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.

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People in Film: Annemarie Jacir (via Doha Film Institute)

Annemarie Jacir, director of WHEN I SAW YOU (2011 GFI grantee), talks to the Doha Film Institute about the inspiration and origins of her work

Photo: Doha Film Institute

(via Doha Film Institute) Annemarie Jacir is an acclaimed filmmaker and screenwriter living in Jordan. Two of her films have premiered as official selections at the Cannes Film Festival. Her first feature film, “Salt of this Sea”, was Palestine’s official Oscar entry for Best Foreign Language Film.

Jacir lived in Saudi Arabia until the age of sixteen, and received her formal education in the United States. She began her work in the theatre, writing and directing plays. Her career in cinema began as an editor and camerawoman. She worked in the film industry in Los Angeles before attending Columbia University in New York to obtain a degree in film. She is the co-founder of Philistine Films, an independent production company which focuses on the Arab world. Jacir is also an author and poet. Her poetry and stories have been published in “Mizna”, “The Poetry of Arab Women: A Contemporary Anthology” and the collection “Poets for Palestine”.

She lives in Amman and is currently in postproduction on her new film “When I Saw You”.

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Global Lens Goes Public!

The Brooklyn Public Library

Our public library program is in full swing this spring with the Brooklyn Public Library! San Francisco and Missoula are next, with Memphis and Park City on the horizon…

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: we love public libraries. From their goals of public education and engagement, to the diverse architecture of buildings large and small all across the country—they are cultural icons that hold a physical space in every community, and represent a truly free exchange of ideas that we cherish.

And so, this month, in homage to our ever-growing affinity for public libraries, our friends at the Brooklyn Public Library (BPL) will be presenting our most favorite film series, Global Lens 2012, to audiences in one of New York’s most celebrated boroughs.

Why? Because BPL is one of a handful of lucky institutions invited this year to join our Global Lens Public Library Program, which we launched last year to promote education and cultural literacy in communities all throughout the United States (some of you may remember that we partnered with the Association for Rural and Small Libraries to kick off the program).

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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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Oday Rasheed on the Making of QARANTINA and Remaking Baghdad in Today’s Iraq

Rob Avila and Iraqi director Oday Rasheed discuss the genesis of inspiration against a backdrop of war, politics and filmmaking

Iraqi director Oday Rasheed talks to Rob Avila during the premiere of Global Lens 2012 at MoMA

Oday Rasheed is one of only a small handful of filmmakers working and producing in Iraq today. His first feature, Underexposure (2005), captured the immediate aftermath of the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in a fictional documentary-style story about a Baghdad filmmaker trying to make sense of the tumult of this period. Soon after its debut, Rasheed left the growing sectarian violence in Baghdad for Berlin, where he immersed himself in film studies, gravitating to the works of Andrei Tarkovsky, among others, and eventually developed the script for his second feature, Qarantina. He returned to Baghdad in 2008 to make the film, which was completed in 2010.

Qarantina is one of ten awarding-winning films featured in the Global Lens 2012 series, premiering this January at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). Oday was able to attend his Global Lens screening in New York as part of a short U.S. tour that includes multiple screenings at MoMA, and a presentation of the film at the Council on Foreign Relations on January 25th, and also at the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service on January 30th.

Recently, during the premiere of Global Lens

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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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FEATURE: A Uruguayan in San Francisco

Joanne Parsont, Director of Education at the San Francisco Film Society, on A USEFUL LIFE’S Federico Veiroj as an Artist in Residence (and honorary SF resident)…

From the moment he arrived in San Francisco, Uruguayan filmmaker Federico Veiroj was on the move—and seemingly right at home. As the second participant in the San Francisco Film Society’s new Artist in Residence program (made possible by a grant from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences), Veiroj spent two action-packed weeks in San Francisco in November. While I knew we had a slew of events and activities planned for his time here, I had no idea how much more he would manage to pack into that time himself.

Federico Veiroj and one of his new SF friends

When I picked him up at SFO on the morning of November 10, he had been traveling for more than 21 hours through 4 airports since his departure from Montevideo. I figured I’d drop him off at the house where he’d be staying (graciously hosted by SFFS Board President Pat McBaine and his wife Susie) and let him get some sleep while I went back

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First Time’s a Charm: Global Lens Comes to Iowa!

In October of 2008, my wife and I—along with our 2 cats and everything we owned—drove a Budget rental truck across the country, from New York to San Francisco. We would have loved to have taken our time and done some sightseeing, but we were under a bit of a time constraint, so we pretty much stuck to Interstate 80 during the day, and after the sun went down, finding the closest Super 8 (very highly recommended, and many of them allow cats!). On our second night, we stayed in Peru, IL, before pressing onward the next morning. If, however, we had ended up making our big cross-country move exactly 3 years later, I definitely would have driven the extra 2 hours to ensure that we spent that night in Iowa City so we could catch a Global Lens 2011 film at the University of Iowa’s incredible Bijou Cinema!

All of us here at GFI are particularly excited about the Bijou Cinema hosting the series as it marks the very first time that Global Lens has been shown in the state of Iowa. Thanks to the enthusiasm of the wonderful Christina Buckles (Programming Director and Comparative Literature PhD student) and the Bijou’s dedicated volunteer staff, the University of Iowa’s student-run cinema is bringing Global Lens 2011 to the greater Iowa City community from October 29th to November 10th. The Bijou has

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Global Lens on Virgin America has Everyone Seeing RED™

This month marks the 3rd anniversary of our partnership with Virgin America, and in honor of that special occasion, Santhosh Daniel, our Director of Programs, and Alfy Veretto, Manager of IFE Content and Partnerships, took a few moments during the last days of summer to reflect on where it all began—and where it’s all going.

Below is an excerpt of their conversation, which as you can see, reflects the unique style that has come to typify the GFI-Virgin partnership. It’s been a good time for everyone and for those of you who haven’t yet seen what it’s all about, catch a flight and catch a Global Lens film on Virgin RED™!

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Window to the World: Launching a Foreign Film Series in Edinburg, TX

GFI chats with The University of Texas-Pan American about unique collaborations, persistence, and bringing Global Lens to town

Nadia Gallegos (left) and Virgina Haynie Gause, the people responsible for bringing Global Lens to UTPA!

Sometimes we speak with a venue interested in hosting Global Lens, and everything falls into place relatively quickly and easily—screening facilities are available, marketing support is plentiful, and the schedule practically writes itself. In other instances, however, things don’t come together right away, and instead, it takes some time to actually “make it happen.” This was the case with The University of Texas-Pan American (UTPA), who had been speaking with us off-and-on about organizing a Global Lens program on campus since 2008, but for various reasons, wasn’t able to do so until just this past year.

One of the factors that finally made it possible was the introduction of our Educational Affiliates program in which university and college libraries can purchase a full Global Lens DVD set and then screen those films for public audiences. This option, with its affordable cost and scheduling flexibility, allowed UTPA to show Global Lens 2010 on campus—screening a different film every month beginning at the end of 2010. This “experiment” of sorts proved to be a great success for UTPA, and they are now gearing

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