The Miami International Film Festival lived up the ‘international’ in its name Friday night with the showing on opening night of Spain’s hit film My Big Night (Mi Gran Noche), and welcoming its star, Raphael, onto the stage of Miami’s famed Olympia Theater, and later to the after party held across the street in the historic Dupont Building.
“Every year Spain has the most movies outside of the United States in this festival. I love Spain, I love movies from Spain, and this film, My Big Night, is a pop masterpiece. I think you’re going to understand why this movie works when you meet its star, the one, the only, the incomparable Raphael,” said Jaie Laplante, the festival’s executive director and programming director, as he introduced the longtime pop singing sensation. Moments earlier, he had opened the festival, inaugurating its 33rd season.
“I want to thank everyone for being here. It is a great pleasure to come back to Miami, and I am very proud to be here with my latest film, which is my first film in many, many years,” said Raphael, through a translator, as he energetically hopped onto the steps of the stage moments before the film’s U.S. debut.
A worldwide acclaimed singer, acclaimed actor and showman, Raphael is considered a major influence in having opened the door for the Spanish singers that followed on the wake of his enormous success.
“Alex de la Iglesia (the director) has been trying to bring me back to the cinema for many years and I said you have to bring me a script because if you don’t bring me a great script I am not going to do this,” Raphael told the sold-out audience at the vintage movie house. “I loved the script so I said, ‘Okay, let’s do it, and two years later, the film is here for you to enjoy tonight,” he added.
“I am willing to come back and do more films – four or five. I want to do a different character every time so I have played a whole array of characters by the end of my career,” said Raphael, who will appear in concert on June 18 at the James L. Knight International Center here.
My Big Night is a zany comedy in which plots multiply and tempers explode among a cast of extras rapped on a set for days, filming a raucous New Year’s Eve party scene over and over for a film. Overseeing it all is Raphael, who plays Alphonso, a maniacal pop star who refuses to be displaced.
The move is among the 129 films, including 100 feature films and documentaries and 29 short films produced and directed by both renowned and emerging talent from 40 countries will be shown. There will also be numerous important premieres, including 12 World, one International, 16 North American and 13 US premieres, debuting in Miami.
There will also be special features, most notably the new Marquee Series, which will showcase dedicated, on-stage conversations with major personalities of the moment, each sharing a new work.
In keeping with the festival’s commitment to local filmmakers, Florida Focus will showcase films partially or wholly shot in the Sunshine State by filmmakers who are native or currently residing here.
For those who enjoy to pair their film experience with partying, the Soiree Series will offer a memorable night out by blending an inspiring and entertaining film that will segue into a memorable social experience designed along the theme of the film.
Music lovers can immerse themselves in Reel Music, which will feature five films that exemplify the global power of music, and also highlighting new and emerging talents in an array of genres.
There is even a special film series for children, dubbed MIFFicito, which features films specially selected for youngsters that the entire family can enjoy as well.
Screenings will take place throughout Greater Miami, including the historic Olympia Theater, which will host the opening and closing night films, as well as others. Additional theaters include MDC’s Tower Theater, Regal Cinemas South Beach, O Cinema Miami Beach, Coral Gables Art Cinema, Cinépolis in Coconut Grove, and Miami Beach Cinematheque.
The festival continues through Sunday, March 13.
More info: Miami International Film Festival