Miami Film Festival closing night: Awards, celebrities and what’s next (includes video story)

This past Saturday, the Miami Film Festival ended on an exciting night of $100,000 in cash awards for local and international filmmakers, and the attendance of special honorees such as actors Tony Goldwyn, Sheryl Lee Ralph and Alison Brie.

The event ending the nine-day festival, which included 180 movies from 31 countries, was held at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts. The two major winners showcased the gentrification in Little Haiti and Cuban punk culture in the 1990s. 

Made In MIA Award winner Monica Sorelle, director and co-writer of “Mountains” (2023). (Photo by Grecia pacheco/Caplin News).

The movie “Mountains” by Monica Sorelle received the $25,000 that comes with the Made In MIA Feature Film award. The movie sheds light on Florida’s housing crisis and the gentrification of Little Haiti. 

 “It was really important for me to tell this story, not only on what’s going to regular Miamians but as a Haitian-American, I wanted to shed light on Little Haiti specifically,” she said. “I wanted Haitian people to feel empowered when they watch this film and that they have a voice.”

“Los Frikis”  world premiere at the Miami Film festival on April 6, at the Arsht Center. (Photo by Grecia pacheco/Caplin News).

After a successful world premiere on April 6 and filling the Arsht Center with more than 1,300 people,“Los Frikis,” an emotional film based on true events depicting Cuban Punk culture during the 90’s, won the $20,000 cash prize for the international Marimbas Award. It  was directed by Tyler Nilson and Michael Schwartz and was one of the festival’s highlights. 

Other winners included “In The Summers,” directed by Alessandra Lacorazza, for the Jordan Ressler First Feature Award, which comes with with a $10,000 cash prize, and “Konpa,” directed by Al’Ikens Plancher, which took  the Made In MIA Short Film Award with its $10,000 cash prize. 

Throughout the afternoon and evening, the three honorees gave moving speeches expressing their gratitude towards the festival. 

Tony Goldwyn during his acceptance speech at the Arsht Center Knight Concert Hall. (Photo by Grecia Pacheco/Caplin news).

Goldwyn, actor and director of the closing film Ezra, received the Art of the Light award, which is presented to cinematic artists whose “exemplary work continues the evolution of motion pictures.”

“It’s probably the most personal film I’ve been involved with, my best friend of 40 years wrote it and we made it together,” he said. “To be acknowledged anywhere is wonderful, but to be in association with this film is really special.”

Alison Brie during the closing night red carpet at the South Regal Cinema. (Photo by Grecia Pacheco/Caplin News)

Earlier that day, after the screening of her new show on Peacock, “Apples Never Fall,” Brie received the Art of the Light award. She shared some insights about her character while showing her excitement of receiving this special award in the city of Miami. 

“It’s such an honor, I was so surprised,” she said. “ To have my work appreciated in any way is very meaningful to me.”

The festival also honored Emmy award-winning actress Sheryl Lee Ralph with the Precious Gem award, which goes to one-of-a-kind talents with everlasting contributions to cinema. 

Other celebrities received similar recognition throughout the festival. Tom Hiddleston, best known for the Marvel character Loki, received the Variety Virtuoso Award celebrating the actor’s extensive career. Actress Molly Ringwald also received the Variety Creative Vanguard award. 

Fresh off receiving his award, Tom Hiddleston engages in a lively interview, reflecting on his humble beginnings in the film industry (photo by Grecia Pacheco/Caplin news)

Executive Director James Woolley during the award ceremony at the Arsht Center. (Photo by Jose Carlos Rodriguez/Caplin News)

Leading the festival as executive director for the first time this year, James Woolley took the stage during the award ceremony thanking Miami Dade College, the audience and volunteers for their support. Woolley said next year’s festival will have more movies, more venues and more celebrities. 

“I can’t wait to do it again next year, bigger and better, that’s how I operate,” he said. 

At the closing night party, festival attendees reveled in a night of culinary delights in the Miami Design District. (Photo by Jose Carlos Rodriguez/ Caplin News) 

The evening culminated in a lively Closing Party at Jungle Plaza in the Design District, where filmmakers, actors, festival members, cinephiles, and the media came together to celebrate the conclusion of Miami’s most important film week.

Grecia Pacheco and Jose Carlos Rodriguez worked on the print story. Virginia Tijerino worked on the video story.

Grecia Pacheco is a senior majoring in digital journalism. Appassionate with the truth and the news reporting, her career pathway is orientated to politics and international relations based on her goal to keep people informed about the importance of democracy and its impact on modern society.

Jose Carlos Rodriguez is a junior majoring in Digital Communication and Media. After graduation, he plans to pursue a career as a reporter in the entertainment industry.

Virginia Tijerino is a Latina Junior majoring in Communications with a specific focus on journalism, accompanied by a minor in education. As a passionate bilingual student, she finds joy in writing and reporting stories on social events and about her community. She holds a strong passion for writing and aspires to pursue a career as a reporter.