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Miami Film Festival seeks a new director - again

Updated 4:40 p.m. Thursday

For the fifth time in 10 years, the Miami International Film Festival is seeking a new director.

Tiziana Finzi, who had served as artistic director since 2009, will not return for a third year. Miami Dade College, which presents the festival, declined to renew her contract, which expires June 30.

Finzi, who had recently attended the Tribeca and Cannes festivals, said she learned of the decision Wednesday via a telephone call from George Andrews, MDC's Chief of Staff.

"I don't understand what happened," Finzi said from Italy. "He just said 'I would like to tell you that your contract is not being renewed, good luck and ciao.' I don't know if something within the festival is changing, but I don't think it was personal, because everyone at the college was very nice to me."

Finzi said she offered to renegotiate the terms of her contract when she returns to Miami on June 22. But she said Andrews told her "there was nothing to talk about." MDC administrators declined to comment.

Finzi's programming had veered toward the daring and experimental, although her choices also included such crowd-pleasers as The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and the Oscar-winning The Secret in Their Eyes.

Tiziana Finzi (above, right) with director Abel Ferrara at the Gusman during the 2009 festival. 

In March, she told The Miami Herald that "a festival director needs at least three years in order to really connect with and educate their audience. This is my second, and hopefully I will get a third."

Finzi's departure is one of several staffing changes. Vivian Donnell Rodriguez, MDC's director of cultural affairs, who had managed the festival's administrative operations for the last three years, retired in May. Valeria Sorrentino, assistant director for programming and events, has accepted a position with the Rio International Film Festival.

This year's festival operated under a $1.6 million budget, screened 115 feature-length and short films and drew 65,000 admissions. College representatives issued a statement promising the festival would return as scheduled next year and that staff changes will not "affect the operations nor the status of the festival in any way ... This transition also provides the college an opportunity to assess the operations and implementation of the festival to ensure the beloved cultural event is the very best it can be."


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Robbie Rosenberg

I miss Nat Chediak. There, I said it.


This is disturbing news. Who in his/her right mind with any cred in the festival circuit is going to entertain an offer from the MIFF? It seems rather apparent that the administrative arm of the enterprise is rather haphazard about about committing to a vision for the event. Finzi struck me as the real deal and every screening I attended this year was packed.

leon ichaso

good riddance...bring NAT back !!

Bea Corradi

let's rediscover the charm of the original Miami International Film Festival with it's original creator and director

Fausto Sanchez

Building a strong brand takes years of hard work and a constant effort, achieved with people working in tandem with a common goal. With a revolving door policy, the MIFF would not have established itself as it did and will lose or weaken what was achieved by its founding team. Although not as festive to some, the idea of going back to its basic offering and Nat Chediak will stabilize the MIFF and propel its growth and stature. They need to move quickly.

Tony Dayoub

I wonder if Chediak would want to return to deal with what obviously would be a bureaucratic nightmare for him.

Jorge Ulla

When Nat Chediak "fled" the MFF many who knew the inside story descended on the then-indispensable head of Florida International University. In a nutshell, our disenchanted response was nothing more than a fruitless attempt to repair what amounted to a cultural crime. It was also a collective, poetic cry of solidarity and show of disgust at the social butterflies that fancied themselves rescuers of the event from its destiny of "fiscal doom." But you don't fix what ain't broken. Natalio's feast of a fest was hip. It was fluid. It had tone.

The came Miami Dade College, I guess, to rescue the rescuers. Since then -- and with Nat gone with his music a otra parte -- festival directors have been hired and fired in a comedic series of Lubitsch-like proportions.

To this day, no one has come close to matching Chediak's legacy; no one has demonstrating his eye for a flick , no one has been able to make the festival's happenings fly out of the social pages of Miami's print media.

While the owners and patrons of the MFF may celebrate another year of their contentment, the once treasured even keeps lacking aesthetic focus and remains submerged in the muddy waters of municipalism.

Eduardo Padron must have already considered bringing back; I wonder why he has refrained. He is a smart man whose contributions to Miami are nothing less than impressive: a solid college, several art galleries, a book fair, to name just a few. Nat's post-festival record isn't too shabby either.

Since I consider both Edward and Nat my personal friends, I feel tempted to throw this idea their way: sit down for some cafe. Maybe the encounter will bring back the magic. For the love of film.

- J. Ulla

marilyn guzman

this was Nat Chediak's baby and it was "FOR THE LOVE OF FILM". a wonderful event in one beautiful venue. since then it's "FOR THE LOVE OF MONEY". spread all over town, it has lost it's lustre. like so many things in this town, history.

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