Colombia's 'Birds of Passage' Tops Miami Film Fest Awards

Courtesy of Sundance Film Festival
'Birds of Passage'

Directed by Cristina Gallego and Ciro Guerra, Colombia's latest bid for the foreign language film Oscar took home the Grand Jury prize, while Billy Corben's 'Screwball' won the festival’s Audience Award.

Birds of Passage, Colombia's latest Oscar bid, has topped the 36th edition of the Miami Film Festival.

The stunning epic on the origins of the Colombian narcotics trade, directed by Cristina Gallego and Ciro Guerra, won the $40,000 Knight Marimbas Award, which will be split between Colombia's Ciudad Lunar Productions and the film's U.S. distributor The Orchard, which is set to release the film theatrically in select markets, including in Miami, beginning Friday.

Sponsored by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the prize is given to the film "that best exemplifies richness and resonance for cinema’s future, named for the marimba, a variation of the xylophone that produces a deeper, richer and more resonant tone," according to the festival. The award was presented by Grand Jury members Francesa Silvestri (The Florida Project), René Sampaio (Brazilian Western) and Tabaré Blanchard (Veneno).

The fest’s Audience Award for best feature film went to Toronto International Film Festival entry Screwball, produced by Miami-based Rakontur and directed by Billy Corben. A documentary that traces the roots of the recent high-profile Major League Baseball doping scandal to bizarre origins in shady south Florida tanning salons, Screwball is set for a major release from New York-based Greenwich Entertainment and will open March 29 in Miami theaters.

With more than 160 features and short films from more than 40 countries, the event unveiled a new program called "Knight Heroes," focused on the emerging generation of South Florida filmmakers, and honored guests Barry Jenkins (Moonlight, If Beale Street Could Talk), Boots Riley (Sorry to Bother You) and Aaron Stewart-Ahn, co-writer of the acclaimed breakout hit Mandy.

Festival guests also included actress Patricia Clarkson, who sat down for a Q&A moderated by The Hollywood Reporter's Tatiana Siegel, during which she discussed her experiences working on Netflix's House of Cards.

The 36th edition of Miami Dade College’s Miami Film Festival, which began March 1, concluded Sunday.

Other festival award winners included:

Knight Made in MIA Award
Best Feature: Pahokee (Ivette Lucas and Patrick Bresnan)
Best Short: Liberty (Faren Humes) / Six Degrees of Immigration (Jayme Gershe)

HBO Ibero-American Feature Film Award 
Fireflies (Bani Khoshnoudi) 

Jordan Ressler First Feature Award
Socrates (Alexandre Moratto)

Zeno Mountain Award
My Daughter Yoshiko (Brian Blum).

Rene Rodriguez Critics Award 
The Nightingale (Jennifer Kent)

IMDbPro Short Film Award 
The Orphan (Carolina Markowicz)

Audience Award for Best Short
The Rafter (Jose Navas)

Best Score
Mowg for Lee Chang- dong’s Burning,

Best Trailer
Joe Hackman for Knife+Heart

Honorable mentions for additional outstanding trailers
The Silence of Others (documentary)
Zenu (shorts).

Best Poster Design
Edel Rodriguez for Fragile

HBO Ibero-American Short Film Award
Brian Robau for This is Your Cuba

Lynn and Louis Wolfson II Family Foundation CinemaSlam Competition 2019 
Happy to Be Nappy (Xiao Che)

Cinemaslam Champion Award
Chess (Alejandro Gonzalez Valdes)