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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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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Global Lens on Virgin America has Everyone Seeing RED™

This month marks the 3rd anniversary of our partnership with Virgin America, and in honor of that special occasion, Santhosh Daniel, our Director of Programs, and Alfy Veretto, Manager of IFE Content and Partnerships, took a few moments during the last days of summer to reflect on where it all began—and where it’s all going.

Below is an excerpt of their conversation, which as you can see, reflects the unique style that has come to typify the GFI-Virgin partnership. It’s been a good time for everyone and for those of you who haven’t yet seen what it’s all about, catch a flight and catch a Global Lens film on Virgin RED™!

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SUPPORT: You Say “Tomato” and I Say “Tomahto”

Global Lens and promoting a difference of opinion for the sake of diversity

Global Lens: grindhouse, arthouse, our house

Every year, we do our best to bring you the best in independent world cinema. And over the years, if there’s one thing we’ve learned, it’s that tastes vary from person to person and often what we see in a film isn’t always the same as what you see…

Earlier this year, we released what some audiences describe[d] as a “slasher” film–and others describe as an iconic representation of the “Indian New Wave.” For us, Sidharth Srinivasan’s SOUL OF SAND is an eccentric thriller that ‘delves into the dark interstices between Indian modernity and tradition,’ and for Memphis-based critic, John Beifuss:

“A blunt horror-art hybrid… With one foot in the arthouse and the other in the grindhouse.” [more]

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OPEN MIC: Carnival Barking, or the Art of Reviewing Films

Will Stephenson—film student, columnist, curator, radio host and friend of GFI—looks at SOUL OF SAND and his own process for critiquing films

As an amateur critic and programmer based in Athens, Georgia, I spend a lot of time arguing the merits of films that many readers and viewers are otherwise just as happy ignoring, like stop-motion animation from the Czech Republic or 1940s zombie movies based on Jane Eyre. This is almost always rewarding and sometimes shockingly easy, as the greatness and/or strangeness of the objects can often speak for themselves, in which cases my job (which I feel lucky to have, even at an unprofessional level) consists of something like carnival barking.

But in writing about new art-house releases or curating a series with no readymade theme, the challenge (and appeal) generally involves attempting to dispel certain preconceptions about genres, national cinemas, and canons—all of which begin as useful classifications or critical tools, but can very easily lead to a disheartening reduction in the types of films people see and the ways they relate to them. The best critics work to collapse tired categories and oversimplifications, contesting and expanding our received notions about the medium. They surprise us, basically. And not to lapse into boosterism, but this is also a way of describing the Global Film Initiative’s objective, and it’s why I’ve enjoyed interning here. The films we distribute are difficult in that

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