Our programmers dedicate countless hours for the annual enhancement of Miami Film Festival. Meet those who bring incredible films from around the globe to Miami.
JAIE LAPLANTE, DIRECTOR OF PROGRAMMING
In 2010, Jaie Laplante joined Miami Dade College’s Miami Film Festival as Executive Director & Director of Programming, leading the Festival’s growth and influence from its 28th annual edition onwards into its fourth decade. Additionally, he directs and oversees MDC’s Tower Theater Miami, one of the USA’s oldest and most celebrated year-round art cinemas.
Mr. Laplante has served on numerous international juries and film panels, as well as lectured at events including festivals and markets in Santiago de Chile; San Jose, Costa Rica; Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic; and Cleveland, OH. Most recently, he has additionally programmed cinema cycles for Faena Arts in Miami Beach, and served as mayor Carlos Gimenez’ appointee to the Miami-Dade County Film & Entertainment Advisory Board from 2013-17.
In 2017, he was named one of 25 Knight Champions, honoring passionate individuals in Miami who love the arts, on the occasion of The John S. & James L. Knight Foundation’s tenth anniversary of the Knight Arts Challenge. In 2018, Mr. Laplante received the decoration Knight’s Cross of the Order of Isabel la Católica from Felipe VI, King of Spain, for his career work in the exploration of contemporary Spanish and Spanish-language cinema in the state of Florida.
Previously, Mr. Laplante served as Director of Programming (2008-2009) for Miami Short Film Festival and as Co-Director of Miami Gay & Lesbian Film Festival (2003-2006). In the preceding decades, he published more than 400 pieces on contemporary commercial and international art cinema for a variety of publications as a critic and journalist.
In Toronto and Los Angeles in the 1990s, he worked on numerous independent productions and developed screenplays, and received an Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay for the made-in-Toronto film Sugar, directed by John Palmer. Mr. Laplante graduated from York University, Toronto, with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Film/Video Production.
THOM POWERS, SENIOR PROGRAMMER, DOCUMENTARY CINEMA
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. In his seven years at Miami Dade College’s Miami Film Festival, he’s been an early advocate of documentaries such as 20 Feet From Stardom, Blackfish 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 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.
Twitter handle: @thompowers
CARL SPENCE, SENIOR PROGRAMMER, GALAS & MARQUEE
Carl Spence began curating films and concerts during the grunge era at the University of Washington. He began his festival career at the Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF) in 1994, helping grow the Festival to become one of the largest film events in North America over the past two decades. He also spearheaded SIFF’s expansion into year-round exhibition, making SIFF the leading independent exhibitor in Seattle by saving two historic cinemas along with the creation of a flagship Film Center. He most recently held the position of Festival Director and Chief Curator at SIFF prior to starting his own consulting film, CCS Arts in late 2016. He also held Director of Programming positions with the Palm Springs International Film Festival and with the San Francisco International Film Festival. In 2014, he helped create the Orcas Island Film Festival as a Festival co-director and the chief curator. He spends most of his free time cooking, reading, and watching films with his husband and two boys.
KIVA REARDON, PROGRAMMER
Kiva Reardon is a programmer for the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), the founding editor of cléo journal and a writer. Her writing has been published in Filmmaker Magazine, Cineaste, Cinema Scope, The Globe and Mail, and others. She has previously worked at the Doha Film Institute in Qatar and the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Film Festival.
NICOLAS CALZADA, PROGRAMMER
Nicolas Calzada comes to MFF as a writer/director of feature films and commercials, as well as a writer for American television, with 32 episodes to his name. He wrote two complete seasons of the hit docu-series DRUG WARS, the highest rated show on the Fusion Network, and was a contributing writer during its premiere season. He has written several feature film screenplays, including SUNSET BAKERY, which was a winner of the Columbus-Vague Production Grant, an award hand-picked by legendary filmmaker Chris Columbus. Nicolas received his MFA from NYU’s graduate film program and a BA in History from Yale. His short films have won multiple awards and screened at prestigious festivals on four continents. Besides directing several commercials, he has also worked extensively as a producer, editor, and on the camera department of over 40 short films (including numerous Sundance Award Winners) and 250 commercials. He met his wife at the 27th Miami Film Festival and together they’re thrilled to be taking their two-year old daughter to her second MFF at the 36th iteration of the festival.
DIANA CADAVID, PROGRAMMER
Diana Cadavid is Associate Director, Program & Industry for the Miami Film Festival. She’s the former Director of Programming for the International Film Festival of Panama (IFF Panamá), and Programmer for the Regent Park Film Festival and aluCine Film + Media Arts Festival in Toronto. As a Programming Associate for eight editions of the Toronto International Film Festival she provided effective support for the Ibero-American programmer, Diana Sanchez.
Diana has also produced and edited the short films Bleiben (2006), Still Life with Echo (2008) and Define Solidarity (2013), directed by Álvaro Girón. She was the Production Manager for the feature film Mañana a esta hora (2016) by Lina Rodriguez.
LAUREN COHEN, PROGRAMMER
A lifelong film lover and Miami Beach native, Lauren Cohen graduated from the University of Miami with a bachelor’s degree in Motion Pictures and Theatre. She has been writing about film since 2009, with her movie reviews and features appearing regularly in SocialMiami.com, with work also published in Miami Beach News, Examiner.com and The Miami Hurricane. Over the years she’s interviewed some of the most recognizable faces in the film industry, including Salma Hayek, Daniel Craig, Emma Stone, and Javier Bardem. Lauren has spent the past three years working at Miami Film Festival to promote the best of world cinema to the Miami community, as well as running the Festival’s membership level for young professionals, CineClub.
PROGRAM COMMITTEE 2018-19
Man Kit Lam