Meet & Frite

GFI Founder and Board Chair Susan Weeks Coulter recounts the sights, sounds (and tastes) of the 41st International Film Festival Rotterdam

Susan with the famous GFI bag–and frites!–in hand at IFFR 2012

The 9-hours-ahead time change left me with the very worst jet-lag—I found myself laying wide awake in my hotel room at 3am, humming “We Shall Overcome” in hopes that perhaps by the third verse, I might doze off.

But the quiet time did allow for a period of reflection about Holland, the Rotterdam International Film Festival, Hubert Bals Fund, and of course, the Dutch people. For those of you new to The Global Film Initiative, it was actually the Hubert Bals people who jump-started our organization back in 2003.

Noah Cowan and I had been wrestling with not only the idea of what we wanted to do in showcasing film from emerging countries/film industries, but we were perplexed at how to structure such an organization. Noah met up with Simon Field who was, at the time, heading up the Hubert Bals efforts, and explained what we wanted to do in the U.S. With Simon’s encouragement, open-mindedness, and welcome, the Global Film Initiative had found an organization “structure” that we felt

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SUPPORT: ‘Tis the Season of Change

Bucking convention and breaking new ground with our filmmakers…

An indelible image from AMNESTY provides the backdrop for Global Lens 2012

Years ago, one of my grade school teachers said ‘if you do nothing at all in life, at least be original.’ Of course, nowadays, that sentiment is something of a cliché. But back in the days of psychedelia and Sesame Street, it had gravitas. And, truth be told, it has guided some of my ambitions, and is what eventually drew me to the Global Film Initiative…

There are only a few days left in this year, and as we look forward to 2012 and the Initiative’s tenth anniversary, we also look back at the preceding 3500+ days and some of the more original things we’ve done. Community programs, educational initiatives, and a very unique form of business and social enterprise–to name a few. And then, Global Lens, our sterling accomplishment.

But nothing occurs in a vacuum, and we can hardly take credit for all that has happened. And thus, rather than talking about our accomplishments, in the spirit of holiday we’d instead like to thank each of our directors, and friends in the industry, for their very original gifts that comprise the soon-to-be-launched new season of Global Lens:

- To Bujar Alimani, director of AMNESTY, and M-Appeal:

A beautiful

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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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“Basquing” in the Ambiance of Donostia

Reliving the days and nights of the San Sebastián International Film Festival

Pintxos

San Francisco -> Paris -> Bilbao -> San Sebastián is a trip that takes about 15 hours, if everything goes smoothly. Unfortunately, if the first leg is delayed for any reason (it was) just add another 6 hours in the airport waiting room and make that trek a 21-hour marathon!

San Sebastián, a.k.a. Donostia, is a mid-sized human-scale city on the Basque Coast of Spain; a “beach town” with two pristine semi-circular beaches (playas) divided by the Urumea River that snakes its way through town, dividing the old city from the new.

Cocktails, San Sebastian style

Drinking white wine and eating pintxos (peen-choz) for lunch seems to be an inalienable worker’s right. Evening time (8pm-onward) brings the red wine and tapas that are often balanced on the top of a wine glass. Admittedly, I am not a “foodie” but I ate and drank more than my fair share of these terrific little concoctions.

Overall, a pretty city, terrific food, and a well-organized festival!

Susan Weeks Coulter attended the 59th San Sebastián International Film Festival (Cinema in Motion and Films in Progress),

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Fruits of Labor: Oliver Hermanus and Leila Kilani Take Center-stage @ Cannes 2011

… And GFI’s native son, Alejandro Chomski, director of ASLEEP IN THE SUN, visits San Francisco

Oliver Hermanus

Two years ago, Jeremy Nathan at Dv8 directed our attention to a new talent from South Africa: Oliver Hermanus. According to Jeremy, Oliver was a young filmmaker with an unusual lens, and his work was certainly “going to be a surprise.” Of course, in the world of cinema, hyperbole is common…

But he was right. In summer 2009, Oliver’s first film about a mixed race family in Cape Town—SHIRLEY ADAMS—so profoundly caught our attention that we acquired its North American rights and, a few months later, released it as part of Global Lens 2010 with a U.S. premiere at MoMA.

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