GRANTING: Ten Years to the Day in Global Film Funding

Ten years ago today, GFI announced the recipients of the inaugural granting program, and look at us now…


On April 10, The Global Film Initiative announced it’s most recent grant recipients from the Winter 2012 granting cycle. The list of grantees features 11 works from both emerging and established filmmakers, representing 10 different countries around the world, and each project demonstrates great promise and vision. As Susan Weeks Coulter, Founder and Board Chair, said in the announcement: “We are pleased to identify and support these eleven unique and powerful narratives.”

What makes this granting cycle particularly special, however, is that it is the most recent in GFI’s now decade-old granting program. Ten years ago to the day, the very first round of grantees were announced on May 16, 2003. In celebration of this milestone, we’re taking a look back on the films GFI has funded over the years.

Again and again, our grantees represent filmmakers who are not afraid to challenge convention–to make sometimes dangerous, but always fiercely truthful statements about the society, and the world, that reflect them. These films often represent new perspectives and voices in storytelling–voices which are too often silenced or misrepresented in the mainstream–and hold promise in heralding a new generation of filmmakers.

10 Years in The Global Film Initiative Granting Program:

The Global Film Initiative granting program distributes 15-20 filmmaker awards annually. Since 2003, The Global Film Initiative has awarded 143 grants to 58 nations.


click the picture to view interactive map!

Click to view the interactive map!

BY REGION: North Africa-8 (5.6%), Sub-Saharan Africa-19 (13.3%), East Asia-9 (6.3%), Central Asia-5 (3.5%), Southeast Asia-16 (11.2%), South Asia-9 (6.3%), Middle East-21 (14.7%), Latin America-44 (30.7%), Eastern Europe-11 (7.7%), Caribbean-1 (0.7%)

Fun fact!

  • Argentina is the nation with the most GFI grants at 11 awards!

Did you know?


Only a sliver of perspectives are represented in most films that get funding and are produced. GFI works to broaden the horizons of American film-goers by supporting and distributing independent, international cinema–introducing previously unheard voices through film.

In particular, the mis- and under-representation of women in film and media is a global problem, one which leaves many women relatively silenced in cinema. However, despite the often male-dominated world of filmmaking, roughly 30% of our grants are awarded to women filmmakers.

GFI also acts as a spring board for new storytellers: roughly 30% of GFI’s grants have gone to the first feature films of filmmakers, male or female. GFI has continually provided access to new stories and storytelling in cinema since its first round of  grantees, all of which were debut features: BUFFALO BOY, HOLLOW CITY, ON EACH SIDE, and ANOTHER MAN’S GARDEN.

Maria João Ganga

Filmmaker Maria João Ganga


Of our incredible list of grantees, a few films and filmmakers stand out for their sheer courage and innovation. The Global Film Initiative is proud to stand by and support these incredible works and individuals.

  • HOLLOW CITY, dir. Maria João Ganga. Among our first ever grant recipients, Ganga’s incredible story of one war orphan’s journey across the dangerous landscape of post-war Luanda is not only just the second film to be made after the end of Angola’s civil war in 1991. It is also the very first film to be made by an Angolan woman ever.
  • RAMCHAND PAKISTANI, dir. Mehreen Jabbar. This film, a Spring 2007 grantee, about a young boy who accidentally crosses the border between Pakistan and India, is one of the first Pakistani films to feature Hindu main characters.
  • KARAOKE, dir. Chris Chan Fui Chong. This film from GFI’s Winter 2009 grantees, which illustrates the changing climate of contemporary Malaysia through karaoke videos, was only the second Malaysian film to be featured at the Cannes Film Festival.
  • COLORED LIKE THE NIGHT, dir. Agliberto Melendez. GFI is proud to be supporting Dominican filmmaker Melendez’s sophomore film about the final address of revolutionary mayoral candidate José Francisco Peña Gómez. His first film A ONE WAY TICKET (1989) was the first full-length feature of the Dominican Republic!
  • BEATRIZ’S WAR, dir. Bety Reis. This film, from our Summer 2011 grantees, is the first full-length feature film out of East Timor!


Of the 143 projects that GFI has funded, 75% of those completed are award-winning or nominated.

Did you know?

  • Of GFI’s grantees, the film with the highest number of awards is CINEMA, ASPIRINS AND VULTURES with 29 wins!



  • 10 of our granted films have been submitted to the Academy Award’s “Best Foreign Language Film” category! These films are: CINEMA, ASPRINS AND VULTURES (Brazil’s submission, 2006), I AM FROM TITOV VELES (Macedonia’s submission, 2009), WHISKY (Uruguay’s submission, 2004), THE BUFFALO BOY (Vietnam’s submission, 2006), BORDER CAFE (Iran’s submission, 2006), WHEN I SAW YOU (Palestine’s submission, 2012), BEAUTY (South Africa’s submission, 2011), OCTOBER (Peru’s submission, 2010), CRAB TRAP (Columbia’s submission, 2009), and  ALIVE! (Albania’s submission, 2009).


From supporting both the development of independent cinema around the world, to the hundreds of accolades these individual films have collectively received, we can’t be more proud of our first decade of support–and we cannot wait to see what GFI’s grantees accomplish in the next 10 years!


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