FEATURE: 3 on 1: Frequent Flyer Benefits

It's the most, wonderful, time of the year.

Global Lens Series Manager Jeremy Quist and Marketing & Publicity Manager Hilary Lawson share their experiences on the road, while a special guest weighs in on American cinema from an international perspective…

Traveling. Around this time of year, it tends to get a bad rap. Everyone can relate to long lines, the affects of jet lag and the questionable quality of airplane food. However, in all the groaning and moaning, the bigger picture of why we travel in the first place can get lost. After all, what’s a bit of a stiff neck in comparison to the joy of visiting friends and family, getting a change of scenery, and adding new people and experiences to your life?

Admittedly, this might be easier for us to say, as the GFI staff has recently returned from some unforgettable trips. Santhosh Daniel (Director of Programs) attended the 16th Busan International Film Festival, Hilary Lawson (Marketing & Publicity Manager) traveled to the 52nd Thessaloniki International Film Festival, Jeremy Quist (Global Lens Series Manager) was invited as an honorary special guest for the premiere of Global Lens 2011 at the University of Texas Pan-American, and Angelica Dongallo (Distribution & Granting Coordinator) just returned from the International Film Festival of India!

Traveling allows us to meet people we might never come in contact with and expand our close-knit network of like-minded people. (We also meet people who aren’t as like-minded, which we can appreciate as well—after all, looking at the world through a global lens means that some views are opposing, and that’s what makes the picture complete!)

For this month’s 3 on 1 column, Hilary and Jeremy share their experiences on the road, and in an exciting new spin, we’ve added a video from a special guest to round out the conversation. We hope you enjoy, and during this busy travel season, let’s try to remember Henry Miller’s motto: “One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.”

Hilary Lawson, Marketing & Publicity Manager:

Hilary Lawson: GFI Presentation

Hilary Lawson during the Global Film Initiative presentation at the Thessaloniki International Film Festival

I was very honored and excited to attend the 52nd Thessaloniki International Film Festival on the northern coast of Greece. We were invited to participate in the Agora Market and Crossroads Co-Production Forum, and I was also asked to give a presentation about the Global Film Initiative’s Granting and Distribution Programs. All in all, it was a great chance to network and meet with filmmakers, producers, sales agents and regional representatives, tell them more about what we do, and see some new and exciting films in the process.

Hilary Lawson with Engin and Tolga, Toll Booth

Hilary with Engin Yenidunya and Tolga Karacelik, Producer and Writer/Director of TOLL BOOTH, In Competition at the festival and soon to premiere as part of Global Lens 2012!

Anyone who has attended an international film festival as an industry participant can relate to the rigorous schedule (let’s just say I couldn’t have done it without coffee, and because of my location, copious amounts of feta cheese and olives). However, the entire week had me on an adrenaline high, and the energetic responses I received when telling others about GFI made it clear that what we do is important, and moreover, essential.

By meeting people in person, I was able to form relationships that transcended emails, contracts and business cards. Instead of simply hearing a filmmaker pitch her film, I learned about her family’s business—the only brewery in Palestine. One minute I was talking about a recent business deal with one of our distribution partners, the next we were marveling at his 3-year-old son’s ability to manipulate an iPad. There’s something about these kinds of conversations—in creating a natural affinity, it also cements the professional relationships we make, and makes them last.

Perhaps the best part is, with each person that learns about us, our capacity for more support grows. The only question is, where to next? 

Jeremy Quist, Global Lens Series Manager:

Jeremy Quist at UTPA

Jeremy with Virginia Haynie Gause (left) and Nadia Gallegos at UTPA's Global Lens 2011 premiere

An excellent question, Hilary, and the truth is that one never really knows. It was a very unexpected treat for me, for instance, to be invited as a special guest at the University of Texas-Pan American’s opening night of their Global Lens 2011 program last month. I was especially appreciative and honored to receive the invitation considering that the wonderful folks over at UTPA, Nadia Gallegos and Virginia Haynie Gause, depleted their “coffee change fund” just to bring me out there! What was most exciting about this opportunity was the chance to actually see how the series was being presented at a specific venue. As the Global Lens Series Manager, I work pretty closely with many different festivals, museums, theaters, and universities that screen our films throughout the year, but until this trip, I had never gotten to go “on location” and observe those screenings first-hand.

Jeremy Quist at the Global Lens 2011 premiere at UTPA

Jeremy Quist at the UPTA premiere of Global Lens 2011

The opening night film was THE WHITE MEADOWS, and I gave an introduction at the kick-off reception, which was covered by the university’s student radio station and television channel, catered with Mediterranean cuisine, and decorated with a giant, inflatable globe as well as Iranian artifacts like those pictured here. Following the screening, I participated on a Q&A panel along with two Iranian-born UTPA instructors. One of them quite disliked the film (“In fact, my son leaned over to me halfway through and said, ‘We missed The Big Bang Theory for this?’”) while the other absolutely loved it (“This is not really a film about Iran, it’s about humanity”). And it was precisely this difference of opinion, which I think all films should spark, that contributed to a wonderful debate and discussion with a very passionate audience.

It was a quick, mellow trip (very unlike Hilary’s adrenaline-fueled week in Greece), but there was a great value in spending time with our screening-partners, visiting the library theater where the films are shown, speaking with students and the community about our project, and getting a feel for the city and campus itself. Because the Global Lens series is not only about watching movies–it’s about building lasting relationships with individuals, organizations, and institutions that have a shared enthusiasm for world cinema and our mission. And in a time where so much of our professional communication occurs via e-mail, it’s extraordinarily useful and rewarding to be able to occasionally have those conversations in person. I only wish it could happen more often.

***

While we try to travel to different places, sometimes we’re lucky enough to have people travel to us. Take, for example, Pavel, who moved to the U.S. from Russia 6 years ago and is currently interning at GFI. We asked Pavel for his perspective on cross-cultural understanding, and he came back to us with this video, which was nothing that we expected and yet everything we’ve been trying to say about the value of multicultural exchange. Naturally, Pavel chose film to convey his message. Without further ado:

 

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