Miami fest boasts ‘Heartlift’

Film festival opens March 3

The world preem of Argentine helmer Eliseo Subiela’s plastic surgery comedy “Heartlift” and Jennifer Aniston starrer “Friends With Money” will bookend the 23rd Miami Film Festival, which opens March 3.

The pair are among 92 features and full-length docus unspooling at the 10-day event, up from 87 in 2005. Program includes 10 world preems, 17 North American premieres and 14 U.S. preems.

Fest also announced it will receive $250,000 over the next three years from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to create Knight grand jury prizes and to help finance festival marketing, which should boost its standing.

The grand jury prizes will now carry a cash award of $25,000 in each of three categories: dramatic features in the World Cinema section, in which 12 films are competing this year; dramatic features in the Ibero-American Cinema section, with 13 films; and documentary features, with 17 pics.

An audience award and a Fipresci international critics’ prize will also be awarded in each category.

Fest director Nicole Guillemet, now in her fourth year, has expanded the slate, introduced the competitive sections for frosh and soph filmmakers and added the Encuentros minimart for Ibero-American filmmakers.

Another 32 features and docus will screen outside of competition; the shorts program consists of 25 pics.

Some 60% of the full-length films screening are by first- or second-time helmers, Guillemet said. Program again emphasizes Ibero-American cinema.

Fest will honor director Wim Wenders with its career achievement tribute. It will also screen his “Don’t Come Knocking” as well as “Buena Vista Social Club.”

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