GFI @ the Sierra Leone International Film Festival

How a chance encounter turned into an uncommon opportunity to support Sierra Leone’s first-ever international film festival

We’ve always invested in Africa. Grants. Film exhibitions. Time. It’s been one of the many beating hearts, since our founding, that has kept the Global Lens film series, and the Initiative, alive.

A few months ago, outside a very crowded bar in San Francisco, Kieran Ridge, advisory board member of the Palo Alto Film Festival—one of our newest partners—had the insight to introduce us to someone with a very similar commitment to Africa: Banker White, of WeOwnTV. You may recognize the name, as a few years ago, Banker directed a documentary about a music innovation in Freetown called the Sierra Leone Refugee All Stars.

Continue reading GFI @ the Sierra Leone International Film Festival

FESTIVALS & AWARDS: Sofia IFF, Festivalissimo, SAFTAs, Berlin IFF and more!

BEAUTY shines at the South African Film and Television Awards, THE BODA BODA THIEVES nabs the top pitching prize in Berlin, and more great news about Global Lens films and GFI grant recipients!

Producers James Tayler and Sarah Muhoho (THE BODA BODA THIEVES, dir. Donald Mugisha, Uganda) at the Berlin International Film Festival! Photo: bizcommunity.com.

The past few weeks have been nothing short of spectacular for Global Lens films and GFI grantees, and we’re very proud to announce the latest scoop!

First, news about GFI grantees:

BEAUTY (dir. Oliver Hermanus, South Africa, 2010 grant recipient) was awarded Best Director and Best Actor at the South African Film and Television Awards!

Continue reading FESTIVALS & AWARDS: Sofia IFF, Festivalissimo, SAFTAs, Berlin IFF and more!

Behind the Curtain and After the Final Cut

Go beneath the surface to get the back-story on the films of Global Lens 2012

Click here to learn more about Kivu Ruhorahoza and GREY MATTER, the first narrative feature film produced in Rwanda by a native Rwandan filmmaker

Anyone familiar with the entertainment industry knows that sometimes off-screen activities can overshadow what’s happening in the films themselves. Take, for example, Lars von Trier’s controversy at Cannes last year or the preoccupation with Lindsay Lohan’s after-hours adventures. It’s easy to see why people like having this insider knowledge, but not all of it is scandalous—in fact, hearing the stories and secrets behind this year’s Global Lens films prove that there can be substance behind the curtain and after the final cut.

For example, Kivu Ruhorahoza’s GREY MATTER is about a young Rwandan filmmaker struggling to create a film that might help him reconcile the trauma of genocide. In reality, Kivu was only 12 years old during the 1994 Rwandan genocide and lived in constant fear for his family’s welfare. At the age of 16, he set out to become a filmmaker in a country with scarcely a tripod or sound equipment suitable for his camera. Needless to say, GREY MATTER’s story line of someone battling the odds to make a tough film is a direct expression of his artistic path

Continue reading Behind the Curtain and After the Final Cut

GLOBAL LENS 2012: Meet the Directors

A long-haired rocker seeking acceptance, an adult returning to the beaches of her childhood and an artist looking for the meaning in monotony are just a few of the minds behind this year’s series…

From left: Gustavo Pizzi (CRAFT, Brazil) and Tolga Karacelik (TOLL BOOTH, Turkey) at the Global Lens 2012 premiere in New York

Every person has a voice. Every voice tells a story. Every story reveals a world.

The Global Lens series trailer opens with these 15 words, and they really do sum up why we’re here. We work with film, but more importantly, we work with people. And by using film to give life to their stories, these people have become the living, breathing embodiment of Global Lens.

With this in mind, we’d like to introduce you to the brilliant filmmakers behind the Global Lens 2012 series, and let them explain the concept, creation & message of their work for themselves.

Sharing these stories is what we’re all about, and the reason why, after all these years, the words of the Global Lens trailer still ring true.

Ladies and gentlemen, here they are, the directors of Global Lens 2012!

Continue reading GLOBAL LENS 2012: Meet the Directors

NOW PLAYING: Global Lens on Festival Scope

Programmers, curators and more–preview our 2012 lineup on Festival Scope!

Every January, just around the time we launch a new season of Global Lens, we get hit with multiple requests from curators and programmers for screening copies of our films. And we love it. The only problem: we can’t always keep up with the demand, especially when those films are making news (i.e. MOURNING, THE PRIZE, PEGASUS, AMNESTY…)

MOURNING (dir. Morteza Farshbaf, Iran) now available on Festival Scope

So, woe is us, such an exquisite difficulty and what’s a boutique nonprofit film organization supposed to do. Or rather, how do we keep the promise made to our filmmakers, of promoting their films to the widest and most geographically diverse audience possible? And how do you get to see Global Lens in your city, festival and theater…

Well, our longtime friend, Alessandro Raja, has an answer: Festival Scope

Festival Scope is our newest promotional partner for Global Lens. Launched in 2010 by Alessandro (formerly of Celluloid Dreams), it’s an online film viewing resource created exclusively for industry professionals who want to review films, immediately, from the wonderful world of festivals. Dubai, Busan, Torino, Toronto–name it and you’ll likely find it on Festival Scope.

