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5 essential film festivals in Miami and Miami Beach in 2019

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  • Miami is a diverse city, mixing people and cultural influences from Cuba, Haiti, Brazil and plenty of other places. It’s also a hotspot of contemporary art, especially since the arrival of mega art fair Art Basel. But contemporary art isn’t the only thing happening in Miami; the city is also home to a number of film festivals in the coming year. Below are five festivals worth adding to your vacation itinerary—or possibly even curating your vacation around.

    Given its size, longevity and popularity, the Miami International Film Festival (March 6-15, 2020) is an obvious choice. Operating since 1984, it’s since expanded to numerous venues across Miami, offering audiences a mix of international and Ibero-American films. With an annual attendance of about 45,000 people, it’s big enough to attract the attention of major media outlets like Variety, The Hollywood Reporter and Indiewire. As you might expect of such prestige, the content has been correspondingly strong and polished, such as Aretha Franklin documentary Amazing Grace (2019), or Paul Schrader’s highly-praised First Reformed (2018).

    The 24th American Black Film Festival (June 17-21, 2020) will arrive in Miami Beach this year with five days’ worth of films and television content, all made by black artists. Some of the festival’s past creators have gone on to enjoy massive mainstream success, like Ryan Coogler, the director of Black Panther (2018). The festival’s website says it has “significantly expanded the range of talent working in the entertainment industry.” Given the breadth of its programming—from Hollywood premieres to independent film screenings and master classes—it’s easy to see why this festival is a bastion for black creatives.

    The OUTshine Film Festival (April 16-26, 2020) has ran under several names in the past, having been combined from two separate festivals in Miami and Ft. Lauderdale. The festival continues to run in both locations, but its purpose remains singular: to showcase LGBTQ+ cinema from places near and far. From comedies about quirky queer teens like Freak Show (2018) to lesbian dramas from Brazil (Querida Mamae, 2018), the festival speaks to the sweeping multitude of queer stories in today’s cinema.

    The Miami Short Film Festival isn’t kidding when they call their content “short,” as all their films run under 20 minutes. Since 2002, the festival has served up short stories meant to captivate audiences regardless of runtime. It’s also designed as a springboard for “the next generation of talented filmmakers,” as the festival’s website says. These films may be short, but they come from all over the world, relaying a fast-paced and eclectic mix of stories. The 2018 program, for instance, included screenings curated around topics like “Perfect Toxic Relations” and “Myths & Legends”—heady stuff to explore in only a few minutes!

    Slamdance (May 28-31, 2020) will also make its first appearance in Miami this year. The festival is held each year in Park City, Utah, and has debuted several big names in modern moviemaking, like Rian Johnson and Ari Aster. The Miami version’s selections will largely focus on emerging filmmakers from Central and South America, the Caribbean, and Florida—a choice very apropos of the surrounding area’s diversity.

    If you need a hotel room in Miami or Miami Beach, check MiamiHotels.org. For upscale or boutique hotels, Luxury-Hotels.com is a good option. If you want to stay in downtown Miami, we recommend the InterContinental Miami. Situated in the business district, this luxury hotel (spa included!) offers lux views of the Biscayne Bay. Rates start from $276/night.

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