SPOTLIGHT: A Natural Fit in Champaign-Urbana

Karen Hewitt at University of Illinois’s Center for Global Studies on the importance of bringing a “Global Lens” to campus…

Ann Rasmus, Art @ the Y Program Director, University YMCA (left) and Karen Hewitt, Outreach Coordinator, Center for Global Studies, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

2012 marks the fourth consecutive year that Global Lens has been showcased at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, organized by Karen Hewitt, Outreach Coordinator for the University’s Center for Global Studies. From the very beginning, it was clear that the venue was a natural fit for the film series, and every subsequent year has continued to demonstrate this. We recently touched base with Karen to ask some questions about the Center for Global Studies and the role of Global Lens in her community.

Karen, we first spoke in June 2009 when I approached you about working with the Center for Global Studies to bring the Global Lens film series to the University of Illinois. Had the Center ever sponsored any film screenings previously?

The Center for Global Studies is a National Resource Center for International and Area Studies funded by a Title VI grant through the US Department of Education. One of the primary purposes of these grants is training in “Less Commonly Taught Languages.” In the past, we have co-sponsored film series organized

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INTERVIEW: Capturing a Country in Transition

AMNESTY director Bujar Alimani, discusses the role of the artist in Alabania.

Painter-turned-filmmaker Bujar Alimani sat down with Rob Avila to talk about AMNESTY and Albania on the cusp of a new era…

Albanian filmmaker Bujar Alimani was born in the southwestern city of Patos, the center of Albania’s oil industry, in 1969. He trained as a painter and a stage director at the Academy of Fine Arts in Albania’s capital Tirana, before emigrating to Greece at the age of 19 and turning to filmmaking. After making three award-winning and internationally popular short films, he completed feature-length drama AMNESTY—a gorgeously lensed and finely acted story of doomed love set against a backdrop of social change in his native Albania. It won the Berlin International Film Festival’s C.I.C.A.E. Award in 2011 and was Albania’s official submission for Best Foreign Language Film at the 84th Academy Awards. AMNESTY is currently being screened throughout the United States and Canada as part of the Global Film Initiative’s Global Lens 2012 film series.

I met Alimani on a brisk afternoon this past January in New York, a serious-looking man of solid build, with short-cropped black hair and a friendly, thoughtful demeanor. He cut a stoical figure as we sat in the bustling lobby of the Roosevelt Hotel in Midtown Manhattan, not far from the Museum of Modern Art where AMNESTY was making its

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SUPPORT: Live and Learn

Soul of Sand

A Serious Slice of Life: SOUL OF SAND (Global Lens Collection)

Interpreting an education via the sights, sound and sensibilities of daily life

“Summertime and the livin’ is easy”–isn’t that what Ella said? Days become longer, lazier. Clothes are looser. Planets hang low on the horizon, just above sunset…

I think it’s safe to say most people enjoy summer. And I’m no exception. For me, the ‘easy livin’ represents a better classroom, a time to take the world in, without rush; certainly that’s what happens at the Global Film Initiative, when we spend countless twilights, reviewing hundreds of films and scripts, to determine our next season of Global Lens and grant-recipients.

But work aside, summer does really seem to represent a time to pause. Schools are out, and most governments are not in session. And if I think back to childhood–and my annual, transcontinental summer experiment of living in India and Malaysia, courtesy of my parents–I certainly learned just as much from that season as I did in school…

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INTERVIEW: Tolga Karaçelik on A Sincere Work

Rob Avila talks with Tolga Karaçelik about capturing the right chemical reaction on the set and on the screen in TOLL BOOTH…

Tolga Karçelik on the set of the Global Lens 2012 film Toll Booth

TOLL BOOTH, the first Turkish film to receive a weeklong premiere at the New York Museum of Modern Art, is the debut feature of 31-year-old Istanbul native Tolga Karaçelik. It concerns the life and progressive collapse of a tollbooth attendant and bachelor named Kenan (played by the marvelous Serkan Ercan). A poet by longstanding practice and inclination, with a quick mind and generous spirit, Karaçelik studied law before coming to New York City to study filmmaking. It was back in New York, at the MoMA in January, that he sat down to talk about the genesis of his award-winning Toll Booth, the opening night film of the Global Film Initiative’s 2012 Global Lens series.

