STREAMING NOW: Two Global Lens Favorites on Amazon Prime

Two Global Lens films are available for streaming on Amazon Prime:  Wretched Lives, by Filipino actor and director Joel Lamangan, and In the Battlefields, by Lebanese filmmaker Danielle Arbid.  Both films follow the difficult lives of young women living in dangerous times.

Vanessa (Assunta di Rossi), in Wretched Lives, struggles to provide for her troubled sister following the death of their mother, in politically-torn Manila. For Vanessa the struggle is to make ends meet and to protect her sister from threats that include men she can’t always trust and authorities that manipulate the poor with little regard for consequences.


Lina (Marianne Feghali) is a young girl just entering her teens in In the Battlefields.  She lives with her family in Beirut, in the midst of Lebanon’s searing civil war.  Her family shares the building where they live with relatives.  Often afraid to step outside during the day, they huddle together in the basement at night while bombs explode in the streets around them.  Desperate to escape the civil war among her relatives, Lina forms a dangerous friendship that leads her into the war outside.

Wretched Lives (Hubog), 2001, The Philippines.  Directed by Joel Lamangan.   In Tagalog and English, with subtitles in English, 102 minutes

In the Battlefields (Dans les champs de bataille – Maarek hob), 2004, Lebanon.  Directed by Danielle Arbid.  In Arabic, with subtitles in English, 90 minutes

GFI meets with filmmakers at CineMart

Shireen Seno

Shireen Seno (Philippines) pitched her film project, Nervous Translation

Deniz Gamze Erguven

Deniz Gamze Erguven of Turkey presented her project, Mustang

Board Chair Susan Weeks Coulter reports from Rotterdam that she has seen several promising film projects at CineMart.

CineMart provides an opportunity for filmmakers to pitch their projects to industry professionals interested in supporting promising films with financing.  CineMart was the first such platform, and is held in conjunction with the International Film Festival in Rotterdam, which continues through this weekend.  Watch this space for updates from Rotterdam!

Rajesh Jaia

Rajesh Jaia and Cedomir Kolar (India) presented their film project, Chingari (The Spark)

Preparing to Greet Old Friends, Meet with New Friends – -

yellow bag

The Global Film Initiative is happy to announce that Board Chair Susan Weeks Coulter will once again travel to Rotterdam’s CineMart, January 26th-29th, to meet with filmmakers with projects in progress.

Sign up with IFFR’s Inke Loocke, coordinator of one-on-one meetings, at

or on Facebook – -

or look for the yellow bag at CineMart.

 See you there!

Two Special Awards to Young Filmmakers at PLURAL+

On December 5th at the PLURAL+ 2013 Awards Ceremony two important special awards will be presented to two youth-produced videos. Each recipient will receive $5,000 from The Global Film Initiative.

This year The Global Film Initiative has joined efforts with PLURAL+ by offering two important awards:

Exodo by Sergio Ruiz Velasco de Alba, from Mexico, for Clarity, Effectiveness and Artistic Achievement (migration)

and to:

As I want by Alaa Al Sa’di, from Jordan, Depth and Nuance in Story-Telling (social inclusion)

The Global Film Initiative would like to recognize these filmmakers for their exceptional artistic and evocative cinematic communication, as well as for their exceptional and rich messaging in audio-visual story-telling.

In making these awards, The Global Film Initiative hopes that these two talented individuals will continue to create new films and take their place within the respective country’s emerging independent film industries.

Both filmmakers will be in New York to receive their awards at the PLURAL+ Awards Ceremony on December 5th, 6-8 pm at the Paley Center for Media in New York (25 West 52nd Street).  The event is free and open to all, RSVP is mandatory:

 In promoting cross-cultural understanding through cinema, The Global Film Initiative has, for the past decade, offered both support and a platform for independent film makers from countries that may have been over-looked by the rest of the world.

Films are selected for artistic excellence, exceptional story-telling and/or compelling cultural content. For more information please visit

PLURAL+ is organized by the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations and the International Organization for Migration with the collaboration of many international partners. For more information please visit pluralplus.unaoc.orgbanner

ATTENTION FILMMAKERS: Granting Program Suspended for Fall 2013

The Global Film Initiative’s Granting Program has been temporarily suspended. There will be NO Fall/Winter Granting process for 2013.

“This year we have been assessing the changing landscape of the independent, international film industry,” says Susan Weeks Coulter, Board Chair of The Global Film Initiative.  “It is appropriate that we step back from our programs we re-evaluate our role in bringing international film to American audiences.”

Announcements of future plans will appear on Facebook and on our blog (

Now Playing: Global Lens Inside . . . your public library!

libraries buildDespite tough economic times, public libraries across the country have a full calendar of cultural programs, including artists and music, discussion of current events and issues, dancing, films and poetry.  With tight budgets and scarce resources, they’re finding creative ways to reach their audiences, including social media.  Libraries are posting announcements and event calendars on blogs, invitations and RSVPs on Facebook, last minute updates on Twitter.

