GRANTING: Ten Years to the Day in Global Film Funding

Ten years ago today, GFI announced the recipients of the inaugural granting program, and look at us now…

granting

On April 10, The Global Film Initiative announced it’s most recent grant recipients from the Winter 2012 granting cycle. The list of grantees features 11 works from both emerging and established filmmakers, representing 10 different countries around the world, and each project demonstrates great promise and vision. As Susan Weeks Coulter, Founder and Board Chair, said in the announcement: “We are pleased to identify and support these eleven unique and powerful narratives.”

What makes this granting cycle particularly special, however, is that it is the most recent in GFI’s now decade-old granting program. Ten years ago to the day, the very first round of grantees were announced on May 16, 2003. In celebration of this milestone, we’re taking a look back on the films GFI has funded over the years.

Again and again, our grantees represent filmmakers who are not afraid to challenge convention–to make sometimes dangerous, but always fiercely truthful statements about the society, and the world, that reflect them. These films often represent new perspectives and voices in storytelling–voices which are too often silenced or misrepresented in the mainstream–and hold promise in heralding a new generation of filmmakers.

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FESTIVALS & AWARDS: Miami IFF, FESPACO, Guadalajara IFF, Berlinale Awards and more!

The forecast is sunny for BEIJING FLICKERS (China), NO AUTUMN, NO SPRING (Ecuador) and SO MUCH WATER (Uruguay) @ Miami!

Just two months into 2013 and already a number of GFI grant recipients and Global Lens films have been stirring up international hype from Berlin to Burkina Faso. Here’s the scoop:

GFI grant recipient NO AUTUMN, NO SPRING (Ecuador) screens in Cartagena and Miami International Film Festivals!

GFI grant recipient NO AUTUMN, NO SPRING (Ecuador) screens in Cartagena and Miami International Film Festivals!

BERLIN INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: Annemarie Jacir’s WHEN I SAW YOU (Palestine/Jordan, Summer 2011 honorable mention) took home the NETPAC award from Berlinale! The jury noted after its unanimous vote: “We were all impressed by the film’s distinctive narrative perspective: that of conveying the longing for freedom of an oppressed people in an era when idealism, solidarity and justice still had meaning…” Read on, here!

CARTAGENA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: SO MUCH WATER (dir. Ana Guevara and Leticia Jorge, Uruguay, Summer 2012 honorable mention), following its premiere at the Berlin International Film Festival, won the FIPRESCI Prize after receiving waves of screen time at the Cartagena International Film Festival (FICCI)! The film continues on to several other renowned festivals (see

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NEWS: Global Lens 2013 @ MoMA!

Global Lens 2013: Change the Way You See the World

Our tenth anniversary opens with China’s Sixth Generation, Sebastián Silva, the biggest film you’ve ever seen from Brazil (literally), and a host of Global Lens alumnus.…

It’s our tenth year and we’re kicking off Global Lens 2013, January 10th-26th, with ten films at the Museum of Modern Art! It’s going to be some celebration…

BEIJING FLICKERS will open the series on January 10th with a week-run at MoMA and director Zhang Yuan and actor Li Xinjun in attendance, to launch the festivities (a must see: Zhang is the acclaimed director of Beijing Bastards, and part of the gritty Sixth Generation ethos—who in the ‘90s, pushed Chinese filmmaking out of an overly-romanticized lens into the alter-reality of its edgy, urban psyche).

Also in New York for the GL13 opening: Suman Ghosh for the North American premiere of SHYAMAL UNCLE TURNS OFF THE LIGHTS, on January 11th. This film is something to indeed be experienced with the director, as he runs his fingers through the tangled hair of Kolkata’s bureaucracy; an inspired and insightful work that carries a subtle charm, similar to another Global Lens standout.

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OPEN MIC: James and the BUNNY CHOW

A scene from BUNNY CHOW by dir. John Barker

“What was that about?” asks GFI’s James Stowe as he explores the makings of the titular dish in our South African romp, BUNNY CHOW….

Have you ever seen a Global Lens film and wondered, “Hey, what is this custom or practice that seems fairly common to the characters but is completely foreign to me?” Every now and then, this happens to me. As someone who’s never had the opportunity to travel outside of the US, I tend to notice things in films that might have gotten lost in translation for someone unfamiliar with the cultural background of the film.

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GRANTING: GFI Announces Summer 2012 Grant Recipients!

GFI’s newest grant recipients include four projects directed by women, and GFI’s first grants to the Dominican Republic, Guinea-Bissau and Serbia!

(Watch the video to view some production footage of new GFI grant recipient COLORED LIKE THE NIGHT (Dominican Republic)!)

