FOCUS: An Indian Indie

From dodging debt to clearing censorship, SOUL OF SAND director, Sidharth Srinivasan, discusses the genesis of a film fueled by “passion, persistence, patience–and pig headedness!”

(Image courtesy of Sidharth Srinivasan)

It’s been three achingly long years from script to screen. We shot PAIRON TALLE (SOUL OF SAND) as an utter indie, sans any form of corporate funding let alone guarantee of completion, on love, not-so-fresh air and foolhardiness, in the fall of 2008. To embark on such a venture one has to contend with a veritable host of naysayers—aghast outsiders, concerned family members and frowning well-wishers, and during pre-production I could almost smell the cast and crew clandestinely questioning the folly of my endeavors behind my back, but supporting me nonetheless for my very personal Waterloo (bless their souls). I say stick to your guns if the project has stuck with you for as long as it has—independent filmmaking is the exclusive domain of masochists who revel in the pleasure/pain principle…

Once principal photography began in earnest everyone was disbelievingly stunned into action, as it were, and spirits ran alarmingly high – the joy of a successful shoot is akin to chasing that ubiquitous dragon. But the low that came post-shooting hit like a ton of bricks – case in point, our film was in the proverbial can but we were over-budget (despite having completed

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NOW PLAYING: Memphis Public Library, Palm Springs Art Museum 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:

Memphis Public Library (Memphis, TN): Presenting the complete Global Lens 2011 film series Check the film calendar for screening information

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

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

Kent State University (Kent, OH): Presenting the complete Global Lens 2011 film series Check the film calendar for screening information

The University of Texas-Pan American (Edinburg, TX): Presenting the complete Global Lens 2011 film series

Global Lens now playing on Virgin American flights!

Check the film calendar

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FEATURE: A Uruguayan in San Francisco

Joanne Parsont, Director of Education at the San Francisco Film Society, on A USEFUL LIFE’S Federico Veiroj as an Artist in Residence (and honorary SF resident)…

From the moment he arrived in San Francisco, Uruguayan filmmaker Federico Veiroj was on the move—and seemingly right at home. As the second participant in the San Francisco Film Society’s new Artist in Residence program (made possible by a grant from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences), Veiroj spent two action-packed weeks in San Francisco in November. While I knew we had a slew of events and activities planned for his time here, I had no idea how much more he would manage to pack into that time himself.

Federico Veiroj and one of his new SF friends

When I picked him up at SFO on the morning of November 10, he had been traveling for more than 21 hours through 4 airports since his departure from Montevideo. I figured I’d drop him off at the house where he’d be staying (graciously hosted by SFFS Board President Pat McBaine and his wife Susie) and let him get some sleep while I went back

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NEWS: Ugandan Donald Mugisha Receives Largest Grant from World Cinema Fund to Finance Feature Inspired by “Bicycle Thieves” (indieWire)

Boda Boda ThievesGFI grantee BODA BODA THIEVES receives 60,000 € ($81,000) in funding from the World Cinema Fund

(via indieWire) Congrats to Ugandan Donald Mugisha whose feature film project, The Boda Boda Thieves, was one of just 5 projects selected by the World Cinema Fund to receive production funding from its allotted $283,000 grant.

Donald’s project, which he will direct, received the largest chunk of the fund – $81,000, as Norway based Switch Films has signed on to produce.

The film’s synopsis reads:

When Goodman gets a job for his son Abel as driver of a motorbike taxi or “Boda-Boda”, he feels like things are possibly finally going his way, that is, until a gang of thieves robs Abel of his treasured motorbike. We follow Goodman and his son Abel on their quest through the city to find their “Boda Boda” and in the process gain an insider’s view of urban Africa, its underworld and the generation gap between urban migrants and their first generation children. [more…]

EDUCATION: International Education Week!

Schools in 14 states across the U.S. participate in GFI’s annual educational screening program!

Click on the map above to view International Education Week 2011 participants!

We’re pleased to announce that 22 schools across the U.S. will be screening Global Lens films as part of our annual International Education Week program this week (Nov. 14-18)!

