Global Lens Gets a Library Card!

Global Lens makes its long-awaited debut at public libraries across the U.S.

Big books, small books, magazines and catalogs. Shelves that stretch like buildings on a city block. Millions of words by thousands of people, pressed onto paper and compressed into a building…

Ever since I was a child, I’ve had an affinity for libraries. For me, they represent a space without limits or borders, a place of collected knowledge that lends itself to the imagination. In fact, I wrote my first poem in a library (after checking out a book on haiku), and spent many afternoons as a teenager cultivating my then-nascent interest in film, sitting in a corner watching the classics [on a VHS player].

Of course, libraries have evolved since my childhood, and none more profoundly than the American public library; what once began with Benjamin Franklin and a social-activity of lending books to his friends has now evolved into a community institution, media center and learning resource. And also, a crossroads of people and cultures, a place where new immigrants meet old residents, artists share space with academics and every language is within arm’s reach on a shelf.

And so, it’s only natural that we bring Global Lens to that environment.

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First Time’s a Charm: Global Lens Comes to Iowa!

In October of 2008, my wife and I—along with our 2 cats and everything we owned—drove a Budget rental truck across the country, from New York to San Francisco. We would have loved to have taken our time and done some sightseeing, but we were under a bit of a time constraint, so we pretty much stuck to Interstate 80 during the day, and after the sun went down, finding the closest Super 8 (very highly recommended, and many of them allow cats!). On our second night, we stayed in Peru, IL, before pressing onward the next morning. If, however, we had ended up making our big cross-country move exactly 3 years later, I definitely would have driven the extra 2 hours to ensure that we spent that night in Iowa City so we could catch a Global Lens 2011 film at the University of Iowa’s incredible Bijou Cinema!

All of us here at GFI are particularly excited about the Bijou Cinema hosting the series as it marks the very first time that Global Lens has been shown in the state of Iowa. Thanks to the enthusiasm of the wonderful Christina Buckles (Programming Director and Comparative Literature PhD student) and the Bijou’s dedicated volunteer staff, the University of Iowa’s student-run cinema is bringing Global Lens 2011 to the greater Iowa City community from October 29th to November 10th. The Bijou has

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Special Feature: Tom Alter on the Making of OCEAN OF AN OLD MAN

The DVD release is next month, but we’re giving you a peek behind the curtain of this extraordinary film

Indian director Rajesh Shera’s OCEAN OF AN OLD MAN follows a grief-stricken schoolteacher in the aftermath of the 2004 tsunami. As Shera’s debut feature and the first film ever to be shot on the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, the production was no easy feat and is a fascinating story in its own right.

Naturally, when Rajesh sent us a video interview with the film’s star, veteran Indian actor Tom Alter, we knew it would be an essential addition to the DVD’s special features. Through Alter’s narration and behind-the-scenes footage, audiences can witness how the crew converted an old restaurant into a schoolhouse, see the no-frills rooms that the crew stayed in during production, and hear how Alter—a former schoolteacher himself—personally related to his character.

It’s a special feature for a special film—now take it away, Tom:

THE IMAGE THREADS, a Feast for the “i”

East meets West as this Indian cyber adventure makes its West Coast premiere

A scene from Vipin Vijay's THE IMAGE THREADS

We’re pleased to announce that Vipin Vijay’s THE IMAGE THREADS (formerly titled THE LEGEND OF THE HOLY NET POTATO) will be screening as part of the 3rd i’s Ninth Annual San Francisco International South Asian Film Festival!

THE IMAGE THREADS received a GFI grant in 2008 and went on to screen at the São Paulo International Film Festival (New Filmmakers Competition) and the International Film Festival Rotterdam (In Competition). It is one of our more unusual films and definitely deserves a second (or third, or fourth) look. Read the review from Twitch below:

(via Twitch) What better country to make a film about the internet age than India, the largest IT labor exporting country? This serene, visual contemplation on the nature of the virtual world and finding one’s identity in it starts with an ironic quote: “I had a dream about reality. It was such a relief to wake up.” by a Polish aphorist Stanislaw J. Lec, which sets the tone of The Image Threads.

An IT professor named Hari, ‘pimping (in his own words)’ the information technology laborers to the US

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NOW PLAYING: St. Louis International Film Festival, Bijou Cinema, Kent State University and more!

Films from the Global Lens 2011 film series are now playing at the following venues and festivals across the U.S. and Canada:

Click on the map above to find a Global Lens screening near you!

St. Louis International Film Festival (St. Louis, MO): Presenting the complete Global Lens 2011 film series Check the film calendar for screening information

Palm Springs Art Museum (Palm Springs, CA): Presenting the complete Global Lens 2011 film series Check the film calendar for screening information

Tampa Museum of Art/Gasparilla International Film Festival (Tampa, FL): Presenting the complete Global Lens 2011 film series Check the film calendar for screening information

University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign, IL): Presenting the complete Global Lens 2011 film series Check the film calendar for screening information

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SUPPORT: Beyond Sun-Tzu

Santhosh Daniel, GFI Director of Programs, on the business of doing “good business”

A scene from MOURNING, by Iranian director Morteza Farshbaf (Global Lens 2012)

A few days ago, at the blink of midnight, we closed a distribution deal for the Iranian film MOURNING, by Morteza Farshbaf. And, like all late-night business, it was a harried affair, replete with heavy texting and the adrenalin rush of knowing we had acquired a film that, only a few hours earlier, took top awards at the 2011 Busan International Film Festival—Asia’s largest festival and film market.