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SUPPORT: Living Up To Our Name

mick

The Science of Inertia: don't get him started (photo: Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones)

Looking down the rabbit hole at the genesis of “initiative,” global film and making a difference…

Ever since I was a child, I’ve loved science. The systematic study of structure. Atoms crowding on the head of a pin. Discovery…

As an adult, I haven’t lost this love–ironically, it’s what led me to a career in the arts and The Global Film Initiative. Because I’ve always been fascinated by the [scientific] concepts of “inertia” and “potential energy” (that everything around us is simultaneously resisting change and has the potential to change), and how those concepts apply themselves in other elements of our world…

A stone rolls once pushed. Still water ripples when hit with a stone. Mick Jagger–if you start him up he’ll never stop. All that needs to occur is a decision to act. All that’s required to change a state of inertia or release potential energy is someone or something with… Initiative.

The Global Film Initiative began with this in mind, and it’s this guiding precept that has kept us inspired by what we do. The world around us evolves slowly, imperceptibly or sometimes not at all. But regardless, it is always ready for change. And once that change occurs it can repeat itself like rolling thunder…

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Lovely MISS LOVELY!

On the eve of its world premiere, Pardon My Hindi gives Un Certain Regard star MISS LOVELY a seductive new look for the red carpet at Cannes….

<– You saw it here—first! Designer Chiraag Bhakta’s cheeky-cum-risque rendering of Ashim Ahluwalia’s much-anticipated second feature, MISS LOVELY, just before it hits the fabled French Riviera at Cannes.

We can’t tell you where to get the poster, because it’s only a few hours old. But, we can show you a trailer for MISS LOVELY–because who doesn’t love a film about the Bollywood underground (certainly, we do—see credits).

As for Chiraag, some of you may remember him as the graphic hand behind GFI’s education experiment site, Bluescreen. And the rest of you might know him as iconic eye behind Pardon My Hindi (which words can’t describe—so visit the site).

And as for Cannes… You know who’s got our vote.

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Pat Guerra Joins the Global Film Initiative

Introducing GFI’s new Director of Business Development, and the 2.0 of the Global Film Initiative…

Pat Guerra, GFI Director of Business Development

It’s spring, Global Lens is in full bloom, and GFI is growing a new root: Pat Guerra, Director of Business Development.

Pat joins the current band of genius in our San Francisco office, and brings with him a depth and diversity in social enterprise and operations management, and a generous helping of that entrepreneurial spirit we love so much at the Initiative (he is a current member of the venture investment organization, Band of Angels, and also co-founder of the Global Social Benefit Incubator at Santa Clara University–created to help socially-minded entrepreneurs, worldwide, build sustainable, scalable organizations).

The addition of Pat to our staff couldn’t come at a better time, as 2012 is the Global Film Initiative’s tenth anniversary and the year in which we make some interesting, evolutionary changes. So, look for a new website this fall, and before that time, a few new partners–both within the film industry, and nationally and internationally. Also, keep your eye out for an upcoming announcement about Global Lens streaming (Hulu!).

All good changes. And, at the heart of it all, the same Global Film Initiative and Global Lens. Just with a few improvements ;)

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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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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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Deep in the Heart of Texas: Global Lens at the San Antonio Museum of Art!

Okay, everyone, full disclosure here: I’m ashamed to admit it, but I know next to nothing about San Antonio. I know a little bit about the Alamo, sure, but not nearly as much as I should. I know that Carol Burnett and Joan Crawford are both from there, but I learned that just now from the Internets. What I do know quite well, however, is that if you happen to be in San Antonio and you’re looking for the best in world cinema, then you’re in luck. All you have to do is head over to the San Antonio Museum of Art and drop in on a Global Lens 2012 film!

This is the Museum’s first year hosting the series, and we couldn’t be happier to be working with them. Responsible for the collaboration are the delightful Katie Erickson (Director of Education) and the equally delightful Nicole McLeod (Assistant Director of Education) who’s mutual love of movies inspired them to explore different ways of offering film programming at their (beautiful) institution, tailoring the programming to SAMA’s permanent collection. When speaking to her over the phone recently, Katie noted that she and Nicole first became interested in GFI because their collection is encyclopedic in nature — spanning continents and many cultures — and so Global Lens seemed to be a

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