Support Local: Miami Film Festival
March 6, 2017
The surge in artistic filmmaking coming out of South Florida over the past few years is due in part to the efforts of the Miami Film Festival fostering an age of community and cinema. Since its inception on February 3, 1984, the Festival has not only challenged filmmakers to unleash their creative prowess to produce thought-provoking and cutting-edge work, but has made it accessible to a community that craves diverse art.
Through the course of its evolution, the Festival has expanded its screenings to over 10 venues, introduced a second annual festival called GEMS, awarded over “one million in cash awards to established and emerging filmmakers,” and has showcased the works of Pedro Almodóvar, Spike Lee, and Patricia Riggen, cementing the Miami Film Festival as South Florida’s cultural beacon of cinema.
I interviewed Rachel Bleemer, the Associate Director of Brand, about the Festival as it celebrates its 34th edition.
What do you do and why?
Every role at the Festival revolves around creating an unforgettable experience for film lovers. In my capacity as Brand Director, that means taking into account all of the aesthetic and experiential details that can combine to leave an inviting and lasting impression on our guests. I love being able to put such a personal touch on a 10-day event spread all over the Magic City.
How did you first get involved with Miami Film Festival?
Started as an intern, now I’m here.
What have been some of your favorite screenings?
I hardly get to sit through an actual film, but [in] 2013 Festival when we had an Anniversary screening of Miami Rhapsody with Sarah Jessica Parker, David Frankel, Jeremy Piven and Carl Gugino. Cliché sounding but Sarah Jessica Parker is the coolest human. [Also] TI West’s, The Sacrament because I’m a horror junkie, and Iris Apfel’s documentary by the late Albert Maysles.
How has MF Festival changed, if at all, since it’s creation back in 1984?
What hasn’t? We’ve changed everything from our logos to our name, not to mention expanded from one screening venue to five.
The Miami Film Festival does more than just the annual festival, like Gems. Can you talk briefly about the other events you guys host?
We’re a year-round organization with a love to engage audiences with cinema. We have our 10 days of screenings and parties in March, but we also host monthly member screenings, and a mini-festival in October called GEMS. Of course, one of our favorite pet projects is our free screening series in A+E District, Movies Under the Stars.
When considering how the arts are diminishing in public schools, how would you describe MF Festival’s role in the community?
If we’ve learned anything over the course of our 34 seasons, it’s that the arts are not only a worthy investment but a toolkit for resistance. We are lucky enough to be a part of an educational institution as committed to arts, culture, and diversity as Miami Dade College.
What has been the most rewarding part of your job?
After almost a decade of working for the Festival, I can’t help but grin at a film captivating a packed house at the Olympia Theater. It’s also pretty great to see perfect strangers become friends and collaborators over a frosé at The Standard.
What are you most looking forward to at the next edition of MF Festival in March?
Seeing the hard work of our team come to life, watching filmmakers inspire audiences and the screening of Hot Girls Wanted with Rashida Jones.
What would you suggest to someone who is curious about learning more about MF Festival?
Don’t be intimidated, pick a few films and challenge yourself to see and experience something outside your realm. Let the film take you somewhere else, escape. And if you need recommendations, tweet me @racheblbleemer.
Why is it important to support local businesses?
Miami neighborhoods are so wildly different from one another, and it’s all too easy to get stuck in one version of Miami. Local businesses capture the best our city has to offer, and the Support Local initiative beautifully brings all of our city’s unique movers, shakers and makers together.
Learn more about Miami Film Festival here.
This is a piece in our series spotlighting small businesses part of our Support Local initiative.