FEATURE: From Baghdad to San Antonio, QARANTINA Comes to South Texas

UT San Antonio Professor Steven G. Kellman (and former HuffPo contributor) on fighting off the ‘the toxins of cultural provincialism’ with QARANTINA…

A scene from QARANTINA (dir. Oday Rasheed, Iraq)

Though it is the seventh largest city in the United States, San Antonio is, like all but a few other areas in the country, virtually quarantined against foreign cinema. When an imported film does get screened in a local commercial theater, it is almost always from Britain, since, according to the industry’s conventional wisdom, Americans are monolingual, and they do not go to the movies to read; box-office receipts for inferior remakes of The Vanishing, The Debt, and The Seven Samurai exceed those for the subtitled originals. Film is the most portable of the arts, but national aversion to foreign film reflects widespread indifference to anything beyond our borders but violence.

As an antidote to the toxins of cultural provincialism, the San Antonio Museum of Art has scheduled monthly public screenings of works – twice each – provided by the Global Film Initiative. I was invited by SAMA to introduce the films and lead post-screening discussions.

October’s offering, Qarantina, written and directed by Oday Rasheed, is an outstanding demonstration of foreign cinema’s power to bring fresh perspectives to worlds that many hardly knew existed. Set in contemporary Baghdad, Qarantina is a film by Iraqis, about

Continue reading FEATURE: From Baghdad to San Antonio, QARANTINA Comes to South Texas

MONTH IN REVIEW: Flying High with GFI

Flying high with GFI

Board member Shaari Ergas catches air with Virgin America, Evan Knopf joins our ground crew and our new Facebook page launches across the interwebs…

As the first rains of the season hit the West Coast, it makes us here at GFI want to cuddle up and watch good movies til Spring. Before we do that, however, we’ve had some moves to make–in the air, on the ground, and on the internet.

Continue reading MONTH IN REVIEW: Flying High with GFI

OPEN MIC: Social Media and Global Connectivity

Laura Brewer, Online Marketing, discusses “global” social media and how you can join GFI’s digital discourse…

In this era of Arab Spring, Olympic controversy, and “social media presidencies”, Social Media is one of the most talked-about phenomena of our time. I say phenomena because, well, what is it really?

It can feel like an ever-changing, highly accessible force in our lives: a force that can lead to obsession, laughter, understanding, misunderstanding, boredom, even revolution. Its much bigger than the sum of its digital parts, much more important than the individual channels, feeds, boards, or pages viewed.

An Instagram shot from our August Happy Hour!

Social media is inherently interested in the idea of ”global”. It transcends geography and sometimes language. It allows previously quieted voices to speak. Stories and recipes and opinions can be shared by anyone, anywhere, at any time. Like film, social media provides completely digestible insight into cultures for anyone who will listen. And, most importantly, it opens avenues for dialogue.

Our aim at GFI is to create global understanding, cultural empathy and connectivity through film. We help people take initiative and change the way they see the world. We often talk about the transformative power of film and its ability to take the viewer to another place, time, or

Continue reading OPEN MIC: Social Media and Global Connectivity

NEW ON DVD: The Light Thief and Soul of Sand

The winds of change blow through both SOUL OF SAND (India) and THE LIGHT THIEF (Kyrgyzstan)–releasing on DVD September 25.

New award-winning films from Aktan Arym Kubat and Sidharth Srinivasan present a powerful look into the politics of class, caste, capitalism and environmentalism in a rapidly modernizing world.

THE LIGHT THIEF (SVET-AKE), dir. Aktan Arym Kubat, Kyrgyzstan, 2010, 80 minutes, Kyrgyz, with subtitles in English

A humble electrician intent on enlivening his rural valley with electricity unwittingly strikes a deal with a rich politician whose corrupt ambitions threaten to upend the electrician’s dream to build windmills in his village. FIPRESCI Prize, Eurasia International Film Festival; Official Kyrgyzstan Submission, Best Foreign Language Film category of the 83rd Academy Awards; Official Selection, Directors’ Fortnight, Cannes Film Festival.

Continue reading NEW ON DVD: The Light Thief and Soul of Sand

FEATURE: Dinner and a Movie with a Pinch of Salt and A SOUL OF SAND (Film Foodie)

SOUL OF SAND (Global Lens 2011), which will be available on DVD at the end of this month, explores the intersection between modernity and tradition in India with suspense, striking visuals, and food. GFI’s Laura Brewer, Online Marketing, was inspired to recreate a meal from this film—adding GFI’s own touches (re: crockpot!)—in order to further understand, appreciate, and experience this haunting film.

The final product: dal, roti, and basmati rice. Yum!

You are what you eat, right? As food and film lovers dedicated to exploring the richness of other cultures, we couldn’t help but notice prominent food scenes in many of the Global Lens films. As part of a new Film Foodie series, we’re making use of that quintessential pairing—dinner and a movie—to further our understanding of our films and their represented cultures.

Continue reading FEATURE: Dinner and a Movie with a Pinch of Salt and A SOUL OF SAND (Film Foodie)

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…

Continue reading SUPPORT: Live and Learn

NEWS: HOLLOW CITY Leads “Unaccompanied Minors” Exhibit at MoMA

From the Global Lens Collection and MoMA’s Department of Film comes Global Lens filmmaker Maria Joao Ganga’s powerful exploration of innocence and Angola…

We’re very pleased to announce that one of our most favorite curators, and educators, Anne Morra, at the Museum of Modern Art’s Department of Film, has put together a spectacular new film exhibit titled Unaccompanied Minors: From Feeding the Bay to the Hollow City, to run July 22nd-August 14th, in tandem with the Museum’s Century of the Child: Growing by Design, 1900–2000 gallery exhibit. Thirty-one short- and feature-length films are included the exhibit, at the exhibit’s core is Global Lens Collection film HOLLOW CITY :

Continue reading NEWS: HOLLOW CITY Leads “Unaccompanied Minors” Exhibit at MoMA

OPEN MIC: The Educated Eye

Jim Canacci, Lecturer at Kent State University at Trumbull, on using Global Lens films to inform, expand and appreciate the world around us

“Every story reveals a world.” -Global Lens Trailer

Jim Canacci

Jim Canacci, Lecturer at Kent State University at Trumbull

I truly believe that Global Lens changes “the way you see the world.” I know this from personal experience and through sharing these films with the students and campus community at Kent State University at Trumbull.

My first year with Global Lens was in cooperation with my good friend, Dr. Ken Bindas, who is now the Chair of the History Department at Kent State University. He asked if I would partner with him to show the films on my campus in Warren, OH, as well as at the Lemon Grove in downtown Youngstown. He provided me with the materials, and asked if I could do “the rest.” With the help of many generous people on my campus, we had a plan to show three of the films on campus during International Education Week. Jacob Roope, who organizes most of the events, helped choose which films fit best with the guest speakers and our potential audience members. Jacob Harver, who is co-owner of the Lemon Grove, was kind enough to show all the

Continue reading OPEN MIC: The Educated Eye

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.

Continue reading Lovely MISS LOVELY!

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’).

Continue reading SUPPORT: Change the Way You See the World