The toast of Miami's diverse political, social and cultural scene partied into the wee hours, as the Miami International Film Festival officially opened its 23rd edition with a gala reception last night, following the World Premiere screening of HEARTLIFT (Lifting De Corazon). The Argentine-Spanish co-production was screened to a sold-out audience at the Gusman Center for the Performing Arts, a Spanish-style movie palace originally built in the 1930s. At the screening were the film's director Eliseo Subiela, Spanish producer Luis Ángel Bellaba, Argentine producers Carlos Rizzutti and Oscar Azar, lead actor Pep Munne and his stunning co-star, Argentine newcomer Moro Anghileri.
After the screening, over 1000 invited guests made their way to the expansive Sky Lobby of the Bank of America International Place Tower, the glittering jewel of Miami’s downtown skyline. Political, social and cultural figures mixed with filmmakers, film critics and industry professionals in the expansive space, which offered incredibly dramatic vistas of downtown Miami, Biscayne Bay and the glittering lights of South Beach in the distance.
A live art auction was held to benefit the year-round community outreach efforts of the Miami Film Society and Miami International Film Festival. Three customized surfboards, created by local artist/photographer Roberto Rabanne, were auctioned off. Each surfboard had the photographed image of a musician with Miami roots, specifically salsa queen Celia Cruz, reggae legend Bob Marley and international chanteuse Eha Urbsalu.
At a press conference held earlier in the day, HEARTLIFT's director Eliseo Subiela was visibily excited about the invitation of his newest film to open the Festival. Subiela has had four previous films at the Festival, including his Oscar-nominated debut MAN FACING SOUTHEAST (1988). "This film was a different one for me", Subiela said. "I am mainly known for my melancholy films, but as I get older, I am discovering the comedy in human relations and life."
HEARTLIFT's Spanish producer Luis Ángel Bellaba noted that that it was only fitting to have the world premiere of the film in Miami, since the script had been introduced three years earlier as a project in the parallel MIAMI ENCUENTROS co-production market. “We made our first international contacts in Miami during MIAMI ENCUENTROS”, Bellaba said, “and now it is very satisfying to be here with the finished film”.
The film has yet to be screened for public audiences, so filmgoers in Miami will be the first to see this very funny and well acted romantic comedy. "The film was shot in both Valencia, Spain and Buenos Aires, Argentina", producer Bellaba explained. "It is a great challenge for Latin American films to compete at the box office with Hollywood product and other excellent European films, but I think this film is at a high level and will reach audiences."
The film is being sold internationally by Paris-based sales agent Latido and doesn't yet have a US distributor. However, the tremendous response the film had with last night's audience will certainly create an interest from acquisition executives, who are expected in later in the week. In all, a very good and very promising start to 10 days of cinema excitement.
Sandy Mandelberger, Industry Editor