Where can you go to watch award-winning short films right here at UM for free? Look no further than Shorts Miami International Film Festival (SMIFF), which comes to the Bill Cosford Cinema from Feb. 3-5.
Its premiere year, SMIFF is a three-day festival created by UM School of Communications faculty to celebrate narrative and documentary short films. What separates it from other, more popular film festivals is its low-cost entry fee for filmmakers ($15 or $20) along with the cash prizes awarded in a real-life venue.
Over the three days, festival attendees will get to view films from the U.S. and all over the world, including Spain, France, Italy, Iran, Mexico, Brazil, Portugal, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and the United Kingdom.
Friday will focus on narrative short films, Saturday will spotlight documentaries and Sunday will conclude with an international focus on Serbian short films. Featuring short films on the isolation of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, the rush to prove a man’s innocence after a murder charge and unfilled dinner tables, viewers can experience 10 unique stories in under three hours.
On Saturday, the festival will highlight the reality of online dating in “Dating Internet Strangers” and show the journey of converted Muslim women from South Florida in “Three Latina Muslims.” SMIFF will wrap up its weekend with a deep look into Serbian film making and archived footage of a refugee camp that helps to convey Serbia’s rich history.
Awards to be announced include Best of the Festival, Best Narrative and Best Documentary, which each carry a cash value of $500.
Wondering who decides these winners? A jury of international industry professionals will award these cash prizes to the most engaging films on Sunday Night. Among the jury and originators of the festival is Antonio Mora, Associate Professor at the UM School of Communication and the Frances L. Wolfson Chair in Communication.
The remainder of the jury include a mix of journalists and celebrities like Nigerian-born actress Sope Aluko (“Black Panther”), American actor Néstor Carbonell (“Bates Motel”) and movie director David Frankel (“The Devil Wears Prada”).
Rounding out the jury of eight are independent producer/showrunner Zorana Popović, former ABC News Senior Vice President Phyllis McGrady, current ABC News “Nightline” anchor Byron Pitts and “60 Minutes” producer Ira Rosen, whose report on the opioid epidemic won more awards than any segment in the show’s 52-year history.
Those interested in attending can visit shortsmiami.com to reserve a free ticket as well as preview a full list and synopsis of each film showing.