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European Films On The Red Carpet In Miami

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There is nothing quite so glamorous as the Red Carpet at a film festival. Popping flash bulbs, the crush of the paparazzi, the push of the crowd, the rare opportunity of seeing world-class filmmakers and celebrities, the sheer excitement in the air. Glamour is definitely on tap as the 25th Miami International Film Festival presents a strong program of European films in all their glory from February 28 to March 9.

Among the high profile films from Europe, none has quite the stellar cast of Flawless by UK director Michael Radford (winner of the British Academy Award for directing the well-loved Il Postino). Double Oscar winner Michael Caine (The Ciderhouse Rules) teams up with Hollywood superstar Demi Moore (Indecent Proposal) for a sensational jewel robbery in the US Premiere of the heist film.

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Two Academy Award nominees in the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar race have their US Premieres at the Festival. Katyn [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Andrzej Wajda
interview: Michal Kwiecinski
film profile
]
, a powerful historical drama about one of the most horrendous atrocities of World War II, is the latest cinematic masterpiece of acclaimed Polish director Andrzej Wajda. The 81-year-old director received a special Lifetime Achievement Oscar in 2000 for his 50 plus year career as one of Europe’s leading cinematic lights. Another Oscar nominee also comes from a distinguished European film talent. Director Sergei Bodrov’s sweeping historical epic Mongol is the story of Genghis Khan, one of history’s most legendary warriors.

Spanish cinema is strongly represented in a city where the Spanish language is more primary than English. Veteran auteur Carlos Saura continues his exploration of the worlds of music and dance with his visually arresting film Fados [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
, a portrait of the music known as the “Portuguese blues”. Iciar Bollain, the acclaimed director of the festival hit Te doy mis ojos (Take My Eyes) [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
, returns to Miami with the feminist detective drama Mataharis, which features some of Spain’s most exciting acting talents. In Bajo las estrellas (Under The Stars) [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
, director Felix Viscarret presents the story of an arrogant jazz trumpeter, who has been numbed by life in Madrid, until he rediscovers his roots (and his humanity) when he returns to his native village to attend his father’s funeral. Festival favorite Ventura Pons is back with the US Premiere of Barcelona, un mapa (Barcelona, A Map), an urban symphony that artfully captures the emotional dissonance of six Barcelonians living together in a faded apartment building.

The Spanish focus continues with such films as Casual Day, the International Premiere of a rich black comedy by director Max Lemcke. The laughs and realizations come fast and furiously as a new trainee, who is engaged to the boss’s daughter, participates in a company staff retreat. In En la ciudad de Sylvia [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
, director Jose Luis Guerin tells the tale of a young artist who wanders the streets of Strasbourg, in desperate of a long-lost love. In the taut, existential thriller King Of The Hill, director Gonzalo Lopez Gallergo spins a fable of two strangers who become lost in rural Spain and become the literal target for an unseen shooter. In Invisibles, executive producer Javier Bardem (a recent Oscar honoree) enlisted five filmmakers, including Isabel Coixet, Fernando Leon de Aranoa, Mariano Barroso, Javier Corcuera and Wim Wenders, to craft a documentary compilation of short films that shed light on the ills of poverty. And finally, Spanish director Rafa Cortes, named international film critics association FIPRESCI’s “Revelation of the Year”, creates a strong impression in Yo (Me), a beautifully shot and richly atmospheric mood piece of a handyman at a wealthy estate who slowly begins to assume the identity of his predecessor, who disappeared under mysterious circumstances.

This is the first of several reports on the European films making their North American and US Premieres at the Miami International Film Festival. Many are in competition for prizes, which will be announced at the Festival’s Awards Gala on Saturday, March 8. Stay tuned for future coverage…...

By Sandy Mandelberger, North American Editor

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