FEATURE: The Conservation of SHYAMAL UNCLE TURNS OFF THE LIGHTS

Conservation pic2

A scene from SHYAMAL UNCLE TURNS OFF THE LIGHTS

As Earth Day approaches, GFI intern Isabella Lyle-Durham shares her thoughts on the global environmental landscape in both the Global Lens 2013 film SHYAMAL UNCLE TURNS OFF THE LIGHTS and reality…

On April 22nd, Earth Day, we dedicate 24 hours, as a global society, to thinking about our physical future. And sometimes that “thinking” means we step away from the rhetoric, and into films like SHYAMAL UNCLE TURNS OFF THE LIGHTS—shining a light not just on what we can do to preserve the earth, but also on how what we’re currently doing may not be working and may actually contradict the idea of ‘conservation.’

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INTERVIEW: The Power of Small Stories–Suman Ghosh Speaks About His Labor of Love, SHYAMAL UNCLE TURNS OFF THE LIGHTS

Director Suman Ghosh

Director Suman Ghosh

Rob Avila talks with director Suman Ghosh about leading a double life…
In the United States he’s a respected economist and academic. In India, he is better known as the award-winning movie director of such critical and box-office successes as Podokkhep (Footsteps), Dwando (The Conflict), and Nobel Chor (Nobel Thief), starring Mithun Chakraborty. But as the Calcutta native discusses below, his early passion for films grew up right alongside his doctoral work in economics at Cornell University through eye-opening studies conducted concurrently in Cornell’s film department.

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NEWS: Ashim Ahluwalia @ San Francisco Film Society, February 23rd-March 9th

Ashim Ahluwalia

Ashim Ahluwalia

SF Film Society announces its newest Artist in Residence and it happens to be one of our filmmakers. How LOVELY…

After what seems to be the longest drum-roll ever, we’re pleased to announce that Indian director (and GFI grantee) Ashim Ahluwalia will be visiting the Bay Area next month as part of the San Francisco Film Society’s Artist in Residence program, February 23rd-March 9th!

The residency will feature the Bay Area premiere of MISS LOVELY–Ashim’s second feature, post Cannes, currently in Rotterdam, big stuff—on Thursday, January 28th (co-presented by GFI–tickets here), and a post-screening discussion moderated by Ivan Jaigirdar (of 3rdi). Also included in the residency will be visits to schools and universities, and in-classroom screenings of Ashim’s first film, JOHN & JANE (students only).

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FESTIVALS & AWARDS: Berlinale, Rotterdam and Beyond

SO MUCH WATER (Uruguay) and A FOLD IN MY BLANKET (Georgia) @ Berlinale Panorama are just two jewels in a mother lode of GFI films, fests and awards this month….

SO MUCH WATER (Uruguay), GFI grant recipient, premieres at Berlinale!

 

It’s a new year and our Global Lens films and GFI grant recipients are back in a big way, with screenings all over Europe this month for some of the biggest conferences of world cinema on the globe, at Berlin, Rotterdam and beyond. Without further adieu, here are this month’s headlines:

BERLIN INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: The Berlin International Film Festival is always host of a wide array of world and European premieres, and this year these premieres include those of six GFI grant recipients—likely our greatest showing at Berlinale to-date!

For those of you attending Berlinale, be sure to catch our grant recipients—from Costa Rica to China—premiering and screening at this year’s festival:

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NEWS: Global Lens 2013 @ MoMA!

Global Lens 2013: Change the Way You See the World

Our tenth anniversary opens with China’s Sixth Generation, Sebastián Silva, the biggest film you’ve ever seen from Brazil (literally), and a host of Global Lens alumnus.…

It’s our tenth year and we’re kicking off Global Lens 2013, January 10th-26th, with ten films at the Museum of Modern Art! It’s going to be some celebration…

BEIJING FLICKERS will open the series on January 10th with a week-run at MoMA and director Zhang Yuan and actor Li Xinjun in attendance, to launch the festivities (a must see: Zhang is the acclaimed director of Beijing Bastards, and part of the gritty Sixth Generation ethos—who in the ‘90s, pushed Chinese filmmaking out of an overly-romanticized lens into the alter-reality of its edgy, urban psyche).

Also in New York for the GL13 opening: Suman Ghosh for the North American premiere of SHYAMAL UNCLE TURNS OFF THE LIGHTS, on January 11th. This film is something to indeed be experienced with the director, as he runs his fingers through the tangled hair of Kolkata’s bureaucracy; an inspired and insightful work that carries a subtle charm, similar to another Global Lens standout.

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INDUSTRY: A Decade of Film

A retrospective look at Global Lens via the images and ideas that took our signature series from infancy to adulthood…

As writer Robert Mckee said, “Storytelling is the most powerful way to put ideas into the world today.”

We agree.

Stories are the basis of humanity. They teach, they entertain, and they shape how we see the world. As humans, we are wired to connect and bond with others.

GFI was created with this purpose: to create global understanding, empathy and connectivity through the powerful medium of film, and to promote and support the vibrant growth of global filmmaking. To date, we have distributed 96 independent films from over 38 countries to North American audiences, and hosted screenings in every U.S. state except North Dakota. (Anyone in North Dakota want to help us with our 2013 New Years Resolution? Contact us!)

Through these films, we hope to inspire people to keep learning about other perspectives and ways of life. In celebration of Global Lens’ 10th year anniversary in January, we take a look at some of our films and the themes they contain from the past decade…

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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.

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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…

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FOCUS: An Indian Indie

From dodging debt to clearing censorship, SOUL OF SAND director, Sidharth Srinivasan, discusses the genesis of a film fueled by “passion, persistence, patience–and pig headedness!”

(Image courtesy of Sidharth Srinivasan)

It’s been three achingly long years from script to screen. We shot PAIRON TALLE (SOUL OF SAND) as an utter indie, sans any form of corporate funding let alone guarantee of completion, on love, not-so-fresh air and foolhardiness, in the fall of 2008. To embark on such a venture one has to contend with a veritable host of naysayers—aghast outsiders, concerned family members and frowning well-wishers, and during pre-production I could almost smell the cast and crew clandestinely questioning the folly of my endeavors behind my back, but supporting me nonetheless for my very personal Waterloo (bless their souls). I say stick to your guns if the project has stuck with you for as long as it has—independent filmmaking is the exclusive domain of masochists who revel in the pleasure/pain principle…

Once principal photography began in earnest everyone was disbelievingly stunned into action, as it were, and spirits ran alarmingly high – the joy of a successful shoot is akin to chasing that ubiquitous dragon. But the low that came post-shooting hit like a ton of bricks – case in point, our film was in the proverbial can but we were over-budget (despite having completed

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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: