Film Festivals Celebrate Human Rights (The Korea Herald)

The North Korean Human Rights Film Festival and the Independence, Democracy Film Festival bring DOOMAN RIVER (Global Lens 2011) and other influential films to Seoul

A scene from Zhang Lu's DOOMAN RIVER

(via The Korea Herald) Two human rights-themed film festivals open in Seoul this month ― a rare opportunity to experience a wide range of socially conscious documentaries and feature-length films.

The first North Korean Human Rights Film Festival, which kicks off on Nov. 10 at Lee Hae-rang Arts Theater of Dongguk University in Seoul, brings together 10 non-fiction and feature films that delve into human rights conditions in the communist country.…Korean-Chinese director Zhang Lu’s feature film “Dooman River” presents a story of an ethnic Korean boy who lives in a Chinese province that shares its border with Hamgyeong Province in North Korea. His life is turned upside down when he befriends a North Korean boy who often crosses the border ― through the Duman River ― in secret, to find food in the Chinese town. [more…]

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Special Feature: Tom Alter on the Making of OCEAN OF AN OLD MAN

The DVD release is next month, but we’re giving you a peek behind the curtain of this extraordinary film

Indian director Rajesh Shera’s OCEAN OF AN OLD MAN follows a grief-stricken schoolteacher in the aftermath of the 2004 tsunami. As Shera’s debut feature and the first film ever to be shot on the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, the production was no easy feat and is a fascinating story in its own right.

Naturally, when Rajesh sent us a video interview with the film’s star, veteran Indian actor Tom Alter, we knew it would be an essential addition to the DVD’s special features. Through Alter’s narration and behind-the-scenes footage, audiences can witness how the crew converted an old restaurant into a schoolhouse, see the no-frills rooms that the crew stayed in during production, and hear how Alter—a former schoolteacher himself—personally related to his character.

It’s a special feature for a special film—now take it away, Tom:


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.


EDUCATION: The Language of Global Lens

Intern Rachel Cook discusses how watching a film can mean learning a language

GFI Intern Rachel Cook

In my second week as an intern at GFI, I had a conversation with the Marketing and Publicity Manager, Hilary Lawson and the Director of Programs, Santhosh Daniel, about how film is used in the classroom. They were interested in my experiences with film in various language classes from my bilingual elementary school to my college courses.

I’ve always shied away from class discussions, but my sophomore year of high school when I signed up for a seminar on French literature and film, I knew things would have to change. There were only five students in the class, and I couldn’t help thinking this was going to be a painfully silent semester. Our teacher decided to start the course with a film so we would have something to talk about right away. I looked around at my peers skeptically, thinking there was no way this timid group would ever speak up –especially not in a foreign language. Still, after years of dry grammar lectures and mundane vocabulary lessons, the idea of watching a movie in class seemed almost too good to be true, and we were all eager to see what our teacher had in store.

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IMANI @ the San Francisco International Women’s Film Festival!

A scene from IMANI

IMANI, by Ugandan filmmaker Caroline Kamya, will be screening this Saturday as part of the 7th Annual San Francisco International Women’s Film Festival! This evocative film ventures into the lives of three characters—a child soldier, a maid and a hip hop dancer—living in contemporary Uganda. It received a GFI grant in 2009 and has gone on to win Best Film in an African Language at the African Movie Academy Awards and the Silver Award at the Cairo International Film Festival.

This screening marks a new partnership with the Women’s Film Institute, our neighbors at the Ninth Street Independent Film Center. IMANI is playing on Saturday, April 9th at 5:15, and our very own Operations Manager, Marita Murphy, will be introducing the film and speaking about GFI’s Granting program, which has supported filmmakers from over 45 nations to date!

The San Francisco International Women’s Film Festival runs April 6th-10th at the Roxie Theatre in San Francisco’s Mission district. For more information, visit the San Francisco International Women’s Film Festival website.

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MUTUM from Brazil and POSSIBLE LIVES from Argentina Available December 7th!

The Global Film Initiative is pleased to announce the DVD release of two new films from the Global Lens film series:

MUTUM Dir. Sandra Kogut, Brazil This touching drama, acclaimed for achieving “a rare authenticity in its captivating depiction of the innocence and wisdom of childhood” (Museum of Modern Art), tells the story of a young boy in rural Brazil grappling with his disintegrating family and the uncertainties of the adult world. Official Selection of the 39th Directors’ Fortnight in Cannes.

POSSIBLE LIVES (LAS VIDAS POSIBLES) Dir. Sandra Gugliotta, Argentina “Beautifully shot” and evoking a “moody sensuousness” (Hollywood Reporter), this haunting film follows a woman searching for her husband in remote Patagonia, where she finds a man who appears to be her spouse but with a different name and wife. Official Selection of the Cairo and São Paulo International Film Festivals.

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Becloud: Soul of a Nation?

Director Alejandro Gerber Bicecci and Rob Avila discuss Mexico and the psychology behind the filmmaker’s debut feature

Alejandro Gerber Bicecci was born in Mexico in 1977, the son of two Argentine psychoanalysts who left their country’s military dictatorship the year before for the relative freedom of Mexico City. Becloud (Vaho), Bicecci’s first feature film, is being distributed by Global Film Initiative and is part of GFI’s 2010 Global Lens series. Filmed in an unconventional and sophisticated manner that blends three distinct time periods together into a nearly seamless whole, the story concerns the coming-of-age of three teenagers, boyhood friends implicated in a violent act at their school many years before. Out of this small, neighborhood story from a marginal community—set against the backdrop of Iztapalapa’s annual Easter-week reenactment of the Passion—arises a resonant portrait of modern Mexican society.

The following interview with Bicecci took place in San Francisco just before the opening night premiere of Becloud at the 2010 Hola Mexico Film Festival, which was co-presented by the Global Film Initiative.

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