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"Daughter of Rage" and Other Hottest Movies at The 2023 Miami Film Festival

Medal and Sevilla hitch a ride in Daughter of Rage / Photo courtesy of Miami Film Festival and BFF

Medal and Sevilla hitch a ride in Daughter of Rage / Photo courtesy of Miami Film Festival and BFF

The Miami Film Festival is more than a regional event for cinephiles looking for a respite from the hot Caribbean sun. As it celebrates its 40th edition, it remains a crucial entry point to the American market for Ibero-American films. You will find your share of high-profile films coming off other festivals - like Patricia Ortega’s Mamacruz, fresh off Sundance- but plenty of Spanish-speaking filmmakers premiere at Miami fest for its historic commitment to el cine en español.

Far from insular, the program embraces its multicultural identity. The program includes more than 140 films from 30 countries. Star wattage comes from Nicolas Cage, who will get the Variety Legends and Groundbreakers Award, and Mexican actor Diego Luna, winner of the Variety Virtuoso Award. Sun and parties are good but do not forget the most important thing is the movies. Check out some of the titles we are looking forward to catching.

DAUGHTER OF RAGE

Fresh off its premiere at the Toronto Film Festival, Laura Baumeister's hard-hitting drama debuts in the U.S. Maria (Ara Alejandra Medal) is an 11-year-old girl devoted to her mother, Lilibeth (Virginia Sevilla) as they do menial work to survive in Nicaragua’s largest landfill. They may be poor, but they have each other, at least until unexpected circumstances force them apart. The movie is in the run for the Jonathan Ressler First Feature award. You can see Baumeister’s short film Ombligo de Agua at Popflick.

EL VISITANTE

An ex-convict tries to rejoin life outside the jail as he competes for his daughter's affection against her stepfather. But here is a catch. The other man has an advantage, being an influential evangelical pastor in a conservative society. The movie won the Best Screenplay Award at the International Narrative Competition at the 2022 Tribeca Film Festival.

DEAR GRANDMA

Mikel (Jose Usabiaga) is a young basque man who impulsively moves to Argentina and gets more than he bargained for when his distant relatives force him to participate in an elaborate ruse to make grandma believe she is living in her village in the 50's. Wackiness and romantic adventures with the locals ensue.

CAIRO CONSPIRACY

Adam (Tawfeek Barhom) is a young and innocent Islam student who gets mixed up in a deadly conspiracy around the election of a new Grand Iman. Faith and politics collide in a volatile plot. Tarek Saleh’s movie was in the running for the Palme d’Or at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival and earned the Best Screenplay Award. Cairo Conspiracy is an outstanding follow-up to his international breakthrough, The Nile Hilton Incident (2017).

15 WAYS TO KILL YOUR NEIGHBOR

Director-Screenwriter Santiago Mitre is the favorite to snatch the Best Foreign Film Oscar with Argentina, 1985, but the overachieving filmmaker has another 2022 title doing its festival run. José (Daniel Handler) and Lucie (Vimala Ponds) are a couple of Argentinian expats living in France, going through a midlife crisis made even more acute by the demands of raising a baby. When José loses his job, he finds an outlet for his simmering rage in a testy friendship with his snotty French neighbor Jean-Claude (Melvil Poupaud). Distributed in France as Petite Fleur (Little Flower) for reasons I would like someone to explain.

EL CUARTO PASAJERO

A high-concept romantic comedy gets very twisted, thanks to the dark sensibility of Spain’s prime cult filmmaker, Alex de la Iglesia. Alberto San Juan, Blanca Suárez, Ernesto Alterio, and Rubén Cortada use an application to share a car ride to Madrid, with an unexpected detour through chaos and mayhem.

MARTINEZ

Martinez is a lonely, mature Chilean bachelor living in Mexico City. As he faces impending retirement, he gets obsessed with his downstairs neighbor, a romantically-minded, equally lonely woman. Alas, there is one caveat: she died a few weeks before. The whole relationship develops post-mortem, with the man rummaging through her discarded belongings. It sounds dark, but Lorena Padilla’s debut film is an understated comedy with large reserves of compassion for her eccentric characters.

LEILA’S BROTHERS

Leila (Taraneh Alidoosti) cares for her elderly father and four spineless brothers. Such is the lot of women in conservative Iran, but Leila is no wallflower. When her father comes up with an unexpected inheritance, formidable Leila maps out a plan to push the family upwards on the social scale, but her efforts might just as well doom them, too. Saeed Roustayi’s film was in the run for the Palme d’Or at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival and got the FIPRESCI Award.

KLONDIKE

Maryna Er Gorbach’s film follows a family living on the frontier between Russia and Ukraine as the war between the two countries begins. A civilian airplane crashes nearby and pushes the conflict to the extreme. Any similarity with headlines is not a coincidence. The movie won the Best Directing Award at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival and the Panorama Prize, and the Ecumenical Jury Prize at the 2022 Berlin Film Festival.

THE BEAST

Denis Menochet and Marina Fois are a French couple who move to an idyllic rural town in Galicia, Spain. He may be pursuing a lifelong dream, but it becomes a real-life nightmare when they get on the wrong side of their new neighbors. The trailer triggers memories of Straw Dogs (Sam Peckinpah, 1971) and Canoa (Felipe Cazals, 1976). The Beasts was the biggest winner at the Goya Awards, gathering nine prizes, including Best Film and Best Director. It also won the César Award for Best International Film.

HOW TO BLOW UP A PIPELINE

A group of young anti-oil activists is about to discover that one person’s protest is another one’s terrorist threat. After making the gimmicky horror Cam (2018), Daniel Goldhaber serves an incendiary drama about idealist youth playing with fire. The cast includes Sasha Lane, discovered by Andrea Arnold in the outstanding American Honey (2016), and Lukas Gage, who played a hapless cabana boy in the first season of HBOMax's breakthrough hit series The White Lotus.

THE PUNISHMENT

Chilean director Matías Bizé put marital strife inside a pressure cooker with Antonia Zegers and Néstor Cantillana playing a couple who punish their kid by dropping him in a forest during a family outing. They return for him a few minutes later, but he is nowhere to be found. Did he get lost, or maybe, he hid away to torment them and get even? Catalina Saavedra (The Maid) plays a policewoman who must find the truth. Think Bunny Lake is Missing (Otto Prmeinger, 1965) meets Antichrist (Lars von Trier, 2009).

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