The program of shorts entitled “Family Commissions” will conclude with a screening of current projects at the Tower Theater Miami in the summer of 2022

MIAMI (February 8, 2022) – Miami Dade College (MDC) Miami Film Festival and Oolite artsa local nonprofit that supports visual and film artists, has partnered with a forward-looking program called “Family Commissions” that commissions eight Miami-based filmmakers to develop new short films on the theme family.

Co-funded by the Lynn and Louis Wolfson II Family Foundation, the selected filmmakers (see list below) will each receive a portion of $120,000 produce an 8-12 minute film that is either a narrative, a documentary or a hybrid of the two. They will have up to six months to work on their respective films, which will be presented as works in progress at MDC’s Tower Theater in Miami in late summer 2022.

“This is a pivotal moment in the nearly 40-year history of our festival. We have more local films than ever before premiering at major film festivals, including ours,” said Jaie Laplante, Executive Director of the Miami Film Festival. “Our collaboration with Oolite Arts on the Family Commissions program is a chance for us to further showcase the talent we have here in Miami. And since family means different things to different people, we’re intrigued to see how these filmmakers interpret the theme in their work.

In 2020, Oolite Arts launched its first short film commission, Close Quarters, which culminated in a micro-film festival featuring short works by 12 quarantined Miami filmmakers. “Our first commission program was a great success,” said Dennis Scholl, President and CEO of Oolite Arts. “We are thrilled to expand and co-create this program with the Miami Film Festival through our largest commissions to date and provide local filmmakers with a stage to share their work. In recent years, we’ve added a Film Arts Residency Program to provide outstanding Miami-based filmmakers with the funds and space they need to develop their craft. This initiative further validates Oolite’s mission and its support for local creatives. »

Meet the eight filmmakers who have been chosen to participate in the Miami Film Festival and Oolite Arts Family Commissions:

  • Adrian Cardenas is a Cuban-American writer/director and former Major League Baseball player. Cardenas has written, directed, edited and shot films that have screened at top festivals, such as SXSW, Atlanta, Miami and Palm Springs. Most recently, he was selected as a Marcie Bloom Fellow, a Sony Pictures Classics mentorship program designed to introduce promising filmmakers to the film industry.
  • Javier Labrador is a director and cinematographer from Havana, Cuba. Labrador’s work has been screened at many of the world’s top film festivals, including Toronto, Berlin, Rotterdam, Poland’s Camerimage Festival and MoMA’s Documentary Fortnight. Several of his most notable credits include feature films Santa and Andrés, The Extraordinary Journey of Celeste Garcia, August and Hotel Nueva Isla, all of which premiered at the Miami Film Festival.
  • Chris Molina is a Miami-based filmmaker whose work focuses on queer stories revolving around self-reflection based on personal experiences. Molina’s films have screened at festivals like Indie Grits, the New Orleans Film Festival, and the Florida Film Festival. He was also named a Sundance Ignite Fellowship finalist in 2020 and 2021. In 2021, he secured a spot in Oolite Art’s Home and Away Residency, which sends Miami-based artists to the Anderson Ranch Arts Center in Colorado.
  • Francois Moreau is an award-winning director, writer, actor and filmmaker from Miami. Moreau is recognized for his acclaimed short films Room, new normaland Inside which have been accepted into critically acclaimed film festivals and Oscar qualifiers and “In A Lifetime” which also aired on PBS. He has starred alongside names such as Jo Marie Payton (Family matters) and Emmett Hunter (Atlanta FX).
  • Michael J. Ruiz-Unger is a filmmaker, video editor and comic book writer who grew up around Miami’s punk scene, filming music videos and live performances. His shorts have been accepted into several film festivals, including the Fantasia Film Festival, the Miami Short Film Festival, and the Brooklyn Short Film Festival.
  • Marianne Serrano is an emerging Latinx writer/director based in Miami. His thesis film, Escaped, which premiered at the 36th Miami Film Festival, where it won Best Actress in the Miami Film Festival’s CinemaSlam competition. The film was also part of the official selection for the Key West Film Festival’s Filmgate Festival (Month of Women Directors) and was presented as part of the S3 2020 South Florida PBS Filmmaker project. His last movie, A Pequeno Corte, was selected as part of PBS The Latin experiencewhich was released nationally, and is also featured in the upcoming Knight Made in MIA Award competition at the 39th Miami Film Festival.
  • Randy Valdez is a photographer and filmmaker whose work has premiered at Sheffield International Documentary Festival, Tribeca Film Festival and SXSW FilmFest, and screened at Hot Docs – Film and Music Series, New York Latino Film Festival, San Francisco Latino Film Festival, ScreenDance Miami and won Best Documentary Feature at XicanIndie FilmFest. His first short was acquired by HBO for national distribution and his second, Petrawon the Audience Award at the Miami Film Festival where it premiered.
  • Rahe-wanitanama is an Indigenous Caribbean artist/filmmaker who is a mix of Yamaye Taíno and Maroon ancestry. His work has screened at several respected film libraries and libraries, including Tribeca Film Center, Anthology Film Archives, and DCTV.

39and edition of the Miami Film Festival is scheduled to take place in person from March 4-13, 2022. For updates, visit and follow @MiamiFilmFestival on Facebook, @MiamiFilm on Instagram and @MiamiFilmFest on Twitter. #MiamiFF


About the Miami Dade College Miami Film Festival

The Miami Film Festival is an international film event that serves as a major film showcase for world cinema. Considered the premier film festival for showcasing Ibero-American cinema in the United States, the Miami Film Festival has become renowned for championing films made by the South Florida community, fledgling filmmakers and international feature film submissions to the Oscars. The annual festival, produced and presented by Miami Dade College, attracts more than 60,000 spectators and more than 400 filmmakers, producers, talents and industry professionals. Since 1984, the Festival has screened over 2,500 films from over 75 countries and awarded over US$2 million in cash prizes to filmmakers and distributors. The Miami Film Festival is the oldest major festival hosted at a university or college and also operates a year-round art cinema, Tower Theater Miami and Miami Film Festival GEMS in November. For more information, visit or call 305-237-FILM (3456).

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
Knight Foundation is a national foundation with strong local roots. We invest in journalism, the arts and the success of the cities where brothers John S. and James L. Knight once published newspapers. Our goal is to foster informed and engaged communities, which we believe is essential for a healthy democracy. For more information, visit

About Oolite Arts
Oolite Arts helps Miami-based artists advance their careers and inspires the cultural community to engage with their work. Founded in 1984, Oolite Arts is both a community and a resource, providing visual artists with the studio space, exhibition opportunities and financial support they need to experiment, grow and enrich the city. Through its educational programming, Oolite Arts helps Miamians discover contemporary art and develop their own artistic skills.

Oolite Arts exhibitions and programs are made possible through the support of the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs and the Council for Cultural Affairs; the Mayor of Miami-Dade County and the Board of County Commissioners; the Miami Beach Mayor and City Commissioners; the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Arts and Culture and the Florida Council of Arts and Culture; the national endowment for the arts; the Lynn and Louis Wolfson II Family Foundation; the Jorge M. Perez Family Foundation at the Miami Foundation and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. For more information, visit Follow @oolitearts on social media.

Miami Film Festival Media Contacts:

Rachel Pinzur, Pinzur Communications | 305-725-2875| [email protected]

Steven Wilson, Screenplay PR | 310-497-4951 | [email protected]

MDC Media Relations Contacts:
Juan C. Mendieta, MDC Director of Communications | 305-237-7611 | [email protected]
Sue Arrowsmith, Director of Media Relations | 305-237-3710 | [email protected]

Gerald R. Schneider