Recommendations for Miami Film Festival

Winford Hunter

The 40th edition of the Miami Film Festival is stacked — and perhaps a bit overwhelming.

The festival’s lineup has over 140 feature-length movies, documentaries and short films of all genres from over 30 countries to choose from. If you don’t know where to start, the festival’s director of programming, Lauren Cohen, has a few ideas.

We asked Cohen for her recommendations for the best screenings to laugh, learn and bring a date. Here’s what she picked.

You want to belly laugh: ‘Moving On’

Moving On .jpg
Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin star in ‘Moving On.’ Glen Wilson Courtesy of Miami Film Festival

Starring Academy Award winner Jane Fonda and Academy Award nominee Lily Tomlin, this comedy follows two estranged pals who reunite to seek revenge on the petulant widower (Malcolm McDowell) of their recently deceased best friend. Along the way, Fonda reunites with her great love (Richard Roundtree) as each woman must make peace with her past and learn to treasure the value of a good friend.

3 p.m. Sunday at Silverspot Cinema 13, 300 SE Third St. #100, Miami; $12-$13

You want to learn something new about Miami: ‘The Curse of Joe Robbie’

A still from ‘The Curse of Joe Robbie.’ Courtesy of Miami Film Festival

This film explores the demise of one of the most iconic franchises in professional football. The story begins with visionary businessman Joe Robbie, the founder of the Miami Dolphins who revolutionized stadium deals in the mid-1980s. After turning the Dolphins into a legendary dynasty, Robbie set out to construct the first privately funded, state-of-the-art venue in professional sports. As construction began on his brainchild, Joe Robbie Stadium, a state-mandated excavation revealed that the land was once an Indian burial site belonging to the Seminole tribe.

3:30 p.m. March 12 at Silverspot Cinema 16, 300 SE Third St. #100, Miami; $12-$13

You want to bring your whole family: ‘Somewhere in Queens’

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Comedian Ray Romano, left, makes his directorial debut with ‘Somewhere in Queens.’ Mary Cybulski Courtesy of Miami Film Festival

Leo Russo (Ray Romano) lives a simple life in Queens, New York, with his wife, Angela, their shy but talented son, “Sticks”, and Leo’s close-knit network of Italian-American relatives and neighborhood friends. Happy enough working at the family construction business alongside his father (Tony Lo Bianco) and younger brother (Sebastian Maniscalco), Leo lives each week for Sticks’ high-school basketball games, never missing a chance to cheer on his only child as he rules the court as a star athlete. When the high-school senior gets a surprising and life-changing opportunity to play basketball in college, Leo jumps at the chance to provide a plan for his future, away from the family construction business. But when sudden heartbreak threatens to derail Sticks, Leo goes to unexpected lengths to keep his son on this new path.

7 p.m. March 3 at Silverspot Cinema 12, 300 SE Third St. #100, Miami; $12-$13

You love music: ‘Carmen’

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A still from the film ‘Carmen.’ Ben King Courtesy of Miami Film Festival

Carmen follows a young and fiercely independent woman who is forced to flee her home in the Mexican desert following the brutal murder of her mother. Carmen survives a terrifying and dangerous illegal border crossing into the U.S., only to be confronted by a lawless volunteer border guard, who cold-bloodedly murders two other immigrants in her group. When the border guard and his patrol partner, Aidan — a Marine with PTSD — become embroiled in a deadly standoff, Carmen and Aidan are forced to escape together. They make their way north toward Los Angeles in search of Carmen’s mother’s best friend, the mercurial Masilda and owner of La Sombra nightclub — a sanctuary of music and dance. Carmen and Aidan find both solace and their unwavering love for one another in the safety of Masilda’s magical refuge, but time is running out as the police hunt closes in.

7:15 p.m. March 9 at Silverspot Cinema 13, 300 SE Third St. #100, Miami; $12-$13

You’re going on a date: ‘What’s Love Got to Do With It?’

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A still from ‘What’s Love Got to Do With It.’ Robert Viglasky Courtesy of Miami Film Festival

How do you find lasting love in today’s world? For documentary-maker and dating app addict Zoe (Lily James), swiping right has only delivered an endless stream of Mr. Wrongs, to the dismay of her eccentric mother, Cath (Emma Thompson). For Zoe’s childhood friend and neighbor Kaz (Shazad Torres), the answer is to follow his parents’ example and opt for an arranged (or “assisted”) marriage to a bright and beautiful bride from Pakistan. As Zoe films his hopeful journey from London to Lahore to marry a stranger, chosen by his parents, she begins to wonder if she might have something to learn from a profoundly different approach to finding love.

3 p.m. March 4 @ Silverspot Cinema 13

8:15 pm. March 9 at Silverspot Cinema 16

300 SE Third St. #100, Miami, $12-$13

This story was produced with financial support from The Pérez Family Foundation, in partnership with Journalism Funding Partners, as part of an independent journalism fellowship program. The Miami Herald maintains full editorial control of this work.

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