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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Miami International Film Festival, Ages Gracefully

With Oscar season approaching the cinematic fandom is at a roar and so Miami jumps on the wagon by providing their own homage to the film industry. Three decades later and the week-long multicultural event stands strong. The Miami International Film Festival (MIFF) blows its thirty birthday candles full of major foreign, independent and multi award winning films.
Alejandro Azoy, Miami Dade College alumnus and cinema enthusiast says, “I’m very excited. I enjoy films tremendously and it’s a great opportunity to see films from all over the world.”
The event kicks off on March 1st, 2013 providing the general public with over 140 films and events to enjoy. Tickets are on sale on the MIFF website with general admission fees to each film at $13.
The event does provide discounts for seniors, students and members of the film industry. But film tickets sell fast, it’s a week away and Kenyan film Nairobi Half Life is already sold out.
A proud sponsor and administrator of the MIFF is Miami Dade College which coordinates events, volunteering, and job opportunities within the festival. M-DC students can also benefit by participating in the festival either by volunteering or getting complimentary tickets provided by the college.
Anna Lucia Rodriguez, Volunteer Coordinator for the MIFF says there have been “over 400 volunteer applications” received. Most commonly heard are a shortage of volunteers for such events, but the MIFF is a different story.
“We can’t give everyone the hours they wish to volunteer for,” says Rodriguez. “If they ask for 20 hours we’ll give them 10, we want to keep our volunteers happy and be able to give them the opportunity to participate.”
“It’s my first year coordinating,” says Rodriguez and she has her work cut out; having to prepare Volunteer orientations and assemble tasks for such a large public throughout 12 theaters and over 100 events.
Karisha Medina, Miami Dade College student and returning volunteer says that volunteering provides “many benefits; you can add up to your 100 service learning hours for your presidential award. You get free movie vouchers, sometimes get to enjoy the film and meet many wonderful people.”
Though the event is of a large scale bringing together thousands of members, within and outside of the community, some still are unaware of the happenings of this event.
But MIFF has been trying to inform the public of the festival by doing such things as putting bus stop posters and hanging banners, the most commonly seen, at Flagler St. by the Olympia Theater. M-DC -Wolfson Campus’ Service Learning Center has also been aiding the film festival in advertising.
 “I work with the ICED (Institute for Civic Engagement and Democracy) department, which is the department that works with service learning,” says Medina. “We want students to become more involved with the community and cultural events…we did bookmarks, advertising the film festival, we also tell all the students coming in the office about it.”
As the years pass the festival grows in size and public; highlighting the worldwide film industry. The festival has previously seen major film industry personnel including Michael Caine, Antonio Banderas, Kate Hudson, Sylvester Stallone, Demi Moore, Ricardo Darin and many more. So there is some chance to run into some big stars that participate in this communal event as well.
A nice touch that the festival is adapting is shining a spotlight at small and or independent film venues, such as MDC’s Tower Theater or Wynwood’s O Cinema.
“I’m all for independent theaters hosting these events,” says Azoy. “They’re little gems, little hole in the walls. They get neglected and this exposes them.”
Whether you watch the films in a venue of thirty or a hundred people, the MIFF is an event to experience, for locals, tourists and people of all ages.
 “I believe the reason why MDC sponsors it’s because of the diversity within the college, having students from all over the place,” Azoy says.
“We have different cultures and people, it brings them together one way or another,” adds Medina “you can also learn many things, you become a bit more educated, even though they’re just movies you can learn about other cultures.”
The MIFF will be running for a week March 1st through the 10th and all further information including all movies and event schedules, previous year’s highlights and many more can be found at their website, by clicking here.

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