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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NEW ON DVD: The Tenants and Street Days!

Bad boys and bad medicine: Urban thriller THE TENANTS and junkie chronicle STREET DAYS to release on DVD May 15th

The DVD release of new films from playwright-cum-filmmaker Sérgio Bianchi and Georgian auteur Levan Koguashvili take audiences from the neo-noir nights of São Paulo to the mean streets of Tbilisi:

THE TENANTS (OS INQUILINOS), dir. Sérgio Bianchi, Brazil, 2009, 103 minutes, Portuguese, with subtitles in English

After three mysterious men move into a smoky São Paulo suburb, a neighboring couple becomes obsessed with the men’s clandestine activities and the ozone of violence that descends upon their once-tranquil neighborhood. Best Screenplay, Rio de Janeiro International Film Festival; Official Selection, Vancouver International Film Festival.

“Bianchi’s richly detailed film excavates society’s fear of and fascination with violence—from television’s constant stream of near-pornographic mayhem to venomous suspicion between neighbors, petty feuds within married couples, and quarreling among children—in an indictment of the lowest human impulses.” –Museum of Modern Art

“Stunning performances….A tour-de-force of cinematic tension.” –The Santa Barbara Independent

 

STREET DAYS (QUCHIS DGEEBI), dir. Levan Koguashvili, Georgia, 2010, 86 minutes, Georgian, with subtitles in English

A well-meaning heroin addict whose life and status seem to worsen by the day, finds himself caught between serving a prison sentence and selling out

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3 on 1: Adapt, Persevere and Thou Shalt Premiere

Bruno Bettati examines Latin American independents from the angle of producer, festival director and de facto industry historian…

Director of the Valdivia International Film Festival Bruno Bettati (left) and GFI Director of Programs Santhosh Daniel at the 39th International Film Festival Rotterdam

Five years ago I had the serendipity to meet Santhosh Daniel and establish a relationship between the Global Film Initiative and Valdivia International Film Festival (FICValdivia). Over that course of time, our institutions have both witnessed and contributed to the steady rise of the Latin American film industry. GFI eventually became a sponsor of FICValdivia activities for film professionals. Recently we met by chance on a distribution and production workshop while in Gijon, Spain—after which i felt compeled to say a few words about the evolution of Latin American film and our joint contribution to the production and distribution of these films. – Bruno Bettati

Against all odds, Latin American film producers continue to show a vitality to get their movies done. Perseverance and adaptation are key; with 36 months the average time it takes from the start of development until the festival première of a fiction feature film, the endurance of the producer is at permanent stake.

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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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