Six films from Spain, Portugal or Latin America will compete for the inaugural $5,000 award.

Miami International Film Festival (MIFF) programmers selected the finallists from films that had already been submitted to the 2012 festival.

Miami-based filmmakers Ali Codina, Aaron Salgado and Diego Ojeda will judge the contest and the 2012 MIFF Lexus Ibero-American Opera Prima Competition films are:

Las Acacias (Argentina-Spain), dir: Pablo Giorgelli
East Coast premiere

Expiration Date (Fecha De caducidad) (Mexico), dir: Kenya Márquez
East Coast premiere

Vaquero (Argentina), dir: Juan Minujín
US premiere

The Student (El Estudiante) (Argentina), dir: Santiago Mitre
Florida premiere

Speechless (Sin Palabras) (Colombia), dir: Ana Sofía Osorio Ruiz and Diego Bustamante
International premiere

Distancia (Guatemala), dir: Sergio Ramírez
US premiere.

“Ibero-American filmmakers are some of the most exciting visionaries in the industry today,” MIFF’s executive director Jaie Laplante said. “As the competition for our flagship Knight Ibero-American Grand Jury Prize becomes increasingly intense, working with Lexus to create a special award for emerging filmmakers making their ‘opera primas’ gives us an opportunity to especially highlight the new generation of filmmakers.”

“The competition serves as a valuable extension to the festival’s commitment of developing and nurturing films from Latin America, Portugal and Spain,” MIFF’s senior Ibero-American programme consultant Diana Sanchez said. ”Given that it’s difficult for many first time filmmakers to gain momentum and attention for their projects, the competition serves as a great vehicle to expose their works to global audiences and the most astute professionals in the industry.”

The Miami Grand Jury Award for Best Short Film returns in 2012 when a $2,500 cash prize will be on offer.