Hear ye, hear ye: Today GFI announced the ten feature length narrative film projects selected to receive production funding in its Granting Program‘s Summer 2012 granting cycle (read the official press release here)! ­­­­

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NEWS: HOLLOW CITY Leads “Unaccompanied Minors” Exhibit at MoMA

From the Global Lens Collection and MoMA’s Department of Film comes Global Lens filmmaker Maria Joao Ganga’s powerful exploration of innocence and Angola…

We’re very pleased to announce that one of our most favorite curators, and educators, Anne Morra, at the Museum of Modern Art’s Department of Film, has put together a spectacular new film exhibit titled Unaccompanied Minors: From Feeding the Bay to the Hollow City, to run July 22nd-August 14th, in tandem with the Museum’s Century of the Child: Growing by Design, 1900–2000 gallery exhibit. Thirty-one short- and feature-length films are included the exhibit, at the exhibit’s core is Global Lens Collection film HOLLOW CITY :

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SUPPORT: Change the Way You See the World

Because in an empathic civilization, ‘monkey see, monkey do’ isn’t such a bad thing

Empathic Civilization

WATCH: The Empathic Civilization (courtesy of RSA Animate and Jonathan Rifkin)

Not long ago, Emma Rae Lierley, Administrative Coordinator at GFI, sent me a link to a video on “The Empathic Civilization” (right). Her rationale in sending it was that she felt it encapsulated the basic premise upon which Global Lens was founded: that in our most sympathetic state of human existence, we are all connected.

Of course, nowadays, we hear such things all the time. Technological evolution has certainly connected us with the world outside our physical boundaries. Intellectual curiosity has always found a way to merge minds above borders. And then, without doubt, there is religion.

All are valid points of connection, connectivity. But the video makes a much more basic point. It says that we, as humans, are predisposed to having shared feelings and emotions, or an “empathic” relationship with one another that intuitively draws us together, as a people (see the video’s example of ‘monkey see, monkey do’).

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GRANTING: GFI’s Winter 2012 Grantees Announced!

Newest grant recipients include five narrative feature film debuts from Albania, Georgia, Rwanda, Venezuela and Turkey! View the trailer of GFI 2012 grant recipient, THE PARDON!

The decisions are in.

We are very pleased to announce that after much deliberation, ten new films have been chosen to receive production funding of up to $10,000 each during the Winter 2012 granting cycle! The grant recipients hail from diverse nations and regions—from Peru’s mountainous countryside to the Philippines’ sandy shores—and include GFI’s first grantees from Croatia, Rwanda and Venezuela! Read the official press release here.

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SUPPORT: E Pluribus Unum

Thousands of stories in the evolution of one world

Nigerian writer Chimanda Ngozi Adichie and the Danger of the Single Story

In just a few days, we’ll be announcing our Winter 2012 grantees–ten films by ten filmmakers that, coincidentally, mark our tenth year of grantmaking.

It’s a significant milestone, and an auspicious occasion. And like all granting cycles, it affords a moment to reflect on the statement we’re making. Because in awarding these grants, we are of course saying that of the hundreds of projects we reviewed, these ten are “the best”… But are they?

A few years ago, Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie gave a TEDtalk about the “danger of the single story.” Her essential point was that no one story, no singular history or perspective, is the only story—and believing otherwise is what leads to the inability of many people to be sympathetic, if not empathetic, toward other cultures.

It’s a simple and true analysis, most people do tend to only hear the story that’s within earshot—whether that comes from their government, history, religion, family or community. And it’s a sentiment that often echoes in mind, especially when we award grants to filmmakers or, choose films for Global Lens: Are we telling a single story?

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GRANTING: Victor Viyuoh, from Here to Eternity  

GFI grantee Victor Viyuoh conquers uncountable production delays, three crashed vans and one successful Kickstarter campaign to live up to the title he earned nearly ten years ago

Photo: Film Independent

In 2003, Victor Viyuoh, a young director born and raised in Cameroon, was named one of Filmmaker Magazine’s 25 New Faces of Indie Film. He had just completed his first short film, MBOUTOUKOU, which premiered at the Venice Film Festival, screened at the International Film Festival Rotterdam and received a Competition Award for best narrative short at the SXSW Film Festival.

It sounded like the beginning of a steadily rising career, but early success didn’t mean Victor would be free of setbacks—far from it, in fact. Between shipping misadventures, unfortunate climate changes and uncanny bad luck with production vehicles, the filming of his first feature, NINAH’S DOWRY, seemed doomed to begin with (Victor’s account of the process is the stuff nightmares are made of).

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