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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EDUCATION: Learn Everywhere

‘Change the way you see the world’ with the swipe of a library card, click of a mouse, rip of a movie ticket…

(Photo: Creative Commons)

In a previous post, I discussed the values of education through world cinema, specifically among high school students. But we all know that education really extends beyond school and teachers and students (and books and homework, for that matter), and influences us every day of our lives, regardless of whether we’re enrolled in a formal educational institution. Learning takes place anywhere and everywhere, all the time, and even more so among viewers of Global Lens films.

Take, for example, when a patron enters the Hartford Public Library, seeking to learn about war and its influence on the people living in Iraq. The obvious choice would be to find a book or encyclopedia on the topic, but now that the library is one of several in our Global Public program, anyone can use their library card to check out Global Lens 2012 film QARANTINA (dir. Oday Rasheed, Iraq) for a visceral case-study of a family living in Iraq. The film even shows you the point of view of a military tank as it rolls through the streets of Baghdad…

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EDUCATION: ‘Striking Gold’ with Global Lens

Richard Katz, AP Human Geography Teacher at Roosevelt High School, on understanding our ‘universal humanity’ via foreign film…

"We all laughed and came away feeling how universal the experience of film and laughter must be across cultures." -Rik Katz, after screening Global Lens film MASQUERADES to his high school students.

The first time my students and I viewed an international film together, it was eye-opening. We watched a film from Algeria entitled MASQUERADES—we were all prepared for a serious account of this country, but were happily surprised to discover the film was actually a satire! We all laughed and came away feeling how universal the experience of film and laughter must be across cultures. That was when I realized that we had struck gold, and I just had to share this with other members of our school community. The students could also not stop talking about the experience and how transformative it was.

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INDUSTRY: Expression, Grace and Life — Film by Film

Cathlene Stubbs, founder of the first annual Zendegi Film Festival, on making a difference in her community… one film at a time.

A couple months ago we were contacted by a young woman in Nevada City, CA, who wanted to make a difference in her community. Her dream was to create a small festival that focused on the beauty of Middle Eastern and North African culture, rather than heavy political statements – and that idea has grown into the first annual Zendegi Film Festival (Zendegi means “life” in Farsi). We were very impressed with Cathlene’s project and her enthusiasm, and so we asked her to write a guest post about why she decided to put this festival together, and why she contacted GFI. Here’s what she had to say:

As Americans, we are primarily exposed to western media, giving ourselves a relatively limited cultural view of the world. Our news and popular entertainment, especially in times of political unrest, can sometimes further misunderstandings and contribute to fear-based decisions. Historically, the image of the Middle East and North Africa has been portrayed strictly as lower class, violent and oppressive. And very rarely are these regions represented as diverse and deeply rich in cultural tradition and vibrant lifestyles.

Artistic expression is the foundation of everyday life across the globe, and so I wanted to showcase in my community the voices of expression that exist throughout the Middle

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3 on 1: MASQUERADES—from Concept to Comedy

Castro Marquee

Photo courtesy of the Arab Film Festival

For last month’s 3 on 1 column, three GFI staffers discussed the making of BECLOUD and how the film went from grant submission to Global Lens film, as well as how the director, Alejandro Gerber Bicecci, went from respected colleague to dear friend.

This month, in honor of our DVD release of the Algerian romantic comedy (and one-time Oscar hopeful) MASQUERADES, we’ve brought together three very special people to share their experience with the film: Director Lyes Salem, GFI Founder and Board Chair Susan Weeks Coulter and Michel Shehadeh, Executive Director of the Arab Film Festival.

Excerpts of our conversation with each are below and although everyone comes from a different country and background, together they prove that while a film may be subject to editing, language barriers or hectic screening environments, laughter never gets lost in translation!

Lyes Salem, director-writer-actor, on the concept behind MASQUERADES:

Lyes Salem on the set of MASQUERADES

As I was writing the script, I aimed at finding a balance between a surrealist depiction and an unlikely story—although I am not sure the story told in Masquerades is so unlikely!

In

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NEW ON DVD: MASQUERADES and SHIRLEY ADAMS!

MASQUERADES from Algeria and SHIRLEY ADAMS from South Africa available today!

We’re pleased to announce the DVD release of two new films from the Global Lens film series:

DVD coverMASQUERADES (MASCARADES) Dir. Lyes Salem Algeria, 2008, 92 minutes Arabic, with subtitles in English In a dusty Algerian village, a well-intentioned fib suddenly turns a gardener into a mogul, forcing him to choose between the happiness of his narcoleptic sister and his newfound celebrity; Official Algeria Submission for Best Foreign Language Film, 81st Academy Awards; FIPRESCI Prize at the Dubai International Film Festival.

A smart, expertly made crowd-pleaser. Masterfully sure of what it sets out to accomplish–and wise enough never to take itself too seriously.” -SF360

Undoubtedly, Masquerades markes Salem out as a talent we’ll certainly be seeing more of–and if his next work is as genial as this, the pleasure will be all ours.” -Screen Daily

For more information, visit: http://catalogue.globalfilm.org/masquerades.html

DVD coverSHIRLEY ADAMS Dir. Oliver Hermanus South Africa, 2009, 92 minutes Engish and Afrikaans, with subtitles in English In the depressed Cape Town neighborhood of Cape Flats, a single mother contemplates her fate and cautiously accepts the help of an overeager social worker as she struggles to care for her paraplegic and suicidal son; Best Director and Best Actress at the South

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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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Summertime, and the viewing is easy…

New and award-winning Global Lens films on DVD!

It’s summertime, which means school is out, sunglasses are on, and maybe–if you’re lucky–you’ve got some time off. What better way to spend those hot summer nights than with some cool DVDs?

Well, GFI’s got you covered. We’ve got some fantastic films coming to DVD, and even if you’re short on vacation funds, you can still get a glimpse of life in exotic locales around the world this summer! From the beaches of Peru to the dusty roads of Algeria, these films will transport you to other worlds and cultures, all from the comfort of your own home.

Here’s a sneak peek of what’s in store…

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NOW PLAYING: Global Lens in the Bay Area!

Did you know that the Global Lens film series has screened in 43 states and one U.S. territory over the past eight years? We’ve even taken to the skies on Virgin American airlines!

Of course, it’s also nice to have Global Lens film shown in our own backyard, and over the next few weeks, the Bay Area will be buzzing with screenings of Global Lens and GFI grant-supported films!

Read on for more about each exciting presentation!

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NOW PLAYING: Global Lens 2011 and MASQUERADES, MY TEHRAN FOR SALE and Other Films from the Global Lens Collection

A scene from MY TEHRAN FOR SALE by director Granaz Moussavi

As Global Lens 2011 opens at the Museum of Modern Art, select films from the current series and the Global Lens Collection are also playing in Washington D.C. at the Smithsonian Institution!

THE WHITE MEADOWS, DOOMAN RIVER and MY TEHRAN FOR SALE (Global Lens 2010) will be playing at the Freer & Sackler Galleriesthroughout January as part of new screening program curated by the Global Film Initiative and programmer, Tom Vick, at the Smithsonian Institution.

Global Lens now playing on Virgin American flights!