For us, it was the culmination of a long four days in Busan and also, a modest pinnacle of achievement. Normally, we don’t make a play for films that are fresh out of a festival, covered in the glitter of awards—not because we don’t see the value of the work, but simply because the strength of our endeavor has never been about being the proverbial “player,” making a deal and beating our competitors for the “hot” film on the market.

But this film struck a very different and distinct chord, and so we decided to make an offer. And in the afterglow of signing it for our 2012 lineup (Global Lens 2012), it afforded us the opportunity to consider how such a deal, for such a film, was possible…

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GRANTING: Summer 2011 Grantees Announced!

Grantees include eight-director Mexican ensemble production, THE ROOM, and acclaimed Palestinian director Annemarie Jacir’s sophomore feature, WHEN I SAW YOU

On location for Annemarie Jacir's WHEN I SAW YOU

They submitted and we reviewed. Of course, what went into each process cannot be summed up in just a few words.

Nearly 100 films in various stages of production sent in applications, detailing their hard work, passion and vision. From every corner of the world—including first-time submissions from East Timor, Guatemala and Sri Lanka—filmmakers and producers mailed carefully-composed packages that contained the fruits of their labor (thankfully, they didn’t send the blood, sweat and tears shed in the process).

We went through each application (representing 44 nations in all) reading scripts, watching rough cuts, and writing detailed coverage of each film. It wasn’t an easy or obvious decision, but we did end up choosing ten exciting projects to award production funds, and are thrilled by the creativity and brilliance in each one.

Read the official press release now!

Iranian Actress Marzieh Vafamehr Released from Prison

The Global Film Initiative is pleased to announce that Marzieh Vafamehr, Iranian actress and star of MY TEHRAN FOR SALE (Global Lens 2010), has been released from prison after being sentenced to a year in jail and 90 lashes. See below for more information:

Marzieh Vafamehr, in a scene from MY TEHRAN FOR SALE

October 27, 2011: Release of actress Marzieh Vafamehr highlights plight of persecuted filmmakers (Amnesty International)

(via Amnesty International) Marzieh Vafamehr, who was arrested after starring in the Australian film My Tehran for Sale, was released on Monday night. One scene in the film shows her without the head-covering Iranian women are required to wear, while she appears to drink alcohol in another. The actress seems to have been released after an appeal court reduced her imprisonment to three months and overturned the flogging sentence. [more…]

October 9, 2011: MY TEHRAN FOR SALE Star to be Lashed 90 Times (The Telegraph) Iranian actress sentenced to a year in jail and 90 lashes for her role in a film about the limits imposed on artists in the Islamic republic

(via The Telegraph) Marzieh Vafamehr’s sentence was reported by an Iranian opposition website on Sunday. “A verdict has been issued for Marzieh Vafamehr, sentencing her to a year in

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OPEN MIC: In the Company of Strangers

Erin Buckley—current film student and former GFI intern—discusses watching movies through the eyes of a collective audience

A few years ago I found myself sitting in New York’s Battery Park watching an outdoor screening of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid with hundreds of strangers. The film had long been my favorite, first seen on AMC with my parents and later becoming irresistible due to the great mustaches and charm of Paul Newman and Robert Redford. I loved it well and thought I knew it the same, but sitting there hearing roaring laughs, gasps of held breath, and deeply appreciative applause at the climactic ending, the film became something completely new to me—it came to life.

From then on, audiences became the vital ingredient of my movie going. Others might go to see movies for the timeliness of opening weekends, to find an escape, or for affordable entertainment. Unlike home viewing, the dreaded “reformatting” is avoided and the cinematography remains exactly as it was intended. Surround sound in theaters is pretty fantastic. There are no interruptions from roommates, scratched DVDs, stalled “instant” streaming, or commercials. Really, seeing a movie on a projection screen is a sacred experience of sorts. But what about all of the other people there? There are countless merits to seeing a film

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Sneak Preview: Global Lens 2012!

The official announcement is a few weeks away, but we’re spilling the beans. Here’s an exclusive glimpse of a few films from next year’s lineup! Drumroll please…

We’ll start with two very special films: AMNESTY, by Albanian newcomer Bujar Alimani and FAT, BALD, SHORT MAN—Carlos Osuna’s unique and endearing [rotoscope] portrait of a man in the middle of, well, middle age.

Both films will have their official Global Lens release in New York this January, but if you’d like a sneak preview, check them out at the Chicago International Film Festival (October 6th-20th)!

Hmmm…want more? Well, we don’t want to give too much away. But, as an additional teaser, check out the trailer below for another excellent film from the 2012 series: CRAFT, by Brazilian auteur Gustavo Pizzi!