Continue reading NOW PLAYING: Global Lens on Festival Scope

Global Lens 2012 @ MoMA!

Our ninth season opens January 12th in New York with the director, cast and crew of TOLL BOOTH

The new year is just a few weeks away, and with it comes launch of Global Lens 2012 at the Museum of Modern Art, January 12th-28th! The presentation, as many of you know, is part of our annual and ongoing collaboration with the Museum, and is organized by Jytte Jensen, Senior Curator in MoMA’s Department of Film. And what can we say except…

It’s one of our best series yet. Global Lens 2012 includes GREY MATTER, the first narrative feature film produced in Rwanda by a native Rwandan filmmaker; the oh-so-lovable Farfan, star of FAT, BALD SHORT MAN (the first-ever rotoscope feature for Global Lens); and top picks from Pusan, FESPACO, Morelia and Guadalajara international film festivals (and, not to mention, Albania’s official submission to the Oscars: AMNESTY).

Continue reading Global Lens 2012 @ MoMA!

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…]

WEEK IN REVIEW: Saving Birds and Soaking it up in San Sebastian

We’re gearing up for the busiest season of the year here at GFI, with final decisions being made for the Global Lens 2012 lineup, grant applications under review and continuing DVD releases and Global Lens screenings.

In the midst of all this, it seems that each day brings more great news, important events and unexpected surprises. Here’s what we’ve been up to lately, and what’s in store for the near future:

GFI messenger bag

"Look for the yellow bag!" (Our calling card at festivals)

WHEN IN SPAIN: GFI Founder and Board Chair Susan Weeks Coulter traveled to the San Sebastián International Film Festival, where she met with filmmakers from around the world, saw a few unreleased and extremely impressive new projects, and made some new friends—most memorably after missing the last bus and getting stranded in the rain!

Gaston Kabore

Gaston Kabore

A VISIT TO REMEMBER: We’re very excited about Gaston Kabore’s visit during the Mill Valley Film Festival (Oct. 6-16)! The festival features a tribute to the Burkinabe filmmaker and GFI Film Board member, as well as a screening of Kabore’s Buud Yam

Continue reading WEEK IN REVIEW: Saving Birds and Soaking it up in San Sebastian

NEW ON DVD: MASQUERADES and SHIRLEY ADAMS!

MASQUERADES from Algeria and SHIRLEY ADAMS from South Africa available today!

We’re pleased to announce the DVD release of two new films from the Global Lens film series:

DVD coverMASQUERADES (MASCARADES) Dir. Lyes Salem Algeria, 2008, 92 minutes Arabic, with subtitles in English In a dusty Algerian village, a well-intentioned fib suddenly turns a gardener into a mogul, forcing him to choose between the happiness of his narcoleptic sister and his newfound celebrity; Official Algeria Submission for Best Foreign Language Film, 81st Academy Awards; FIPRESCI Prize at the Dubai International Film Festival.

A smart, expertly made crowd-pleaser. Masterfully sure of what it sets out to accomplish–and wise enough never to take itself too seriously.” -SF360

Undoubtedly, Masquerades markes Salem out as a talent we’ll certainly be seeing more of–and if his next work is as genial as this, the pleasure will be all ours.” -Screen Daily

For more information, visit: http://catalogue.globalfilm.org/masquerades.html

DVD coverSHIRLEY ADAMS Dir. Oliver Hermanus South Africa, 2009, 92 minutes Engish and Afrikaans, with subtitles in English In the depressed Cape Town neighborhood of Cape Flats, a single mother contemplates her fate and cautiously accepts the help of an overeager social worker as she struggles to care for her paraplegic and suicidal son; Best Director and Best Actress at the South

Continue reading NEW ON DVD: MASQUERADES and SHIRLEY ADAMS!

SHIRLEY ADAMS: The Making Of

Denise Newman and friends take us into the mind, method and man behind SHIRLEY ADAMS

This month we release Oliver Hermanus’s Cape Town ode, SHIRLEY ADAMS, on home video. As most of you know, this is Oliver’s first film and was followed by SKOONHEID–a work supported by the Global Film Initiative, currently taking top honors at festivals worldwide. Of course, we take no credit for the intimate and ideological worlds portrayed in Oliver’s films, as these are brought to life through the skill of actors, such as Denise Newman (in the titular role of Shirley Adams). Below is a conversation with this award-winning actor and other cast members on the making of a masterpiece.