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MIFF interview with festival Executive Director Jaie Laplante

Jaie Laplante with John Turturro at MIFF 31
Jaie Laplante with John Turturro at MIFF 31
Steven Lebowitz

Jaie Laplante has been the Miami International Film Festival's Executive Director since 2011. Anyone who has attended MIFF over the last four years would likely say that the man has done a bang up job running the festival. Year after year, he finds a way to outdo the previous one. MIFF 31 is already off to a great start after an amazing four days. I had a chance to talk to Jaie about how he keeps the level of excellence so high for Miami and what there is still to look forward to at this year's festival.

I have a confession to make. Oh, yeah?

After last year when you guys pulled out all the stops for MIFF XXX I thought, not that this year would be bad, but sort of a let down year. I was wrong! I think you may have already put last year to shame. Well, you know, to me, the 30th anniversary was a lot about looking back and about looking forward at the same time. So it was an synergy to combine those two energies. Once we had that celebration completed I immediately felt that we're answering a new decade, we got to create new memories. We've got to create new things that we're going to look back on ten years from now and say, "Hey, wasn't that a pinnacle moment," or "Wasn't that an amazing moment?" I want everyone to be surprised when they come to the Miami International Film Festival. I don't want them to expect what they expected in previous years. It's all got to be new. I think we're doing that this year with some very surprising films, and guests, just exciting content.

I know this may be a dumb question, but how do you get such great films? You had "Elsa & Fred" for opening night. You have John Turturro's "Fading Gigolo". "Rob the Mob" closes the festival. I saw "The Sacrament" on Saturday night, a film a little off kilter for MIFF. You have so many great films this year. Yeah! We really want the best of the best. We've been gaining in our reputation the past few years. We have more and more films submitted to us for consideration and we're really able to be in that position to choose the best of the best. That's what the people of Miami deserve. That's what we want them to get from their film festival and that's when we're programming the festival we are asking ourselves if these are the movies Miami wants to see. Are these the best of the best and the answer is found in our program this year.

How do you feel how the opening weekend has gone? I think it's gone great! Every year, for the past four years since I've been director we've tried some new things on opening night. This year was a new thing with old Hollywood glamour with Christopher Plummer and Shirley MacLaine joining us this year as well as some other stars walking our red carpet. I think that was a really special and electric opening. You can't say enough abut choosing the right opening night moment because it sets the tone for the whole festival. That went so well and the response was so phenomenal that it has carried us these first three days. All the other filmmakers here have experienced full houses and great engaged audiences. They're thrilled. That's what a festival is, a festival is a very, very happy, festive occasion and we're having a good time.

There's still a full week left to the festival. We sure do.

What are some of the things people coming to the festival expect to see and experience? There's a lot of amazing films coming up. There are a lot of amazing guests. We have "Dom Hemingway." We have "Only Lovers Left Alive." There's the MTV Tr3s music video competition. We have our spotlight on China and our closing night party. We have something going on every night.

There really is plenty more to look forward to at MIFF 31. You can click HERE to see the full schedule and click HERE to buy tickets to films and events. You will not be disappointed.

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