MIAMI - Miami Film Festival returns this weekend for its 40th anniversary for a 10-day run with over 140 features, documentaries, and short films of all genres, from more than 30 countries worldwide.
Festival goers will see works of the world's best emerging and established filmmakers, and as always, it's a major launchpad for many local filmmakers.
"The film festival means so much to so many people. I think that film festival overall has been such an incredible way to build community both in the film world and in the Miami arts-loving community at large," said Lauren Cohen, Director of Programming for the festival.
In fact, at last year's festival, $150,000 was awarded through competitions by local filmmakers. Many of those that won have used money by presenting new films this year.
There's also a KNIGHT Made in MIA Competition. "Mango City" is one of the contenders in that category.
"It's hard to make money as a filmmaker and it's hard to fund your future projects and to have those opportunities, Cohen said, "So to be in competition and have the opportunity to have these types of cash prices is huge."
The festival opens Friday night with "Somewhere in Queens," written directed and starring comedian and actor Ray Romano, widely known for his 9 years on CBS's hit comedy "Everbody Loves Raymond."
He'll be here in person.
"Your name is your name. Everybody loves Raymond. You hear Ray Romano is in a movie and everyone's like, oh, I love him," said CBS4's Lisa Petrillo to Romano during a recent interview.
"I could bring a woman right now in this room who might debate that," said Romano.
"Somewhere in Queens," is about an Italian-American family living the blue-collar life in Queens surrounded by their overbearing relatives, when their painfully shy son finds success on his high school basketball team and a chance at life beyond what's tradition.
Romano said it always comes down to family.
"Ultimately, everyone is going to identify with it no matter where they're from no matter what culture because we all have this common bond and that's this family dynamic, the love and angst and whatever, and everything that goes into being a family," he said.
Most of the films will be screened at Silverspot Cinema in downtown Miami, Coral Gables Arts Cinema and University of Miami's Cosford Cinema.
The Miami Film Festival is on March 3rd through March 12th.
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