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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Global Lens 2012 @ MoMA!

Our ninth season opens January 12th in New York with the director, cast and crew of TOLL BOOTH

The new year is just a few weeks away, and with it comes launch of Global Lens 2012 at the Museum of Modern Art, January 12th-28th! The presentation, as many of you know, is part of our annual and ongoing collaboration with the Museum, and is organized by Jytte Jensen, Senior Curator in MoMA’s Department of Film. And what can we say except…

It’s one of our best series yet. Global Lens 2012 includes GREY MATTER, the first narrative feature film produced in Rwanda by a native Rwandan filmmaker; the oh-so-lovable Farfan, star of FAT, BALD SHORT MAN (the first-ever rotoscope feature for Global Lens); and top picks from Pusan, FESPACO, Morelia and Guadalajara international film festivals (and, not to mention, Albania’s official submission to the Oscars: AMNESTY).

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NEW ON DVD: ORDINARY PEOPLE and THE SHAFT!

Serbian War Drama ORDINARY PEOPLE and Zhang Chi’s Rural Triptych THE SHAFT to release on DVD September 27th

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

Dir. Vladimir Perisic Serbia, 2009, 79 minutes Serbian, with subtitles in English One quiet afternoon, a busload of young soldiers is unexpectedly forced to question the morality of their profession after being enlisted to execute civilian prisoners at a remote facility in the countryside. Cannes Semaine de la Critique and FIPRESCI Prize, Sarajevo Film Festival.
“A laureate of Cannes’ Cinéfondation program, Perisic pushes the viewer to search for meaning or morality behind his character’s acts—but the only conclusion seems to be that such acts are hopeless, unfathomable and beyond human control.” -Variety
“Quietly devastating, a slow burning fuse that ends with an implosion of heart and mind.-The Brag

THE SHAFT (DIXIA DE TIANKONG) Dir. Zhang Chi China, 2008, 98 minutes Mandarin, with subtitles in English In three intertwined stories, a father, son and daughter fight to hold onto hope and family as they face the harsh realities of life in a poor western Chinese mining town. New Directors/New Films and NETPAC

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OSCARS!!!

[UPDATE – October 1, 2011: GFI grantee SKOONHEID is also going to the Oscars! See full post about all awards here]

Congratulations to Ahmed Imamovic, and Daniel and Diego Vega! Ahmed’s second film, BELVEDERE (currently featured in Global Lens 2011), is Bosnia-Herzegovina’s official submission to the 2011 Academy Awards! And not to be outdone, the Vega brothers’ debut feature [and 2008 GFI grant-recipient], OCTOBER, is Peru’s official submission!

We wish both films much success, with fingers crossed for a golden Oscar (and a clandestine note of luck for GFI grantee Dervis Zaim, whose film SHADOWS AND FACES, is short-listed as Turkey’s official submission)!

The Not-So-Ordinary Acts of ORDINARY PEOPLE

GFI Board Member Igor Kirman on Vladimir Perisic’s question of mind versus morality

“The trouble with Eichmann was precisely that so many were like him, and that the many were neither perverted nor sadistic, that they were, and still are, terribly and terrifyingly normal.” –Hannah Arendt, “Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil”

“If the person for some reason knew it was illegal … and still obeyed it, he could not use the de-fense of obedience of orders …. Do you really need to bring a bunch of intelligent people into the room and tell them not to shoot babies?” –William Eckhard, Chief Prosecutor, My Lai court martial

A scene from Vladimir Perisic's ORDINARY PEOPLE

At the heart of Serbian writer-director Vladimir Perisic’s chilling film, ORDINARY PEOPLE, is the long-vexing question of whether morally depraved actions—in this case, the shoot-ing of unarmed men by a group of young soldiers—can be excused on the grounds that the perpetrators were following orders. The film succeeds in great measure by making this question harder to answer than may at first appear.

The plot is minimalist, with slow-takes and sparse dialogue. Although the director is careful not to locate the action, in time or place, to lend the film an air of universal significance, the language (Serbian) and other clues suggest the action takes somewhere in the former Yugoslavia during the 1990s. The

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SUPPORT: Srebrenica and a Generation of Consciousness

Thoughts on BELVEDERE, ORDINARY PEOPLE and a quiet day in July

Remembering Srebrenica: a scene from Ahmed Imamovic's BELVEDERE

Srebrenica. A salt-mining town in Bosnia near the Serbian border, small and unassuming, like any semi-rural enclave. Yet, in 1995, it gained notoriety as the site of one of modern history (and warfare’s) most epic acts of genocide: an unparalleled massacre of human life, 8,000 mostly Muslim men and boys on a quiet day in July, that for years has breathed like an open wound, gone without closure and, seemingly disappeared from global public consciousness.

Until recently. In late-spring, the arrest and extradition of General Ratko Mladić (the individual widely believed to be the orchestrator of the Srebrenica massacre) to the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY), thrust the event back into a global spotlight. Mladić is the last of some 150+ fugitives identified by the United Nations as having committed war crimes during the Balkans conflict of the 1990s and his arrest—coupled with this summer’s arrest of accused war criminal, Goran Hadzic—marks another phase in the continuing odyssey of Balkans nations to move beyond the tragic inertia of its past.

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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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