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Miami International Film Festival opens this Friday

Singer Darlene Love at last year's Miami International Film Festival. This year, the documentary in which she was featured received an Oscar
Singer Darlene Love at last year's Miami International Film Festival. This year, the documentary in which she was featured received an Oscar Charlotte Libov

Less than a week after "20 Feet from Stardom," last year's opening night movie at the Miami International Film Festival won an Oscar, this year's opening night is set to be even more star-studded, with Hollywood stars Shirley MacLaine and Christopher Plummer expected to attend the premiere of their movie "Elsa and Fred," on Friday night.

Celebrity sightings are a tradition at the 31-year-old film festival. Last year's event was attended by singer Darlene Love, who not only came to the premiere of the film in which she was featured, "20 Feet from Stardom," but also favored the audience with a performance of "Stand By Me,"one of the songs she performed in the documentary as well. This past Sunday, Love was at the Academy Awards, where the film was awarded the Oscar for Best Documentary.

Along with MacLaine and Plummer, celebrities John Turturro, Andy Garcia, Gloria and Emilio Estefan, Mike Myers and Tom Brokaw are also expected to walk the red carpet in front of the Olympia Theater at the Gusman Center for the Performing Arts, during the 10-day festival, which runs until March 16.

The festival will feature the premiere of 93 feature films and 28 short films from 38 countries. In addition to celebrities, scores of notable filmmakers are expected to attend, including Michael Radford, René Sampaio, Bernard Rose, Marlon Johnson, Emilio Estefan, Chad Tingle, Dennis Scholl, Raymond de Fellita, Juan José Campanella, Gaston Gorali, and Nacho Vigalondo.

“The programming team of Miami International Film Festival believes the selection of films showcased in the Festival this year is a reflection of our passion for film, and we hope that it will strengthen our community’s love and appreciation for the art of filmmaking,” said MIFF Executive Director Jaie Laplante.

The festival began long before Miami became the internationally known city it is today. In fact, 31 years ago, it was one of the first high-profile events that helped to elevate the city's image. The event is now considered is considered the preeminent film festival for showcasing Ibero-American cinema in the U.S., and a major launch pad for all international and documentary cinema.

Produced and presented by Miami Dade College, the festival attracts more than 60,000 audience members and more than 400 filmmakers, producers, talent and industry professionals. Films are shown in theaters throughout the area, with the beautifully restored Gusman, which features a starry sky, turrets, towers, and, on festival nights, a live organist, reserved for the major movies.

Opening night on Friday is sold-out, although "rush tickets" may be available on Friday night. Tickets are available for the rest of the festival and may be purchased online.

More info: Miami International Film Festival