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Miami Film Festival Announces Its Awards

The 25th edition of the Miami International Film Festival held its Gala Awards Ceremony last night at the historic Gusman Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Miami. The Festival prizes are not just simple accolades.....each is accompanied by a $25,000 cash prize, one of the highest on the film festival circuit. The inclusion of this major cash award has greatly increased interest from filmmakers and the distribution sector in submitting their projects. The list of winners follows.

2008 MIFF COMPETITION AWARDS

Dramatic Features: World Cinema Competition

Knight Grand Jury Prize: TRICKS (SZTUCZKI)
Andrzej Jakimowski’s picaresque film is about a fatherless boy who tries to tempt fate in this charming and bittersweet film from Poland.
Special Mention: IT'S HARD TO BE NICE (TESKO JE BITI FIN)
Srdan Vuletic’s urban fairytale about post-war society from Bosnia follows a Sarajevo taxi driver whose attempts to change his life for the better are met with resistance at all turns.
Special Mention: FOUL GESTURE (TNUAH MEGUNA)
Itshak (Tzahi) Gradi’s film about vendetta and vigilantism centers on a middle-aged man who decides to take justice into his own hands after becoming the victim of a road rage incident.
Dramatic Features: Ibero-American Competition

Knight Grand Jury Prize: COCHOCHI
This Mexican road movie and fairytale by Israel Cárdenas and Laura Amelia Guzmán is part of this year’s MIFF Abroad program.
Knight Grand Jury Prize: EAT, FOR THIS IS MY BODY
Michelange Quay’s debut feature explores the spiritual corrosion of Haiti’s colonialist legacy with surreal, often wordless imagery.
Special Mention: THE GIRLS (LAS NIÑAS)
Using film as a scalpel to cut open the feminine mystique, Chilean director Rodrigo Marín’s two-hander pierces the heart of female relationships with uncanny perception.
Special Mention: BLUE EYELIDS (PARPADOS AZULES)
Quiet and nuanced, Ernesto Contrera’s touching dramatic comedy from Mexico explores the role that destiny plays in shaping our lives.
Documentary Features: World and Ibero-American Competition

Knight Grand Jury Prize: SANTIAGO
A fascinating meditation on the measure of a man, João Moreira Salles’ splintered documentary is a portrait that is both proud and profoundly erudite.
Special Mention: SANTA FE STREET (CALLE SANTA FÉ)
Calle Santa Fé is Carmen Castillo's poignantly personal journey to the homeland she was forced to leave behind, as well as her search for meaning in the struggle against oppression.
Special Mention: A PAPER TIGER (UN TIGRE DE PAPEL)
Luis Ospina’s dazzling, wickedly playful portrait of Manrique Figueroa mirrors his own country’s political upheaval from the 1940s to the 1970s.
Shorts Competition

Knight Grand Jury Prize: HOMECOMING
Connie Diletti’s film explores post-war trauma. While trying to process the indigestible experience of war, Drew tries to bring a friend home with him.
Honorable Jury Mention: TRAUMOLOGY (TRAUMOLOGIA)
Daniel Sánchez Arévalo’s follows Antonio’s wedding, where his father has a heart attack and whole family goes to the hospital where all of their traumas and miseries appear during a tense night.
Special Mention for Best Animated Short Film: MADAME TUTLI PUTLI
Is Chris Lavis’ and Maciek Szcerbowski’s film a Hitchcockian suspense or an artistic tour de force? The night train awaits you…
Special Mention for Best First-Time Director: OVERNIGHT A ROSE
Viv Koh’s film is about overcoming lies and the nature of true love.
MIFF Audience Awards

Dramatic Features: World Cinema Competition: BLISS (MUTLULUK)
Abdullah Oguz’s intense and beautifully rendered drama boasts stellar performances and a compelling musical score and stunning images of the Sea of Marmara.
Dramatic Features: Ibero-American Cinema Competition: LA ZONA
Rodrigo Plá’s taut thriller doubles as a damning critique of Mexico City’s shocking economic disparity. Once threatened, an enclave of privilege sheds all pretense of civility to succumb to the basest of instincts—the deadly mob mentality.
Documentary Features: World & Ibero-American Competition: STRANDED: I'VE COME FROM A PLANE THAT CRASHED IN THE MOUNTAINS (VENGO DE UN AVIÓN QUE CAYÓ EN LAS MONTAÑAS)
Through the use of carefully constructed dramatizations, news footage, and interviews with survivors atop the crash site, filmmaker Gonzalo Arijón crafts a moving testament to the strength and endurance of the human spirit.
FIPRESCI International Critics Award

FOUL GESTURE (TNUAH MAGUNA)
Itshak (Tzahi) Gradi’s film about vendetta and vigilantism centers on a middle-aged man who decides to take justice into his own hands after becoming the victim of a road rage incident.

Following the Gala Awards Ceremony, the Festival offered the pleasure of the Closing Night Film, LA SCONOSCIUTA (THE UNKNOWN WOMAN) by Oscar-winning Italian director Guiseppe Tornatore (CINEMA PARADISO). The film, a suspenseful thriller, has been a great box office success in its native Italy and throughout Europe. It won the Audience Award at the European Film Awards and was a major winner at the David di Donatello Awards (the Italian Oscars), winning awards as Best Film, Best Director, Best Actress, Best Cinematography and Best Music.

A who’s who of Miami’s cultural world mixed with visiting filmmakers and industry professionals at the Awards After Party. Dance music of all stripes spun on the turntable, as filmmakers let loose after an intense week of screenings and Miami International Film Festival staffers let their hair down after months of hard work and dedication. Music, dancing and drinking continued into the wee hours, as Miami threw one of its most lavish and sexy parties on a South Beach Saturday night. It was MIFF’s night to party, and party it did.

Sandy Mandelberger, Awards Watch Editor on fest21.com

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