OPEN MIC: An Antidote to Lost Opportunities

Alejandro A. Riera, of the Chicago Latino Film Festival, on giving Latin American cinema the respect it deserves, and working with GFI to bring new Global Lens films to the Windy City

As we celebrate our third year with GFI, Global Lens Series Manager Jeremy Quist asked me to reflect on the state of Latin American film distribution in the United States. And the more I thought about the subject, I found myself asking: When will Latin American cinema get the respect it deserves?

Yes, our cinema has an illustrious history that dates back to the silent era and includes such high points as the Golden Age of Mexican Cinema; the rise of Brazil’s Cinema Novo movement in the 50s and 60s; the emergence of post-Revolutionary Cuban cinema in the 60s and 70s; and, more recently, what some critics describe as the “New Argentinean Cinema.” And yet, even when countries such as Ecuador, Bolivia and Venezuela — not exactly film production powerhouses — are coming out with powerfully moving visual narratives, Latin America cinema keeps getting short shrift by media, critics and film distributors alike in this country, even though the growth of the Latino population outpaced any and all estimates.

Case in point: Miss Bala, Gerardo Naranjo’s extraordinary film about a beauty pageant contestant who unwittingly

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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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INTERVIEW: Gustavo Pizzi on Honing a CRAFT

Brazilian director Gustavo Pizzi speaks to Rob Avila about collaborating with wife and lead actress, Karine Teles, to bring his first feature film to the screen…

Brazilian director Gustavo Pizzi’s mesmerizing first feature, CRAFT, explores a brief but important period in the life of an aspiring actress named Bianca (played memorably by co-screenwriter and the director’s wife, Karine Teles). While the story pivots on a career-changing opportunity handed the talented but long-struggling Bianca, CRAFT is just as concerned with the daily travails, compromises, and boredom faced by a working-class female artist in the bustling, sometimes unsparing metropolis of Rio de Janeiro. Teles’s brilliant performance and the film’s ingenious use of varying formats and perspectives offers the audience access to the private perspectives, creative energies, and emotional landscape of its subject. We glimpse a human being trying to strike some balance with a world too ready to reduce her to an “extra” of one kind or another, and an artist resolved to pursue her passion despite hardships and setbacks.

Gustavo Pizzi is a young-looking man in his early 30s with a warm and thoughtful disposition. He was sporting a dark beard and thick-framed glasses when I met him in the crowded bar-lounge tucked into the spacious lobby of the Roosevelt Hotel in Manhattan, ahead of CRAFT’s premiere at the Museum of Modern Art last January. We ordered coffee and waxed on for a few moments about the

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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

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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!

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Global Lens 2012 @ MoMA and Beyond!

This year’s launch in New York set our universe in motion thanks to a host of filmmakers, friends and more than a little help from MoMA and a one-man army…

Angelica in the Stars

Angelica Dongallo, Acquisitions & Granting Dynamo, kicks-off Global Lens 2012 amongst the stars

 

What can we say–it was spectacular. And for as much as we’d really like to tell you about the launch of Global Lens 2012 in New York, pictures do the job so much better. The stars were out and in alignment, and the year began with a big bang, cosmic kismet and maybe even a few good parties–see for yourself!

Next stop: everywhere. Global Lens 2012 will be playing all across the U.S. and Canada, from Palm Springs to Boston, Latin Wave in Houston and Vue d’Afrique in Montreal–check our calendar!

A special thanks to Jytte Jensen, Curator, and Clay Farland, at the MoMA Department of Film; Consul General M. Levent Bilgen, Consul Ismet Erikan and the Turkish Consulate General of New York; Robert Avila; Gary Ponzo; Gianfranco Sorrentino and our friends at Gattopardo; Carlos Gutierrez; Tom Vick at the Smithsonian Institution; Engin “One-Man Army” Yeniduniya; and Global Lens 2012 directors Bujar Alimani, Tolga Karacelik, Carlos Osuna, Gustavo Pizzi, and Oday Rasheed–none of this would’ve been possible without you.

 

 

 

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OPEN MIC: Made in Brazil

GFI intern Julianne Quimby talks about CRAFT, THE TENANTS and why there’s more to Brazil than samba and sandy beaches

Julianne in Copacabana

After returning from a year spent studying language and culture abroad in Brazil, I was frequently asked a question I found surprisingly challenging: “How was your trip?” Brazil is a diverse country characterized by complex intersections of history, politics, and religion and therefore not easily summarized. In addition, I found my descriptions clashed with the misconceptions of Brazil listeners already held. Americans—and global audiences in general—only have access to Brazilian culture through select avenues. Sensationalized news stories reporting on Rio’s violent crime, “The Girl from Ipanema,” national soccer victories, and the occasional film that’s lucky enough to make it to our shores leave Americans with a clichéd and misinformed perception of what Brazilian society is actually like. My brief experience in Brazil was enough to make it painfully obvious that Americans’ experiences with Brazilian culture through popular music and film aren’t painting a satisfactory picture of the country and its people.

However, while working at GFI, I’ve had the opportunity to watch CRAFT and THE TENANTS, two Brazilian productions from the Global Lens film series (2012 and 2011, respectively). Not only do these films display original storylines and distinctive cinematographic styles (setting them apart from other independent

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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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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.

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