Cinematic Spotlight

FEATURE: Opening weekend marks an exciting festival run

The Oscars are only about a week past and the art of film is still fresh in the minds of many Miami residents. The timing couldn’t be any better for the 25th Miami International Film Festival taking place in seven theaters across the city, including the University of Miami’s Cosford Cinema.

The red carpet was rolled out last Thursday at the elegant Gusman Center for Performing Arts in downtown Miami.

“A festival has its personality in its venue, and that venue is Miami,” festival director Patrick de Bokay said as he addressed the audience before the opening film.

Miami’s culturally diverse reputation is an appropriate fit for the more than 100 films hailing anywhere from Israel to Argentina and covering topics as varied as

Muay Thai boxing and Christian fundamentalism. Chosen to open the festival was Under the Same Moon, a sweet Mexican film about a mother and young son separated at the U.S.-Mexico border.

“[It was] a great example of love, family values and sacrifice,” Chris Piña, a junior, said after the film.

The festival started expanding across Miami the next day, as the rest of the six theaters had their first showings. Opening Cosford Cinema’s involvement in the festival was Exodus, a daring Hong Kong film that recasts the Biblical story in modern times with the Pharaoh as a fascist prime minister and Moses as a desperate terrorist.

Freshmen Tom Skibo and John Peltz said they weren’t entirely sure about attending the screening – that is, until they found out that there were a limited amount of free tickets available for university students at the theater’s entrance. “I thought it was a Friday night well spent,” Peltz said.

The festival will run until March 9. A complete film schedule can be found at

REVIEW: Two UM students bring Miami corruption to light in feature film

In the Miami International Film Festival’s spirit of celebrating global views and diversity, it also selected a film that focused on the host city itself. UM seniors Sam Rega and Josh Miller’s documentary, about former Miami-Dade City Commissioner Arthur E. Teele, presents an engaging look at a city teeming with both high-rise beach hotels and extensive poverty.

While Teele is now mostly remembered for his infamous suicide in the lobby of The Miami Herald building in 2005, Miami Noir: The Arthur E. Teele Story skillfully illustrates just how complex his life was. For as much good as he did for the Miami-Dade community, the last years of his public life revolved around allegations of bribes, indictments on corruption charges and a supposedly vivid sex life.

Old newscasts and interviews make up most of the film, but dramatizations by Jorge Valdés-Iga, a UM graduate and freelance director, effectively recreate the most controversial moments, from Teele’s roadside argument with police officers to his final moments inside the Herald building.

The film, the production of which was previously covered in the Oct. 27, 2007, issue of The Miami Hurricane, caught the eye of festival organizers after they viewed a trailer for it on YouTube.

Rega and Miller said they are thrilled with the great reception the film is getting and how the festival has made an effort to make them a member of the film community.

In the end, Miami Noir makes no attempt to either condemn or completely understand Teele. Yet this retelling of his public life does more than enough to bring to light the lurid underbelly of a city that is almost as complicated as he was.

Rene Basulto may be contacted at