MIAMI (CBS4)- Movie lovers are reveling at the return of The Miami International Film Festival. The festival, which is celebrating its 28th edition, returns Friday and ends on March 13th.

The Miami International Film Festival (MIFF) is a world-class platform for film and filmmakers promoting Miami as an educational and international film destination. The festival presents the best of emerging and established film to the local and international community within an educational framework.

The annual event, which is produced and presented by Miami Dade College, attracts more than 70,000 film enthusiasts and 400 filmmakers, stars and industry professionals. Tickets for the general public went on sale on February 11.

During the past five years, the festival has screened films from 60 countries and hosted 300 East Coast, U.S. and world premieres. Through Encuentros, the festivals mentorship and film development program for filmmakers and projects from Spain, Portugal and Latin America, MIFF has become a primary gateway for the discovery of Ibero-American talent in the entertainment world.

In addition, the festivals REEL Education Seminar Series consistently attracts top executives from Warner Bros., Sony Pictures Classics, IFC Films, Fox Searchlight, DreamWorks Animation, HBO Films/HBO Latino and William Morris Endeavor, among many others.

50 Cent’s latest movie role, ‘Things Fall Apart,’ will premiere Saturday. The artist and actor is set to make an appearance.

Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson underwent an astonishing physical transformation as Deon Barnes, a promising Michigan football running back who dreams of one day getting drafted by the Miami Dolphins. A well-liked young man whose winning disposition makes him a hit with just about everybody (especially the girls), Deon has a line on a Heisman Trophy until he one day collapses in the locker room following a big win. The diagnosis, delivered by his doctor (Ray Liotta), is cancer, and Deon’s blessed life comes crashing down around him as he undergoes chemotherapy, losing his hair and over 60 lbs of muscle, his hair falling out, leaving him an emaciated shadow of his former self. Based on the true story of a close friend, 50 Cent also co-wrote and co-produced this moving film, and provides many of the bracing original songs that make up its soundtrack.

After a ten-year absence, Oscar and Goya Award-winning Spanish director Fernando Trueba returns to the Miami International Film Festival on Friday to deliver the first Opening Night animated feature in Festival history: Chico & Rita.

The film premieres at 7 p.m. at the historic Gusman Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Miami. It will be the only screening during the Festival and Trueba is scheduled to attend the premiere.

Already a sensation in theaters across Europe, Chico & Rita is the love story of Chico, a penniless piano player, and Rita, a sultry singer, who meet by chance one night in 1948 at Havanas world-famous Tropicana Club. From there, the star-crossed lovers begin a tumultuous affair that spans decades and takes them to the glamorous stages of New York City, Paris, Hollywood and Las Vegas.

Three years in the making, Chico & Rita is the result of the collaborative talents of Trueba; famed Barcelona illustrator and designer Javier Mariscal (the set designer of Truebas Calle 54, who is famous for creating the logo of Cobi, the Cubist-style Catalan sheepdog that became the official mascot of the 1992 Barcelona Olympics); and Mariscals brother, animation artist Tono Errando, who supervised design teams in studios on three different continents.

With so much of the film set in the tropical paradise of Cuba in 1948, it has a special resonance for Miamians.

Want to party during the festival? The Coto de Rioja Paella Parade, taking place from 8:30-11 p.m. Wednesday at the Miami Beach Botanical Garden after a screening of Spanish screenwriter/director Fernando Leon de Aranoa’s Amador. Enjoy food and drink as 10 local restaurants — including Casa Juancho, Xixon, Garcia’s, Rincon Asturiano, El Carajo, Andalus and Por Fin — compete in a paella-making contest. Tickets are $55 with the film screening or $45 for the paella parade only. Ten percent of proceeds from ticket sales will go toward supporting local hospitality studies programs and Action Against Hunger, a global organization committed to ending hunger world-wide, according to CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald.

For more information on the festival, tickets to Opening Night and all other Festival screenings and special events, visit or call 305-405-MIFF (6433).


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