The Miami International Film Festival has been enriching the community for the last 30 years, and this year was no different, with a film program that ran from March 1-10 and presented a whopping 117 feature length and short films from 41 countries. This year’s festival also featured numerous panel discussions and programs, including master class seminars with the directors of Cocaine Cowboys and Bonsai.
The Miami Film Festival continues to be one of Miami’s signature annual events, with a program as international as its residents, the film fest helps mark Miami as an ever growing hub for the arts. These are a few of the films that were featured in this year’s festival program:
The Boy Who Smells Like Fish
Mica (played by Douglas Smith) is a boy with a strange condition, he suffers from the rare disorder, Trimethylaminura, which causes him to smell like fish. Mica’s quiet and strange life is shaken when he meets Laura (played by Zoe Kravitz).
Towards the beginning of the film, Laura could be viewed as a typical Manic Pixie Dream Girl, whose only purpose is to awaken the main character through her whimsy and charm, but as the film progresses, we find out that Laura also has a secret and through her interactions with Mica, she grows along with him.
The Boy Who Smells like Fish is the first film by director, Analein Cal y Mayor, and it provided a lighthearted escape from some of the more intense subject matters of the film program. The film featured a strong cast, however it slightly missed the mark as a humorous film, other than the fairy god father like character, Guillermo Garibai(played by Gonzalo Vega), who is also a an iconic Mexican singer. The Boy Who Smells like Fish provided a platform that shed light on what it is like to grow up without fitting in, but it did not quiet do its job as a memorable film you will take with you for a long time to come.
Lucas (expertly played by Mads Mikkelsen) is a kindergarten teacher in Denmark, who is beloved by his students and his community, but is fighting for custody of his son. Lucas’s life is soon torn apart because of a lie told by his best friend’s daughter. Because of this lie, Lucas is exiled from his tight knit community and the people closest to him begin to doubt him.
The result is a roller coaster drama in which the only ones who know the truth about Lucas are Lucas and the viewer. The film starts off by showing a community where everyone takes care of each other, but as the film progresses; the entire community is negatively affected by an innocent lie from a child. The result is an edge of your seat drama that won’t let go until the credits roll, while at the same time revealing truths about who we are as people, especially when trust has vanished.
The Patience Stone
A young woman living in Afghanistan is caring for her husband, who is in a vegetative state because of a bullet in the neck. Now that her husband, a former soldier, is in a coma, she speaks to him about her inner most desires, her secrets and their life through her eyes.
Her confessions are that of a survivor and as she is telling him her secrets, she is in constant danger, as her physical world crumbles around her because she is living in the front lines of war. However, she is more fearful of what is coming out of her mouth and what she is telling her husband than the present danger she faces.
As the film progressed, the Miami audience was constantly holding their breath because of the danger this young woman faces at every point of the film. The Patience Stone forces one to be on high alert for danger at all times while the young woman is discovering herself and accepting her decisions that were made for the sake of survival.
This film is unforgettable and shows how through the hardest of times, comes the truest of moments.
Post Tenebras Lux
This film follows the lives of Juan and his family, as an upper middle class urban family living in the Mexican countryside. Juan is a good father and friend; however he occasionally loses his cool in certain situations and can be very cruel and thoughtless as a result. A traumatic experience, forces Juan to look inside himself and his purpose.
The most powerful statements made by this film were through the stark differences of the scenes that featured the world through the eyes of children versus the adults’ point of view. The scenes that focused on the children showed them soaking in their environment with wondrous enjoyment. The scenes that featured adults, showed them wrapped up in conversation about themselves and each other, completely unaware of their environment.
The film proved haunting in showing truths about adult life through a more experimental and often times hard to watch medium. As Juan realizes who he has become and what he wants to be instead, he says that he remembers being a child, where all he had to do was exist, a time where he says he loved everything.
Far Out Isn’t Far Enough: The Tomi Ungerer Story
Contributed by Monica Torres
“No matter how far you are thinking, it is still not far enough.” Tomi Ungerer
Tomi Ungerer’s Far Out Isn’t Far Enough: The Tomi Ungerer Story was screened at Miami International Film Festival. Who is Tomi Ungerer? Well, that’s an excellent question. The relatively unknown artist first came on the New York 60’s scene as a magazine illustrator gaining successes in the The Village Voice and New York Times. Ungerer is best known as a children’s book author. He received the coveted Hans Christian Anderson Award for illustration in 1998. He wrote and illustrated the children’s books, Crictor, Moon Man, and The Three Roberts, among many others.
Ungerer’s anti-racism and anti-Vietnam posters Eat, Kiss For Peace, Black Power/White Power, made him a powerful icon of the counter-culture, testing the boundaries of the status quo at the time through the politically-fueled messages. Of his experiences with war, Ungerer said, “but the creative spark is not enough. You have to get some gasoline for the spark to be of use…I’ve experienced war so that made me very alert. I just feel like I have to do something about it. My Vietnam posters, I did them all in a day, in a total state of anger.”
Through his politically-fueled art depicting the war in Vietnam, he may have helped a generation know its demons, bringing them forth in order to excorcise them.
“What you bring forth out of yourself from the inside will save you. What you do not bring forth out of yourself from the inside will destroy you.”
Ungerer was also notorious for his highly sexualized illustrations depicting sado-masochistic scenes. Both as a writer and illustrator of children’s books and erotica, simultaneously innocent and perverted, Ungerer displayed these raw, uncensored complexities and contradictions of the human psyche, rich with all its monsters and fairy-god mothers.
“When I draw, it’s a real need. It’s the kind of need like if your hungry, you have to eat. Or if you have to go to the toilet or something like this. It’s got to go out.”
The directorial feature-film debut of Brad Bernstein, also the writer and producer, Far Out Isn’t Far Enough is an artistic film that weaves illustrated visuals of Ungerer’s own work with documentary footage of events, such as the Vietnam War, which fueled many of Ungerer’s artistic creations. Bernstein and his creative partners at Corner of the Cave Media-Rick Cikowski and Brandon Dumlao-have pieced together almost 80-years worth of Ungerer’s art, animating sketches, anti-Vietnam posters, children’s books and erotica, into a visually compelling documentary.
“If I look backwards, my life has been a fairytale as I say with all its monsters. I think we all have many characters within ourselves and sometimes the most important characters we have within ourselves are demons-our demons lurking and ready to claw. It’s very important to know our demons.”