QUO VADIS, AIDA? and CUBAN DANCER Win Top Jury Awards At 38th Miami Film Festival; Other Feature Awards Given to LORELEI and THE CITY OF WILD BEASTS
Stories that span two hemispheres – from the culture shock of a Cuban ballet dancer who relocates to Florida, to the wartime plight of a UN translator in Bosnia and Herzegovina – have earned top prizes at the 38th edition of Miami Dade College’s (MDC) acclaimed Miami Film Festival. Presented in a hybrid format this year, with both in-theater and virtual presentations, the 2021 Festival ran from March 5-14.
Making its U.S. Premiere at this year’s Festival was the Balkan war drama Quo Vadis, Aida?, directed by Jasmila Žbanić, representing Bosnia and Herzegovina’s official submission shortlisted for this year’s Academy Awards. This hard-hitting feature earned the Festival’s top prize, the $25,000 Knight MARIMBAS Award, supported by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, an international competition for new narrative feature films that best exemplify richness and resonance for cinema’s future. The winning film was selected by jury members Mollye Asher, Claire Breukel, and Samuel Kishi Leopo, winner of last year’s $10,000 Ibero-American Feature Film Award. Quo Vadis, Aida? was also selected by film critics as winner of this year’s Rene Rodriguez Critics Award.
Another first outing, making its North American premiere at the Festival, Cuban Dancer, a poignant documentary directed by Roberto Salinas, won the $45,000 Knight Made in MIA Feature Film Award, supported by Knight Foundation. The award goes to a feature film that has a substantial portion of its content in South Florida and that best utilizes its story and theme for universal resonance. This year’s winning film, a co-production of Italy, Canada and Chile, was selected by jury members Dudley Alexis, Aeden O’Connor Agurcia and Carmen Pelaez.
Lorelei, a U.S.-made working-class fable directed by Sabrina Doyle, garnered the $10,000 Jordan Ressler First Feature Award. This honor, sponsored by the South Florida family of the late Jordan Ressler, is presented to the best film made by a filmmaker making a feature narrative film debut. The winning film was selected by jury members Kira Davis, Karen Foster, and Gonzalo Maza, who won last year’s $10,000 Jordan Ressler First Feature Award for This is Cristina.
The Henry Rincón-directed film from Colombia, The City of Wild Beasts (La Ciudad de las Fieras), was a World Premiere at this year’s Festival and walked away with the $10,000 WarnerMedia Ibero-American Feature Film Award. The winning film was selected by jury members Leslie Cohen, Miguel Ángel Jiménez, and Ingride Santos, who won last year’s $5,000 Ibero-American Short Film Award. This was the second Miami Film Festival award for The City of Wild Beasts, with editor Raphael Lubzanksi earlier winning the 2021 Miami Film Festival Best Trailer Award presented by Oolite Arts, as selected by juror Benjamin Courtines.
Shortlisted for this year’s Academy Awards Live-Action Short category, “The Present,” directed by Farah Nabulsi, took the Miami International Short Film Award, as judged by select members of the Miami Film Festival’s Program Committee.
In the other short film categories, “Caro Comes Out,” directed by Brit Fryer and Caro Hernandez, took the $10,000 Knight Made in MIA Short Film Award, supported by Knight Foundation. The award honors a film under 30 minutes of any genre that features a qualitatively and quantitatively substantial portion of its content in South Florida and that best utilizes its story and theme for universal resonance. The winner was selected by jury members Dudley Alexis, Alicia K. Harris and Aaron Stewart-Ahn.
For his work in Riz Ahmed’s British drama Mogul Mowgli, composer Paul Corley earned the $5,000 Alacran Music In Film Award, sponsored by Alacran Group, which highlights the power of music in film and celebrates the role of the film composer. The winner was selected by judges Julio Bagué, Federico Durán and André Lopes.
As previously announced, “Asi en la Tierra” by Joel Vázquez Cárdenas won the $5,000 WarnerMedia Ibero-American Short Film Award. Internationally acclaimed Spanish visual artist Raul Monage earned this year’s Miami Film Festival Best Poster Award, presented by Oolite Arts, for his work on Christos Nikou’s Apples, as judged by Xavier Ruffin and Sev DeMy.
The winner of the Documentary Achievement Award is A New Dawn, directed by Manny Soto.
This year’s Narrative Feature Film Audience Award is Plantados, directed by Lilo Vilaplana.
Our Short Film Audience Award winner is Petra, directed by Randy Valdes.
In some categories, jury members noted honorable mentions or runners-up. The Knight Made in MIA Award jury cited Edson Jean’s Ludi for a special mention, for “beautiful filmmaking that captures the truisms and mores of the Haitian community in Miami, succinctly and tenderly, that moved all of us.“ The WarnerMedia Ibero-American Short Film Award jury named four runners-up, including “Calladita”, “For Rosa”, “The Insomnia Plague” and “The Name of the Son”. The Best Trailer Award runner-up was The Saint of the Impossible; and the Best Poster Award runner-up was 1991.