Teachers and students—from the “Home of Susie the Duck” (Lodi, WI) to the seaport city of Seattle, Washington, as well as “River City” (Memphis, TN) and our very own San Francisco Bay Area—will participate in educational screenings of Global Lens films this week to celebrate and promote international exchange and education. The International Education Week screening program is held each year in conjunction with celebrations sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education and Department of State.

Here are some interesting facts about this year’s screening program and its participants:

22 high schools and universities in 21 cities representing 14 different states State with the most participants (4): California 14 public high schools 4 International Baccalaureate high schools 2 charter high schools High school with smallest student body (207 students): Armand Hammer United World College of the American West High school with the largest student body (2,400 students): Continue reading EDUCATION: International Education Week!

Film Festivals Celebrate Human Rights (The Korea Herald)

The North Korean Human Rights Film Festival and the Independence, Democracy Film Festival bring DOOMAN RIVER (Global Lens 2011) and other influential films to Seoul

A scene from Zhang Lu's DOOMAN RIVER

(via The Korea Herald) Two human rights-themed film festivals open in Seoul this month ― a rare opportunity to experience a wide range of socially conscious documentaries and feature-length films.

The first North Korean Human Rights Film Festival, which kicks off on Nov. 10 at Lee Hae-rang Arts Theater of Dongguk University in Seoul, brings together 10 non-fiction and feature films that delve into human rights conditions in the communist country.…Korean-Chinese director Zhang Lu’s feature film “Dooman River” presents a story of an ethnic Korean boy who lives in a Chinese province that shares its border with Hamgyeong Province in North Korea. His life is turned upside down when he befriends a North Korean boy who often crosses the border ― through the Duman River ― in secret, to find food in the Chinese town. [more…]

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NEW ON DVD: Leo’s Room and Ocean of an Old Man!

LGBT Festival-favorite LEO’S ROOM and Rajesh Shera’s Post-Apocalyptic Gem OCEAN OF AN OLD MAN to Release on DVD November 8th

The Global Film Initiative is pleased to announce the DVD release of two new films from the Global Lens film series:

Dir. Enrique Buchichio Uruguay, 2009, 92 minutes Spanish, with subtitles in English
Shaken by a recent breakup, a troubled but handsome young man dreams of the future and cautiously explores his sexuality with the encouragement of an old friend and a sympathetic therapist. Special Jury Award, Torino GLBT Film Festival; Official Selection of the San Sebastián Film Festival (New Directors), NewFest and Miami International Film Festival.
“A sensitive, engaging and emotive portrayal of a young man coming to terms with his sexuality. Leo’s Room is a triumph of a movie….The understated performances, subtle direction and strong story make Leo’s Room a must-see.” -Entertainment Focus
“Filled with wonderful little touches and character beats….Leo’s Room feels utterly fresh.” -Miami Herald

OCEAN OF AN OLD MAN Dir. Rajesh Shera India, 2008, 84 minutes Hindi, with subtitles in English In the devastating aftermath of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, an elderly British schoolteacher comes to grips with his own loss as he searches for

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The Out-of-Towners

L-R: Granting & Distribution Coordinator, Angelica Dongallo, Filmmaker and GFI Film Board member, Gaston Kabore, Administrative Coordinator, Emma Rae Lierley

Administrative Coordinator Emma Rae Lierley on “keeping it local” with GFI’s global guests

‘Promoting cross-cultural understanding through cinema’ is an interesting endeavor in the digital age: most of our work happens at a stationary desk, firmly rooted in our San Francisco office, with new-fangled technology making all of it possible. And while we do take the occasional international trip (such as our recent excursion to Basque country!), we’re often required to be more home-body than jet-setter. Which is exactly why interacting with people outside of our office gives us different perspectives on the world–and why we get so excited when visitors come to our ‘neck of the woods.’

Last month, the Mill Valley Film Festival (MVFF) brought new and old friends to the Bay Area. Paula Markovitch, director of The Prize and Anas El Baz, lead actor of Pegasus, both visited our neighbors on the other side of the Golden Gate Bridge, and gave audiences at MVFF a sneak preview of two standout films from Global Lens 2012–which has its official release in January.

The festival also paid tribute to our old friend and GFI Film Board Member Gaston Kabore with screenings

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