The mission of Miami International Film Festival is to bridge cultural understanding and encourage artistic development by provoking thought through film. By bringing the best of world cinema to Miami, the Festival presents the city and the film industry with a singular platform that fosters creative and technical talent.

The Festival had its beginnings as the main activity of the Film Society of Miami, Inc., which was founded in 1983. Since its first edition, which opened on February 3, 1984, the Festival has continued to bring the finest in world cinema to South Florida. The Festival has gained recognition with its consistently high quality of programming and presentations from filmmakers, critics, and the film industry. During the early years, films were screened in a variety of local theaters in the greater Miami area. By the sixth Festival in 1989, the Olympia Theater at the Gusman Center for the Performing Arts had become the official residence.

As the 1990s drew to a close, the Film Society transferred administration of the Festival to Florida International University for a brief period, and then in October 2003 to Miami Dade College (MDC), where it has remained since. MDC has led the Festival through a period of tremendous growth and expansion, and the number of official Festival venues increased in the 2010’s to include (in addition to the Olympia Theater), Regal South Beach Cinemas, MDC’s Tower Theater, Colony Theatre, City of Miami Beach’s Soundscape Park at New World Center, Cosford Cinema, Miami Beach Cinematheque, Coral Gables Art Cinema, O Cinema, Cinepolis, and Wynwood Walls.