We think this kind of creativity deserves our support!  How about a film and discussion program that recognizes libraries across the country for using low-cost, high impact marketing strategies?

The Global Film Initiative introduces Global Lens Inside, a film and discussion program with social media marketing support that grants a full set of critically-acclaimed Global Lens films to public libraries.  Global Lens films explore characters and stories from countries around the world, such as China, Brazil, Lebanon, India, Angola, Serbia and Mexico, and come with discussion guides to encourage lively film and discussion programs.  Participating libraries keep the Global Lens films for their permanent collections.

Libraries interested in participating in Global Lens Inside should contact for an application.

Now Playing: Global Lens Dives Into Summer


THE PARADE (Global Lens 2013) plays The Human Rights Watch Film Festival in New York this June

THE PARADE, STUDENT and the rest of Global Lens 2013 soak up the summer screen…

Global Lens 2013 is heating up screens across the country all through the summer! This month in the spotlight:

Srdjan Dragojević’s THE PARADE is set to screen at the Human Rights Watch Film Festival this month (June 13-23) in New York City. Through its humane and shrewdly comedic story, this powerful film exposes us to gay rights issues that many face in Serbia today.

Continue reading Now Playing: Global Lens Dives Into Summer

GRANTING: Ten Years to the Day in Global Film Funding

Ten years ago today, GFI announced the recipients of the inaugural granting program, and look at us now…


On April 10, The Global Film Initiative announced it’s most recent grant recipients from the Winter 2012 granting cycle. The list of grantees features 11 works from both emerging and established filmmakers, representing 10 different countries around the world, and each project demonstrates great promise and vision. As Susan Weeks Coulter, Founder and Board Chair, said in the announcement: “We are pleased to identify and support these eleven unique and powerful narratives.”

What makes this granting cycle particularly special, however, is that it is the most recent in GFI’s now decade-old granting program. Ten years ago to the day, the very first round of grantees were announced on May 16, 2003. In celebration of this milestone, we’re taking a look back on the films GFI has funded over the years.

Again and again, our grantees represent filmmakers who are not afraid to challenge convention–to make sometimes dangerous, but always fiercely truthful statements about the society, and the world, that reflect them. These films often represent new perspectives and voices in storytelling–voices which are too often silenced or misrepresented in the mainstream–and hold promise in heralding a new generation of filmmakers.

Continue reading GRANTING: Ten Years to the Day in Global Film Funding

INTERVIEW: Life, Death and Moving On with Sebastián Silva


Filmmaker Sebastán Silva

Rob Avila asks the [young] veteran about his very first feature, LIFE KILLS ME, and whether there’s any truth to the saying ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’…

Rob Avila met Sebastián Silva–the 34-year-old New York-based Chilean filmmaker, who received international acclaim in 2009 with his beautifully wrought, darkly funny drama, THE MAID (LA NANA)–at the beginning of a very big week. Silva debuted not one but two new films at the 2013 Sundance Film FestivalCRYSTAL FAIRY and MAGIC MAGIC—both featuring popular Canadian actor Michael Cera. Even before that happened, Silva headed to the Museum of Modern Art for the New York premiere of yet another of his films–his very first, 2007’s LIFE KILLS ME (LA VIDA ME MATA), as part of the Global Film Initiative’s Global Lens 2013 series.

LIFE KILLS ME centers on a taciturn young man, Gaspar (Gabriel Díaz), emotionally immobile and feebly suicidal with grief since the death of his idolized older brother. Gaspar lives with his older sister, his senile mother, and his dying grandfather, but occupies his time working as a cinematographer on a short horror film written and directed by, as well as starring, a flamboyant and irrepressible no-talent named Susana (the scene-stealing Claudia Celedón, who with costar Catalina Saavedra would go on to work with Silva in THE MAID and his 2010 feature, OLD CATS).

It’s through Susana that Gaspar meets an oddball drifter named Alvaro (Diego Muñoz), who appears obsessed with death and somewhat headless of the normal bounds of decency. It doesn’t take long before Gaspar comes to believe Alvaro is the reincarnation of his brother, and the two form a bond that is for Gaspar both therapeutic and morbid, perhaps even potentially dangerous.  Continue reading INTERVIEW: Life, Death and Moving On with Sebastián Silva

FEATURE: SOUTHWEST Screened at San Francisco’s Historic Clay Theater in 35mm

photoA birth, a death, a lifetime–Eduardo Nunes’ incredible debut feature film contains the longest measure of time imaginable in a single day and on April 10, GFI hosted one unforgettable screening of the film

The Global Film Initiative held an event for local friends that might be called a purist-cinephile’s dream–a screening of Eduardo Nunes’ visually striking, black and white film, SOUTHWEST, in 35mm, at San Francisco’s historic Clay Theater. It was a return to the collective spectatorship that went hand-in-hand with the cinematic experience in days before the advent of personal computers and televisions, a celebration of film and the connectivity it can provide.

Continue reading FEATURE: SOUTHWEST Screened at San Francisco’s Historic Clay Theater in 35mm