Still from Rosa’s Wedding
Still from Rosa’s Wedding

Remaining true to its mission to present “the jewels of the fall season,” Miami Dade College’s (MDC) renowned, 38-year-old Miami Film Festival unveiled the first titles in its line-up for the seventh annual edition of its acclaimed Miami Film Festival GEMS, which will be held virtually this year from October 8-11.

“GEMS re-invents itself as a four-day bingeworthy app channel where you can watch one outstanding film after another,” said Miami Film Festival executive director Jaie Laplante.

Miami Film Festival will continue its partnership with Variety to host a virtual panel with some of the 10 Latinx To Watch on Friday, October 9, rescheduled from the March festival, with participants to be announced. The prestigious list of talent-on-the-rise, announced earlier this year, includes:

·      Melissa Barrera, actor (Vida, In the Heights).
·      Angel Bismark Curiel, actor (Pose, Critical Thinking, Latin History for Morons).
·      Julissa Calderon, actress (Gentefied).
·      Chesca, artist/singer/dancer.
·      Carolina Costa, cinematographer (Workforce, Hala, Wander Darkly).
·      Marina di Girolamo, actress (Ema).
·      Gonzalo Maza, writer/director (This is Cristina, A Fantastic Woman).
·      Cesar Mazariegos, writer/director (High & Mighty, The Simpsons).
·      Camila Mendes, actress (Palm Springs, Riverdale).
·      Tainy, music producer (Bad Bunny’s “X 100pre”)

Many already laureled with prestigious awards, the 2020 GEMS herald compelling stories from Africa, the Americas, Asia and Europe. Five films are the first selections of the season to compete for the GEMS Festival’s top prize, the $25,000 Knight MARIMBAS Award, supported by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. This is a juried prize for a film that best exemplifies richness and resonance for cinema’s future. The award is named after the marimba, a type of xylophone with wooden bars that produces a deeper, richer and more resonant tone. The titles are:

  • Black Bear (U.S.), directed by Lawrence Michael Levine and starring Aubrey Plaza, Sara Gadon and Christopher Abbot
  • Kokoloko (Mexico), directed by Gerardo Naranjo, which received a Best Actor prize for Noé Hernández at the 2020 Tribeca Film Festival
  • Night of the Kings (Ivory Coast, France, Canada, Senegal), directed by Philippe Lacôte, the Ivory Coast’s official submission in the Academy Awards’ Best International Feature Film category
  • Rosa’s Wedding (Spain), a mid-life comedy directed by Icíar Bollaín (U.S. Premiere)
  • Undine (Germany, France), directed by Christian Petzold, which received a Best Actress prize for Paula Beers at the 2020 Berlin Film Festival

The first two films announced to compete for the Festival’s 2021 $10,000 Jordan Ressler First Feature Film Award are both American films – Ekwa Msangi’s Farewell Amor and Emma Seligman’s Shiva Baby.

GEMS will host five special presentation screenings, including three films that were originally programmed for the 2020 Miami Film Festival in March but were cancelled due to the pandemic:

  • Out in the Open (Spain), directed by Benito Zambrano
  • This is Cristina (Chile), directed by Gonzalo Maza, the 2020 Miami Film Festival $10,000 Jordan Ressler First Feature Film Award winner, executive produced by Salma Hayek
  • Us Kids (U.S.), directed by Kim A. Snyder

The other two special presentations are:

  • My Prince Edward (Hong Kong), directed by Norris Wong Yee-Lam, winner of Best New Director at 2020 Hong Kong Film Awards
  • Sound of Metal (U.S., Belgium), directed by Darius Marder and starring Riz Ahmed

Competing for the Documentary Achievement Award are three American titles making their Florida premieres: Finding Yingying, directed by Jiayan “Jenny” Shin, We Don’t Deserve Dogs directed by Matthew Salleh and Women in Blue, directed by Deidre Fishel, which examines the challenges of a racial spectrum of women in law enforcement via the prism of Minneapolis Police Department in the months and years leading up to George Floyd’s death.

Additional films will be announced in the upcoming days.

All Spanish-language films in GEMS Miami Film Festival are supported by Viendomovies available with Xfinity and FlixLatino. Night of the Kings is supported by TV5Monde and Consulate General of Canada in Miami. Undine is supported by Consulate General of Federal Republic of Germany in Miami. Kokoloko is supported by AIDS Healthcare Foundation.

All-Access Virtual Passes from $25 and individual film passes from $9.99 are now on sale. The first 75 people to purchase the All-Access Virtual Pass will receive a GEMS-At-Home Viewing Kits filled with goodies to enhance your at-home festival experience. For more information on the festival, visit

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