The Out-of-Towners

L-R: Granting & Distribution Coordinator, Angelica Dongallo, Filmmaker and GFI Film Board member, Gaston Kabore, Administrative Coordinator, Emma Rae Lierley

Administrative Coordinator Emma Rae Lierley on “keeping it local” with GFI’s global guests

‘Promoting cross-cultural understanding through cinema’ is an interesting endeavor in the digital age: most of our work happens at a stationary desk, firmly rooted in our San Francisco office, with new-fangled technology making all of it possible.  And while we do take the occasional international trip (such as our recent excursion to Basque country!), we’re often required to be more home-body than jet-setter. Which is exactly why interacting with people outside of our office gives us different perspectives on the world–and why we get so excited when visitors come to our ‘neck of the woods.’

Last month, the Mill Valley Film Festival (MVFF) brought new and old friends to the Bay Area. Paula Markovitch, director of The Prize and Anas El Baz, lead actor of Pegasus, both visited our neighbors on the other side of the Golden Gate Bridge, and gave audiences at MVFF a sneak preview of two standout films from Global Lens 2012–which has its official release in January.

The festival also paid tribute to our old friend and GFI Film Board Member Gaston Kabore with screenings of Mr. Kabore’s seminal works, Wend Kuuni and Buud Yam–two films that not only influenced a generation of filmmaking in Africa, but also afforded an opportunity to see our mission-statement of ‘cross-cultural understanding through cinema’ in action…

During the screening of Buud Yam, the audience was rapt and engaged, but not a single laugh was heard. When asked if audiences in Burkina Faso find the film humorous, Mr. Kabore responded with a chuckle, “Oh, yes. It is very funny.” He explained that the true-to-life situations depicted in the film strike many a Burkinabe as disarmingly comical, whereas American audiences interpret the film in a more serious tone (which just goes to show that we need to be adding new jokes to our repertoire).

Federico Veiroj, director of Global Lens 2011 film, A USEFUL LIFE

This month, another friend of GFI, Uruguayan director Federico Veiroj is coming to town for a two-week residency with the San Francisco Film Society.  It’s a been few months since we last saw him in New York, and we’re pretty sure he’s got a few jokes up his sleeve for us as well. His visit continues what has become something of a tradition for us, to show our friends and filmmakers another side of the city and region we love, and live.  So, if you’re in the area, we hope that you will join us in leaving your office and attend the screening of Federico’s “deadpan comedy” A USEFUL LIFE.

If you’re not in the area, perhaps you are considering a visit soon? We sure would love to have you.

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