SUPPORT: A Perfect 10

It’s been ten spectacular years since our first grant and the launch of Global Lens, and 200+ filmmakers later, we’ve only broken the surface…

Zeba Bakhtiar, CEO of Sagar Entertainment

WATCH: Zeba Bakhtiar, CEO of Sagar Entertainment, on Pakistan's film and media industry

More than a decade ago, in a small bar in Beijing, the Global Film Initiative was launched, at least in concept. The idea: to create a film-based organization, a social enterprise, that ‘leveled the field’ via its support of filmmakers in nations without established film industries; and its promotion of public education and community in the U.S. through a dynamic network of partners in the arts.

Years later, we’ve seen that idea flourish, take root and grow at an unbelievable rate. We’ve now supported filmmakers from more than 50 nations through grants and [Global Lens] distribution, and in some cases, launched careers. Global Lens is screened throughout the U.S., and at an ever-increasing number of high schools and public libraries. And, we have an amazing base of followers who credit us with playing an integral role in the growth of their regional industry–and opening minds to new perspectives, politics and ways of doing business.

But, for as good as all that sounds, it’s not enough. There is still a world out there

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FEATURE: From Baghdad to San Antonio, QARANTINA Comes to South Texas

UT San Antonio Professor Steven G. Kellman (and former HuffPo contributor) on fighting off the ‘the toxins of cultural provincialism’ with QARANTINA…

A scene from QARANTINA (dir. Oday Rasheed, Iraq)

Though it is the seventh largest city in the United States, San Antonio is, like all but a few other areas in the country, virtually quarantined against foreign cinema. When an imported film does get screened in a local commercial theater, it is almost always from Britain, since, according to the industry’s conventional wisdom, Americans are monolingual, and they do not go to the movies to read; box-office receipts for inferior remakes of The Vanishing, The Debt, and The Seven Samurai exceed those for the subtitled originals. Film is the most portable of the arts, but national aversion to foreign film reflects widespread indifference to anything beyond our borders but violence.

As an antidote to the toxins of cultural provincialism, the San Antonio Museum of Art has scheduled monthly public screenings of works – twice each – provided by the Global Film Initiative. I was invited by SAMA to introduce the films and lead post-screening discussions.

October’s offering, Qarantina, written and directed by Oday Rasheed, is an outstanding demonstration of foreign cinema’s power to bring fresh perspectives to worlds that many hardly knew existed. Set in contemporary Baghdad, Qarantina is a film by Iraqis, about

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MONTH IN REVIEW: Flying High with GFI

Flying high with GFI

Board member Shaari Ergas catches air with Virgin America, Evan Knopf joins our ground crew and our new Facebook page launches across the interwebs…

As the first rains of the season hit the West Coast, it makes us here at GFI want to cuddle up and watch good movies til Spring. Before we do that, however, we’ve had some moves to make–in the air, on the ground, and on the internet.

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Variety and Screen International let slip on three new Global Lens 2013 films by producer Bahman Ghobadi, and directors Zhang Yuan and Suman Ghosh

As the saying goes, ‘good things come in threes.’ Or, a “trio”:


(via Variety) Trio of Busan fest pics to get U.S. release San Francisco-based The Global Film Initiative has acquired three Busan Film Festival players for U.S. release, Bahman Ghobadi-produced “111 Girls,” Zhang Yuan’s “Beijing Flickers” and Suman Ghosh’s “Shyamal Uncle Turns Off the Lights.”Helmed by first-timers Bijan Zmanpira and Nahid Ghobadi, “111 Girls” is an Iraqi-Kurdish dramedy produced by Abbas Ghazali and Iranian helmer Bahman Ghobadi (“Turtles Can Fly”). [more…]


NEWS: GFI at the Arab Film Fest and Inaugural China Onscreen Biennial

This month, we hit our cultural stride with showcase screenings of BEJING FLICKERS, PEGASUS and QARANTINA in DC, LA, SF…

A scene from Zhang Yuan's BEIJING FLICKERS (Global Lens 2013)

We’ll get right to it, because it’s that good:

GFI recently co-presented the U.S. premiere of Zhang Yuan’s BEIJING FLICKERS (one of our newest films from Global Lens 2013–the tenth anniversary of the series!), in Los Angeles and Washington D.C. as part of the Confucius Institute’s inaugural China Onscreen Biennial:

A groundbreaking exhibition of Chinese cinema – featuring cutting-edge and blockbuster contemporary films, as well as seldom glimpsed archival rarities – launches at venues citywide in Los Angeles on October 13, 2012. The program selection proposes a new way of looking at Chinese cinema, encompassing richly diverse, genre-crossing programming, including short and feature-length animation, documentaries and narrative films, as well as works originated for different platforms such as theatrical release, internet viewing, and art installations. – China Onscreen Biennial

