What to Watch at the Miami Film Festival 2020

The 37th annual Miami Film Festival starts this weekend, and runs from March 6 to March 15. More than 125 short films, documentaries and features from over 30 different countries will be showcased as part of the festival program. Screenings will be held at the Coral Gables Art Cinema, Olympia Theater, Tower Theater, and Silverspot Cinema, along with a host of other participating venues located in the Miami area.

With opening night fast approaching, the Film Studies Crew offers its must-watch picks from the festival program.

Mathew: Los Ultimos Frikis stood out to me, because I always love a good music documentary, and also love the idea of this niche band attempting to survive in a culture that is so heavily influenced by music that sounds nothing like theirs. N.P. Novak’s The Dawn drew my attention thanks to Iggy Pop’s haggard face on the short film’s cover picture. The trailer looks like absolute insanity and it’s always interesting to see what both filmmakers and actors conjure up when they are tasked with portraying painters or artists.

Julia: I’m really excited to watch the festival’s Opening Night Film, The Burnt Orange Heresy. After checking out the trailer, I saw everything I’m looking for: stunning visuals, ironic humor and low-key thrill. On a different note, maybe it’s because I love going to Coral Gables and I’m curious about retirement, Golden Age is one I’m not going to miss. I hope that after watching this documentary, my new goal will be to retire in style.

Emily: Though I’m not the biggest fan of documentaries, I am really looking forward to seeing Us Kids, a documentary following the survivors of the Parkland shooting during their March For Our Lives campaign tour. I think it’s an important project especially for the local community, and I am glad the Miami Film Festival is showing it in a prime spot on Friday, March 13th. And if you’re like me and are interested in some cool-looking female led films I’d recommend Amy Ryan’s latest drama Lost Girls, and these two feel-good comedies: Military Wives and I Am Not Your Mommy.

Diana: Out of all the great films featured this year at MFF I’m really looking forward to watching Tunisian comedy Arab Blues. It stars the enchanting Golshifteh Farahani (Paterson) as a psychoanalyst returning to her hometown of Tunis to open her own practice. I’m really curious to see what Tunisian humor will look like and to witness the filmmaking from that region post-Arab Spring. Another film on my must watch list is While At War, which was nominated for 17 Goyas this year and directed by Oscar winner, Alejandro Amenabar. The film centers on accomplished Spanish writer Miguel de Unamuno’s life during the Spanish Civil War.

Dr. Strycharski: There are a bunch of South American Films I’m excited to see–but if I have to narrow it down . . . I’ve been a fan of Pablo Larraín’s uncomfortable cinema since Tony Manero (2008), and from what I’ve heard this year’s Ema has found a compelling balance between his disturbing early work and his more mainstream biopics. It’s great to see the Chilean film industry that Larraín has done so much to foster represented by several films in the festival this year. I’m also giddy that Argentinian heavyweight Juan José Campanella will bring The Weasels Tale with him. There’s a wit and charm even in his serious work that I find enchanting, and I’m willing to let this ensemble piece cast that Campanella spell over me. Also I’m a Ricardo Darín fanboy so of course I’m here for Sebastián Borensztein’s Heroic Losers.

And of course I’m always interested in Polish cinema, so Monika Jordan-Młodzianowska’s debut feature, Iron Bridge, looks particularly interesting. I sense a number of more recent Polish films have inherited something from the Cinema of Moral Anxiety, although in these recent pictures everyday anxieties are felt with reference to a different, and increasingly concerning, social order than the old communist one of ‘70s and ‘80s. I don’t know how much Jordan-Młodzianowska has inherited from Kieślowski or his generation, but Iron Bridge looks like it could have been a short film in Dekalog.