Thursday, June 07, 2007

THE GLOBAL FILM INITIATIVE—Awards Granted to Six Promising Projects

Yesterday evening Susan Weeks Coulter—knowing how keenly curious I am in the entire filmmaking process; from the word on the page to the frenzy on the wall—invited me to join her and her Global Film Initiative ("GFI") staff for dinner at San Francisco's Indian Oven to celebrate not only their snappy new MySpace site but the completion of GFI's Spring granting cycle. After weathering multiple grant proposals, six filmmakers have been awarded completion funding for their film projects. GFI is a not-for-profit film distributor specializing in independent films from Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East. The Initiative awards grants twice each year, to both emerging and established filmmakers. Since The Initiative was founded in 2002, over 50 grants have been awarded to filmmakers from the developing world.

These film projects have been selected based on their artistic excellence, accomplished storytelling, and cultural perspective on daily life around the world. "GFI's granting program is at the core of our mission," says Santhosh Daniel, Director of Programs. "By funding projects from the developing world, we support international filmmaking communities and our mission of cultural exchange through film." Funds received from grants are used to subsidize post-production costs, such as laboratory and sound mixing fees, and access to advanced editing systems.

It is with great pride that The Evening Class has been allowed to be the first to announce GFI's Spring 2007 grant recipients:

Bul Déconné!, Massaër Dieng (Sénégal)—As a young man comes of age, his vision for the future conflicts with the gritty economic realities of his country. Bul Déconné! premiered at FESPACO 2007.

Every Day Is A Holiday, Dima El-Horr (Lebanon)—Three women, each with very different motivations, are strangers to each other but on the same bus headed for Marmal Prison. Dima El-Horr's earlier independent short El-Havi (The Street, 1997) was nominated for the Best Film in the International Short Film Competition at the Torino Film Festival, and was followed by a sophomore short Prêt-à-porter Imm Ali (2003).

Huacho, Alejandro Fernández Almendras (Chile). Acceptance, adaptation and denial characterize the struggle to adjust to changing economic realities of rural, everyday life. Almendras' earlier short Lo que trae la lluvia (Along Came the Rain, 2007) was nominated for Best Short Film at this year's Berlinale.

Little Heart, Nguyen Thanh Van (Vietnam). The lure of high paying jobs in an embroidery factory in Saigon is a compelling reason for young girls to leave their villages.

Pesantren, Nurman Hakim (Indonesia). Friendships that test the limits of faith and devotion are depicted in post 9/11 realities of central Java and Jakarta.

Ramchand: The Untouchable Pakistani, Mehreen Jabbar (Pakistan). A Hindu family is held hostage in the political tension between India and Pakistan. Jabbar has filmed an earlier short Beauty Parlor (1997) and a piece for television, Saraab (2007).

As any filmmaker will tell you—let alone a filmmaker from a developing country—completion funds for a film frequently allow films to travel into the world. Lest we forget how important that truly is, here are some of the recent successes of previous GFI grant recipients:

Agnus Dei, Lucía Cedrón (Argentina). Winner of 2007 Sundance / NHK International Filmmakers Award. GFI grant awarded Spring 2006.

Before We Fall In Love Again, James Lee (Malaysia). Official selection at the 11th Pusan International Film Festival and the 31st Hong Kong International Film Festival. GFI grant awarded Spring 2006. James Lee, of course, gained acclaim for Mei li de xi yi ji (The Beautiful Washing Machine, 2004).

Ye Che (Night Train), Diao Yi'nan (China). Selected for screening at the 60th Festival de Cannes in the Un Certain Regard program. GFI grant awarded 2004. Variety's Derek Elley describes it as "a large leap into minimalist mannerism" that is "strikingly composed."

Las Vidas Possible (The Possible Lives), Sandra Gugliotta (Argentina). Selected for screening at the 60th Festival de Cannes in the Pavillon Les Cinémas du Sud program. GFI grant awarded Fall 2006.

Three Days To Forever, Riri Riza. Official selection at the 31st Hong Kong International Film Festival. GFI grant awarded Spring 2006. Riza was responsible for Gie (2005), the biopic of Indonesian activist Soe Hok Gie.

The Evening Class congratulates both Global Film Initiative and grant recipients Massaër Dieng, Dima El-Horr, Alejandro Fernández Almendras, Nguyen Thanh Van, Nurman Hakim and Mehreen Jabbar! All six will be films to keep an eye on.

Cross-published at Twitch.


king_vidor said...

Glad to see that the Malaysian entry (James Lee) got some help. Doing digital video seemed to have encouraged creativity within such tight constraints.

Michael Guillen said...

I was glad to see that too.

milenkos said...

that's great news Michael! Yes, I'm familiar with Fernandez's work as a critic for the chilean branch of the fipresci:

Keep up the reporting! I've added GFI in my myspace. you should get one too :)

signing off from Chile,

Michael Guillen said...

Miljenko, how wonderful to hear from you. Isn't it great that the internet will allow us to interact even though you have gone home to Chile?

I actually have a MySpace page but have never developed it. It's been hard enough to maintain The Evening Class.

Anonymous said...

Glad to see Pakistani entry!! I love u Mehreen!!! keep up the good work!