Miami International Film Festival’s Red Carpet sizzled on Opening Night and Festivities continued at Freedom Tower By Betty Alvarez

28th Annual Miami International Film Festival (MIFF) produced and presented by Miami Dade College (MDC) launched a new chapter with a new executive director. the official lineup of the Miami International Film Festival (MIFF) will be repleting with Red Carpet Gusman Galas, Premieres, Competition Categories and Awards, REEL Education Seminars and other special presentations that make up the Festival’s showcase of more than 100 films from 40 countries during the 10-day event, which runs to March 13, 2011.

The Festival launched on March 4 with the first Opening Night animated feature in its 28-year history: Chico & Rita by Oscar- and Goya Award-winning Spanish director Fernando Trueba and Barcelona designer Javier Mariscal. Already a sensation in theaters across Europe, Chico & Rita is the love story of Chico, a penniless piano player, and Rita, a sultry singer, who meet by chance one night in 1948 at Havana’s world-famous Tropicana Club. From there, the star-crossed lovers begin a tumultuous affair that spans decades and takes them to the glamorous stages of New York City, Paris, Hollywood and Las Vegas. Their complex tale of heartache and longing, much like a traditional bolero, unfolds to a musical soundtrack of spirited re-recordings of favorites by jazz legends Nat King Cole, Dizzy Gillespie, Israel ―Cachao‖ López, Thelonious Monk, Charlie Parker, Chano Pozo and Tito Puente, among others. The red carpet arrivals was lined up with the producers and stars of the movie. At the end of arrivals a luxurious top of the line Lexus automobile was parked at the top of the Red Carpet as Lexus is one of the major sponsors of the film festival.

Trueba previously directed Belle époque, starring Penelope Cruz and Jorge Sanz, which won the 1994 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. His Latin Jazz documentary, Calle 54, won MIFF’s Audience Award in 2001. He also previously opened the 14th edition of MIFF, in 2004, with Belle époque. The critically acclaimed film marks Trueba’s return to the Festival, after a 10-year absence.

Following the film, an opening night gala party, held at Miami Dade College’s historic and beautiful Freedom Tower featured a tribute to Cuban music. Guests enjoyed light bites by La Estancia Argentina, Hard Rock Cafe, and other notable area restaurants. Cocktails were sponsored by Rums of Puerto Rico and Coffee drinks by Illy.

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Photographs by Betty Alvarez copyright 2011