<p>The view from the official festival headquarters, The Standard Hotel.</p>

The view from the official festival headquarters, The Standard Hotel.

Credit: Guy Lodge

Checking in at the Miami International Film Festival

The fest kicked off last night with Sundance hit 'Twenty Feet from Stardom'

MIAMI - As thrilling as it is to be in the thick of the action at such superfests as Cannes or Sundance, I may well enjoy the smaller, less flashy film festival circuit even more --  as well as affording you a chance to catch up on previous festival hits you may have missed, the more off-the-beaten-track, locally-flavored programming often yields gems you'd never find otherwise. (And I won't lie: with less stress around covering this or that major auteur premiere comes more time to take in some local color. Hey, even cinephiles like seeing the off-screen world on occasion.) 

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<p>Pedro Almod&oacute;var on the set of &quot;I'm&nbsp;So Excited&quot;</p>

Pedro Almodóvar on the set of "I'm So Excited"

Credit: Sony Classics

Seatbacks and tray tables up as the trailer for Pedro Almodóvar's 'I'm So Excited' hits

Film is set for June 28 arrival, with a potential layover in Cannes

We mentioned a few weeks ago that Sony Classics has lined up release dates for its summer slate, consisting of Richard Linklater's Sundance hit "Before Midnight," Woody Allen's latest, "Blue Jasmine," and Pedro Almodóvar's "I'm So Excited." The latter in particular looks to be a wild romp akin to the director's earlier work.

We might expect to see the film, which hits theaters on June 28, at the Cannes Film Festival. Almodóvar's last film, "The Skin I Live In," premiered on the Croisette and news of his latest emanated from the fest in 2012.

A new trailer has been released, courtesy of Total Film. Take a look below.

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<p>Empire readers love &quot;The Avengers.&quot; Don't look so surprised, fellas.</p>

Empire readers love "The Avengers." Don't look so surprised, fellas.

Credit: Walt Disney Pictures

'Skyfall,' 'The Avengers,' 'The Hobbit' lead nominations for Jameson Empire Awards

But what films were Jennifer Lawrence and Anne Hathaway nominated for?

While two-thirds of this year's Best Picture Oscar nominees grossed over $100 million, there are still those who think blockbuster cinema is shortchanged by the Academy -- franchise films, in particular, struggle to get much respect beyond the technical categories, however well-executed. We can argue back and forth about the rights and wrongs of that, but for more populist-minded viewers, the Jameson Empire Awards should come as a relief.

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<p>Shailene Woodley and Miles Teller in &quot;The Spectacular Now.&quot;</p>

Shailene Woodley and Miles Teller in "The Spectacular Now."

Credit: A24

A24 sets summer releases for 'Spectacular Now' and 'The Bling Ring'

The new distributor is building a youthful slate

Independent distributor A24 may be less than a year old, but they're already building a clear brand image -- if it's stylish, name-heavy and young-skewing, they're interested.

Though they've been making their presence felt with high-profile festival purchases since last fall, but they're only just beginning to venture out into the real world. Roman Coppola's critically panned "A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III," starring Charlie Sheen and Bill Murray, was their first theatrical release three weeks ago -- it's left them much room for improvement.

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<p>The&nbsp;National frontman Matt&nbsp;Berninger</p>

The National frontman Matt Berninger

Credit: AP Photo

The National documentary 'Mistaken for Strangers' to open Tribeca fest

The 12th annual festival runs April 17-28

Lots of festival news this week. Next up, the Tribeca Film Festival has announced its opening night premiere for the 12th annual edition of the fest: Tom Berninger's documentary "Mistaken for Strangers," which chronicles Brooklyn-based band The National on tour.

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<p>Telluride, Colorado</p>

Telluride, Colorado

Credit: AP Photo

Telluride announces 40th anniversary festival celebration and creation of new venue

650-seat Werner Herzog Theatre pays tribute to fest's most famous regular

This September I'll be off to the mountains of Colorado for my fifth trip to the Telluride Film Festival. It's been a delightful excursion to start every season over that spread, though even in that short amount of time the crunch of other outlets descending on the space for an early look at potential awards players has been felt (and even I started going at a time when that escalation was already on the rise).

Excitement will be as high as ever this year as the festival celebrates its 40th anniversary with an extra day added to the long Labor Day weekend festivities. Not only that, but a new venue has been announced bearing the name of the fest's most famous regular, director Werner Herzog.

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<p>Steven Spielberg</p>

Steven Spielberg

Credit: AP Photo

Steven Spielberg named president of this year's Cannes Film Festival jury

The festival runs from 15 to 25 May

Hey, who needs a third Best Director win? On the heels of his Oscar night disappointment, Steven Spielberg received some solace in the form of a very different, though arguably no less prestigious, cinematic honor: he's been named the the president of the Competition jury at the 66th Cannes Film Festival. (Not that it will have come as a surprise to him, of course: he provisionally accepted the job when it was offered to him two years ago.) 

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Oscars 2014: 25 films to watch for

Oscars 2014: 25 films to watch for

Should George Clooney start staking out another spot on the mantle?

The engravings on Ben Affleck, George Clooney and Grant Heslov's Best Picture Oscars for "Argo" are still fresh and already the gears are spinning across the net on what to expect in the film awards season next year. Of course we were going to pile on.

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<p>A placard held by a visual effects community protester at the Oscars on Sunday</p>

A placard held by a visual effects community protester at the Oscars on Sunday

Credit: Billy Brooks

Tech Support: Visual Effects Society issues a 'call to action'

Executive director Eric Roth sends out a determined open letter

If you've paid any attention to the film industry the last few weeks, or maybe at least noticed green icons all over Facebook and Twitter, you're well aware of the on-going state of frustration within the visual effects community. HitFix's Drew McWeeny laid out a very compelling and considered piece this week examining why the industry playing chicken with these guys is a bad, bad idea, and the reportage on the "fragile underpinnings" of all of this really stems back to a David Cohen piece in Variety two weeks ago. In so many words, we're approaching a watershed moment.

With that in mind, Visual Effects Society Executive Director Eric Roth has issued an open letter and a "call to action," imploring government and, certainly, industry attention be paid to this post-production sector. "The amazing irony," he writes, "is that while 47 of the top 50 films of all time are visual effects driven and billions of dollars of profits are generated yearly, the actual people who create the work are becoming an endangered species in California."

Read the letter in its entirety below.

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<p>Quvenzhan&eacute; Wallis walks the red carpet at the 85th annual&nbsp;Academy Awards</p>

Quvenzhané Wallis walks the red carpet at the 85th annual Academy Awards

Credit: AP Photo

Sony sets 'Annie' with Quvenzhané Wallis for Christmas 2014

Is it too early to talk Oscars 2015? It is? Okay.

You didn't think you had heard the last of "Beasts of the Southern Wild" star Quvenzhané Wallis, I hope. The youngest Best Actress nominee of all time was shrewdly announced on Oscar Sunday as the lead in the Will Smith-produced, Will Gluck-directed adaptation of the musical "Annie," and today a release date has been announced: Christmas 2014.

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