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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Celebrating its 35th year as one of the premiere film festivals in the world, The Miami Film Festival is back this year with more films than ever before, according to its executive director Jaie Laplante.

“One hundred and forty-eight films. I love films, it’s hard for me to turn anyone down. We have 148 films from 50 different countries including three countries we’ve never had in all of our 35 years before,” said Laplante.

Organizers give it their all to bring the best in the world of cinema to Miami, from small indie films to the big guns.

“We have small movies that you’ll never see on Netflix. This is your own chance to see the big glitzy premieres like our opening night film, Charlize Theron in Tully directed by Jason Reitman so that’s incredibly exciting,” Laplante explained.

“This is a chance for people to see it first. Jason Reitman will be there as well as Ron Livingston, one of the actors from the film, so that’s the glitz and glamour and the chance to see it is really magical,” he added.

This year there is a special contest called Knight Made In Mia competition, sponsored by the James L. Knight Foundation. It’s open to any film short or feature, documentary, or narrative that was shot anywhere in South Florida.

“I was inspired by Moonlight, last year’s Best Picture at the Oscars. I was thinking we wanted to continue with this momentum, with great pride in local films. While we can’t give an Oscar, we can give $10 thousand, that’s how we started,” said Laplante.

“We have 11 films competing for the inaugural award of $10 thousand and they’re all great,” he added.

The films will be screened at various locations in Miami Beach, Downtown Miami, Coral Gables, and more. It’s your chance to see never before seen films and meet many of the actors who made them.

“You only have 10 days, go every day I say,” said Laplante with a laugh.

The Miami Film Festival kicks off Friday and runs through March 18th, with parties every night. For more info: www.miamifilmfestival.com.

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