MIFF (3456).   Major sponsors of the 2012 Miami International Film Festival include: Lexus, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Miami Beach Visitors & Convention Authority, FPL, EGEDA, Downtown Development Authority of the City of Miami, Comcast, Miami New Times, The Historic Alfred I. Dupont Building, ABC Management Services, Screen International.  The official headquarter hotel of MIFF 2012 is The Standard Spa, Miami; and the Festival is produced with the support of the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs and the Cultural Affairs Council, the Miami-Dade County Mayor and Board of County Commissioners.


Miami Dade College has a long and rich history of involvement in the cultural arts, providing South Florida with a vast array of artistic and literary offerings including The Miami Book Fair International, the Florida Center for the Literary Arts, the MDC Live! Performing Arts Series, The MDC Tower Theater Cinema Series, nine visual arts galleries including The Freedom Tower at Miami Dade College and the School of Entertainment and Design Technology, in addition to the renowned Miami International Film Festival. MDC is the largest institution of higher education in the country and is nationally recognized for many of its academic and cultural programs. With an enrollment of more than 174,000 students, MDC is the nation’s top producer of degrees. The college’s eight campuses and outreach centers offer nearly 300 distinct degree programs including several baccalaureate degrees. It has admitted nearly 2 million students since it opened its doors in 1960. More at


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