The feature film “Freda” and the short film “You Can Always Come Home,” two family dramas, won top prizes at the 39th Miami Dade College’s Miami Film Festival. Presented this year in a hybrid format, with indoor and virtual presentations, the 2022 Festival took place from March 4 to 13.
Making its U.S. premiere at this year’s Festival, “Freda,” directed by Géssica Généus, won the highest prize for its feature debut in Haiti, the $25,000 Knight MARIMBAS Prize. The winning film was selected by jury members Damon D’Oliveria, April Dobbins and Rubén Peralta Rigaud. About the film, the jury noted that “this film resonated with us all for its strong, female-centered narrative and outstanding performances by up-and-coming actors. We couldn’t stop thinking about this world and these characters, and enjoyed being immersed in a place we don’t often see on screen – portrayed so realistically, yet tenderly.
The jury also gave special recognition to “The Box” actor Haztin Navarrete and “Medusa” actress Mari Oliveira, saying, “for two magnetic performances we couldn’t take our eyes off of.”
The $55,000 Knight Made in MIA Film Award, supported by the Knight Foundation, is given to three films with a substantial portion of their content located in South Florida. They were evaluated by jury members Mollye Asher, Nicholas Griffin, Johann Zietsman and Keisha Rae Witherspoon, who won the Knight Made in MIA award for her 2020 short film, “T”.
“You Can Always Come Home,” directed by Juan Luis Matos, won the top prize of $30,000. The jury said, “This is a film that radiates the joyful spirit of Miami in its embrace of family, community and place while embodying the universal sense of home.” The second prize ($15,000) went to “In Beauty It Is Unfinished”, directed by Greko Sklavounos. The jury said: “This poetic offering is a magnificent fever dream that captures longing, shards of memory and a poetic look at a Miami that is both familiar but also new. Made personal.
Third prize ($10,000) went to “Un Pequeño Corte”, directed by Marianna Serrano.
Family drama “You Resemble Me,” directed by Dina Amer, won the $10,000 Jordan Ressler First Feature Award. Sponsored by the South Florida family of the late Jordan Ressler, the award is given to the best film directed by a filmmaker making their feature-length narrative debut. The selection committee, made up of 2019 Jordan Ressler Award winner Estrella Araiza, Jonathan Cuartas and Alexandre Moratto, said in a statement: “We chose the film for its bold portrayal of fragmented identity and social inequality in through his masterful weaving of styles. Part intimate character study, part current affairs drama, part documentary, this fearless filmmaker, a former journalist who reported on the real events that inspired the film, takes a personal approach that is both serious and disturbing, moving and provocative. The Jordan Ressler First Feature Award goes to Dina Amer for You Look Like Me.
The drama Carajita, co-produced by Wooden Boat Productions (Dominican Republic) and Pucará Cine (Argentina), won the $10,000 HBO Ibero-American Feature Award. The film, about issues of class and race in Latin America and the Caribbean, was selected by jurors Carlos Aguilar, Leslie Cohen and Brandon Harris. The annual award is given to the best Hispanic American or Ibero-American narrative feature film and is awarded to the lead producer or production company.
Set during the era of China’s Cultural Revolution, the war drama “One Second” won the Rene Rodriguez Critics Award. The film is directed by Chinese filmmaker Zhang Yimou, a three-time Academy Award nominee for Best Foreign Language Film.
Felipe Perez Santiago, composer of Amalgama, won the Alacran Music in Film Award. The award highlights the power of music and film and celebrates the role of the film composer.
The shorts category is dominated by the $10,000 WarnerMedia OneFifty Latino Short Film Award, judged by programmers from HBO and the Miami Film Festival, which awards $5,000 to the winner and $1,250 each to the four finalists. The top prize went to New York-based Puerto Rican filmmaker Ricardo Varona’s dramatic short ‘Hector’s Woman (La mujer de Héctor)’, with other awards going to ‘Chilly & Milly’, ‘It’s Not Her (No Es Ella )”, “For some horses (Por unos caballos)” and “The year of the radio (El Año del Radio)”.
Pakistani filmmaker Ali Sohail Jaura has won the $5,000 Miami International Short Film Prize, awarded by select members of the Miami Film Festival program committee, for his historical war drama “Murder Tongue.”
The $500 University of Miami Documentary Short Prize went to “The Originals,” directed by Cristina Costantini and Alfie Koetter.
The romantic comedy “Cariño”, directed by Fernanda Lamuño, won the Audience Award for Short Film.
This year’s Best Poster award went to two outstanding images. Designed by Jump Cut’s Nate Biller, the poster for period drama ‘Parsley’ evoked the style of 1930s Hollywood epics, according to the Festival’s judging panel, while “subverting those traditions by featuring Latino characters /black Haitians” to create a timely statement that is both “poignant and powerful.” Sander Brouwer’s work for the Chilean thriller “Immersion”, highlighting a man who does not want to help a sinking boat, “tremendously moved” the judges.
Returning in 2022 is the Florida Cinemaslam Student Film Award of $1,000, with its cash prize for the gay character study “The Truth of a Thousand Nights,” directed by Chris Molina. Other non-monetary awards were given in five categories: “Offside”, directed by Emiliano Gioffre (Best Screenplay), “Offside”, directed by Emiliano Gioffre (Best Actor), “One Call Away”, directed by Camila Marcano ( Best Actress), “Cut Short”, directed by Charlie Andelman (best cinematography) and “Symfaunic”, directed by Erin Bergin and Darby Kate Snyder (best technical achievement).
The winners of the Audience Award for Feature Film and the Documentary Award, determined by a vote of Festival audience members, will be announced after the end of the Festival.