In March of 2006, the Miami International Film Festival will launch a new program, MIFF Abroad, which will celebrate the filmmaking of one Latin American country each year, starting with Chile at this year’s festival.

“For the first year of MIFF Abroad, we have chosen Chile. It is a logical and strong choice, given the tremendous resurgence of filmmaking there, with many new directors bringing outstanding first and second films to fruition. The aim of the program is to support creative filmmaking from Latin America by focusing resources and media attention on the work of first and second time filmmakers,” said Festival Director Nicole Guillemet.

“In the spirit of collaboration and exchange, we are looking forward to celebrating this event around Chilean cinema,” said Eduardo Machuca, Director, Cultural Affairs of the Ministry of the Exterior, Chile.

MIFF Abroad, sponsored by American Airlines, has been developed in partnership with the Chilean Ministry of Culture, the Consulate General of Chile in Miami, and emerging Chilean producers including Cristina Littin (“El Rey de San Gregorio”/MIFF World Premiere) and Úrsula Budnik (“La Sagrada Familia”/MIFF North American Premiere).

MIFF Abroad will consist of two components. The first, held in Miami at the 2006 Festival in March, will exhibit the work of emerging Chilean Filmmakers to US audiences, press, film critics, and industry professionals. The second, held in April, will support Chilean filmmakers’ development and production process by bringing to Santiago a group of film industry advisors (producers, marketing executives, filmmakers, critics, etc.). This group will share knowledge, build contacts, and increase exposure to media and film industry professionals.

The two components, taken together, comprise a genuine cultural exchange. In Miami, US audiences will be exposed to the latest in Chilean cinema. In Santiago, MIFF will further contacts between US and Chilean film professionals and help encourage greater support and infrastructure in Chile. In more detail, the two components are as follows:

Miami. Seven films and over a dozen emerging filmmakers will be invited to MIFF 2006, and present their films to Miami audiences and invited film industry guests. In addition, MIFF plans to organize discussions and other events to celebrate the resurgence of Chilean filmmaking.

The selection of Chilean films will include:

“El Rey de San Gregorio” (Ibero-American Dramatic Competition)

Director, Alfonso Gazitúa (World Premiere)

Love blooms for a severely disabled garbage picker living in the slums of San Gregorio, Chile. Pedro Vargas plays himself in a haunting performance brimming with romantic intensity. Alfonso Gazitúa’s touching, troubling romance offers an unvarnished look at the inner lives of those living on the margins in Chile’s urban underworld.

“En la Cama” (Ibero-American Dramatic Competition)

Director, Matías Bize (East Coast Premiere)

With the help of two superb and literally naked performances and a screenplay that owes much to Richard Linklater and playwright Terrence McNally, Chilean director Matías Bize has found a place so sensual that you’ll forget all you know about sex in the movies – and then rediscover it.

“Fuga” (International Panorama)

Director, Pablo Larrían (World Premiere)

Montalbán is a young musician haunted by a melody from which he composes an avant-garde symphony and then disappears into madness. Years later, Ricardo Coppa, a mediocre musician, obsesses over finding the lost composition and claiming it as his own–a Salieri of the times. Along with a group of musicians, he tackles a trip in search of Montalbán and the forgotten musical creation.

“La Sagrada Familia” (Ibero-American Dramatic Competition)

Director, Sebastián Campos (North American Premiere)

A stable middle class family is shaken to its roots when the son‘s seductive, nonconformist girlfriend descends on their beach house and flirts with the father. The son seeks revenge in this smartly acted, partially improvised comedy of manners which takes place over three days. Family values take a humorous beating.

“Paréntesis” (International Panorama)

Directors, Francisca Schweitzer and Pablo Solis (East Coast Premiere)

Camilo suffers from insomnia and works nights at a video rental store. Tired of his aimless ways his girlfriend, Pola, asks for a weeklong break to distance herself and clear up their relationship. In the middle of this parentheses, Mikela, an eccentric 16 year old girl, shows Camilo a simpler and more immediate world. Camilo lives a more harmonized existence until she disappears.

“Pretendiendo” (International Panorama)

Director, Claudio Dabed (World Premiere)

When her husband cheats on her with her best friend, a beautiful woman (played by Barbara Mori) swears off relationships and remakes herself in a new town. A chauvinist co-worker’s remarks soon draw her back into the battle of the sexes, however. Claudio Dabed’s comedy combines sharp observations about inter-gender friendship with farcical hijinks to winning effect.

“Play” (International Panorama)

Director, Alicia Scherson

(Oscar Entry, Best Foreign Language Film, Chile)

A lonely man and a lonely woman almost cross paths as they search for love in a hostile city. Cristina takes care of an old man in what she sees is a modest city; Tristan wanders, heartbroken, in what he sees is a very modern city. Both live in loveless relationships. Chile’s Oscar entry for Best Foreign Language Film, PLAY examines small things and looks for clues as to what makes us breathe in a city that denies itself.

Santiago. MIFF will bring to Santiago a small delegation of US film professionals – distributors, producers, and press, headed by a leading US film critic. This delegation will conduct panels and discussions with Chilean filmmakers, other local film industry professionals, students, and also with members of the public at large. MIFF will also showcase five films from the 2006 festival for local audiences.

The twenty-third annual Miami International Film Festival will take place from March 3-12. From the white sands of South Beach to the Latin cuisine of Little Havana, Miami is gearing up for the 23rd Miami International Film Festival (March 3rd – 12th).

For more info, visit the Miami International Film Festival website.

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