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SPOTLIGHT: A Natural Fit in Champaign-Urbana

Karen Hewitt at University of Illinois’s Center for Global Studies on the importance of bringing a “Global Lens” to campus…

Ann Rasmus, Art @ the Y Program Director, University YMCA (left) and Karen Hewitt, Outreach Coordinator, Center for Global Studies, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

2012 marks the fourth consecutive year that Global Lens has been showcased at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, organized by Karen Hewitt, Outreach Coordinator for the University’s Center for Global Studies. From the very beginning, it was clear that the venue was a natural fit for the film series, and every subsequent year has continued to demonstrate this. We recently touched base with Karen to ask some questions about the Center for Global Studies and the role of Global Lens in her community.

Karen, we first spoke in June 2009 when I approached you about working with the Center for Global Studies to bring the Global Lens film series to the University of Illinois. Had the Center ever sponsored any film screenings previously?

The Center for Global Studies is a National Resource Center for International and Area Studies funded by a Title VI grant through the US Department of Education. One of the primary purposes of these grants is training in “Less Commonly Taught Languages.” In the past, we have co-sponsored film series organized

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FESTIVALS & AWARDS: Festival du Nouveau Cinema, Abu Dhabi FF, Mumbai FF and more!

SOUTHWEST (coming soon via Global Lens 2013!) wins a critics award in Montreal, WHEN I SAW YOU wins Best Arab Film in Abu Dhabi and MISS LOVELY takes the festival circuit by storm!

It’s a new month and that means more festival appearances and awards for our Global Lens and GFI-funded films! See below for the latest updates:

GFI grant recipient WILDLIFE (Philippines) won the NETPAC Award for Best Asian Film at the Warsaw Film Festival! (Photo: Busan IFF)

Continue reading FESTIVALS & AWARDS: Festival du Nouveau Cinema, Abu Dhabi FF, Mumbai FF and more!

EDUCATION: ‘Striking Gold’ with Global Lens

Richard Katz, AP Human Geography Teacher at Roosevelt High School, on understanding our ‘universal humanity’ via foreign film…

"We all laughed and came away feeling how universal the experience of film and laughter must be across cultures." -Rik Katz, after screening Global Lens film MASQUERADES to his high school students.

The first time my students and I viewed an international film together, it was eye-opening. We watched a film from Algeria entitled MASQUERADES—we were all prepared for a serious account of this country, but were happily surprised to discover the film was actually a satire! We all laughed and came away feeling how universal the experience of film and laughter must be across cultures. That was when I realized that we had struck gold, and I just had to share this with other members of our school community. The students could also not stop talking about the experience and how transformative it was.

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INDUSTRY: Trends in Global Film, by Way of GFI’s Granting Program

A quick look at the facts, figures and forward movement of our program, after ten years of international film funding…

BUFFALO BOY (Vietnam) was one of four grants we provided to filmmakers when we began our Granting Program almost ten years ago!

Every granting cycle has its own personality, and this Summer’s cycle was no exception (“bad hair,” good politicians—we had it all this round, so read the press release and our blog for the scoop!). But, unlike other cycles, this one also had a bit of “extra” personality…For you see, this year marks our tenth year of awarding grants to filmmakers from around. And oh, how the times have changed…

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NOW PLAYING: Let THE FINGER Point You Toward Global Lens!

A gentle political satire set in a remote pueblo in 1980s Argentina…an engaging, often amusing portrait of a community on the cusp of change….” -Variety

Sergio Teubal’s hilarious satire proves its capacity for both belly laughs and observant political barbs.” -Wines of Argentina

Not many political elections involve a severed finger in a jar, but then, this is not your typical election. Far from the debates and attack ads of Romney and Obama’s current race—but still based on actual events—Sergio Teubal’s THE FINGER concerns a moody shopkeeper bent on ensuring his brother’s mayoral victory, even after the beloved candidate turns up dead just weeks before the election. A guaranteed charmer, this dramatic comedy spins a tale of mystery, village life, revenge, and leadership, suggesting that sometimes a dismembered digit can point the way to a better future than an actual, living candidate!

Programmers and curators: View the 2012 lineup now on Vimeo or Festival Scope and email us at to schedule the films today!

Film fans and enthusiasts: Read the list below and click on the map to find out where you can catch these fantastic films!

Continue reading NOW PLAYING: Let THE FINGER Point You Toward Global Lens!