Miami fest to fete Besson


NEW YORK -- The fifth annual Miami International Film Festival has announced a tribute for director Luc Besson, participants in the Miami Encuentros program for emerging Latino directors, the REEL Education Seminar Series and 16 features in its World & Ibero-American Cinema documentary competition.

Besson, the French helmer of "La Femme Nikita" and "The Fifth Element," will appear at the Career Achievement Tribute and present the East Coast premiere of his tenth film, the black-and-white fable "Angel-A."

The Encuentros program, presented by Eastman Kodak and Entertainment Partners, will give filmmakers from nine Latino projects the chance to present new work to producers, agents, TV stations and distributors. The features set to be screened include Andre Ristum's Brazilian "Square Man," Carlos Moreno's Colombian "Dog Eat Dog," Gonzalo Justiniano's Chilean "Lokas" and Adrian Biniez's Argentinian "Giant." Paramount Vantage's Matt Brodlie, Warner Independent Pictures' Paul Federbush, Kodak's Anne Hubbell, Cinetic Media's Sarah Lash and WMA's Eric Rovner and Jerome Duboz are among the 22 delegates participating as filmmaker advisors.

This year's World & Ibero-American Cinema documentary feature contenders include Tali Shemesh's Holocaust survivor portrait "The Cemetery Club," Marco Williams' tale of post-Civil War discrimination, "Banished," John Fiege's immigration study "Mississippi Chicken" and Jennifer Baichwal's Toronto International Film Festival prizewinner "Manufactured Landscapes."

The winner will receive a $25,000 award sponsored by the John S. and James L. Night Foundation. Two other competitions for dramatic features, World Cinema and Ibero-American Cinema, will also award each winning film a $25,000 prize.

The 2007 World Cinema dramatic features jury includes writer/director Raoul Peck and producers Christine Vachon and Bernardo Zupnik. Sarajevo Film Festival programmer Howard Feinstein and producers Bertha Navarro and Jim Stark will judge the Ibero-American Cinema dramatic competition. American Documentary vp Cynthia Lopez, Film Forum programmer Mike Maggiore and acquisitions exec Rob Williams will judge the World & Ibero-American docu competition.

The fest's REEL Education Seminars Series will feature a hefty 26 panels. including "Agents, Packaging & Financing -- At What Stage Do I Look for Representation?" with The Collective's Shaun Redick, CAA's Roeg Sutherland, Endeavor Independent's Graham Taylor and UTA's Keya Khayatian. Other discussions include "Pitch to the Pros --  Writing Treatments That Sell" with Silverwood Films' Lynette Howell and UTA's Jon Huddle, "Documentaries --  Why Have They Become So Popular Recently?" with Submarine's Josh Braun and ThinkFilm's Daniel Katz, and "US Distribution" with Brodlie, Federbush, Focus Features' Jason Resnick and IFC Films' Arianna Bocco.

The festival, presented by Miami Dade College, runs March 2-11.