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Oscar winners and films from around the world occupy Miami Int'l Film Festival

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Hollywood comes to the Magic City this weekend as the 31st edition of the Miami International Film Festival (MIFF) commence tomorrow night at the Olympia Theater with the festival’s opening film, “Elsa & Fred,” a English-language remake of the 2005 Spanish-Argentine film starring Oscar-winners Shirley MacLaine and Christopher Plummer that will make its North American debut at the festival. MacLaine and Plummer will be walking the red carpet Friday night, along with director Michael Radford (“Flawless,” “Il Postino”) and Oscar-winning director Jonathan Demme (“Silence of the Lambs”).

The festival, which runs from March 7 – 16, features a fantastic lineup of nearly 100 films from around the globe that you can’t see at your local movieplex. This year’s slate of films includes seven feature films making their world premiere and 12 movies that will make their North American debut at MIFF.

“Elsa & Fred” is about an effervescent retiree (MacLaine) who meets a straight-laced widower (Plummer) and soon fall in lover with each other. The festival’s closing night film is “Rob the Mob,” a dark comedic caper featuring an all-star ensemble that includes Andy Garcia, Michael Pitt, Ray Romano, Burt Young and Griffin Dunne. The movie is about a young couple that steals from rich mobsters, knowing that they wouldn’t dare call the cops. This is Garcia’s and director Raymond De Felitta’s second collaboration after working together on “City Island.”

The films appearing in the festival packs a lot of star power this with the latest films from Jude Law (“Dom Hemmingway”), Joaquin Phoenix (“The Immigrant”), Clive Owen (“Words and Pictures”) and Tilda Swinton (“Only Lovers Left Alive”) gracing the silver screen across South Florida for the next two weeks.

Special event screenings will also be held during MIFF with the festival honoring John Turturro being honored as this year’s recipient of the Career Achievement Award, along with showcasing his latest fourth film as a director, “Fading Gigolo.” Actor/comedian John Leguizamo will be hosting a screening of the thriller “Open Windows,” starring Elijah Wood and Sasha Grey, at the Olympia Theater on March 16.

Other films that is featured in this year’s lineup includes: “The Congress,” the latest from director Ari Folman (“Waltz with Bashir”) about an out-of-work actress who sells him image to a movie studio that mixes live-action with animation; “The Double” starring Oscar-nominee Jesse Eisenberg as a man who is driven insane by the appearance of his doppelgänger; director Ti West’s (“The House of the Dead”) latest, “The Sacrament,” a found-footage film about two journalists who document the search for their friend’s missing sister and the latest film from documentarian Joe Berlinger (“Paradise Lost: Purgatory”), “Whitey: United State of America v. James J. Bulger,” that covers the trial of Boston’s most infamous gangster and include interviews with Bulger’s henchmen, the defense lawyers, families of victims and the prosecutors.

MIFF introduced a new program this year, which Lee Brian Schranger’s Culinary Cinema. Presented by Plymouth Gin, each of the film in the program has been with a restaurant that will match the experiences and flavor of the storyline. The chefs from each restaurant have created menus inspired by their corresponding film.

Tickets for the festival is now available to the general public. For schedule and ticket information, visit miamifilmfestival.com.

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