Volume 2, Issue 5
May 22, 2006


In This Issue

NEWS:The Global Film Initiative Awards Nine New Grants to Filmmakers!

NEWS: Link TV lights Bosnian Fuse!

FILMMAKERS IN THE NEWS:GFI Films at the 59th Cannes International Film Festival!

FILMMAKERS IN THE NEWS:Juan Pablo Rebella & Pablo Stoll’s Whisky Wins Two Awards!

GLOBAL SHORTS: Source of History Touring with Global Lens 2006!

INSIGHTS: A Discussion With Brazilian Filmmaker Renato Falcão!

Quick Links

Calendar of upcoming Global Lens events

Download Discussion Guides for Global Lens films

Buy Global Lens films on DVD

View the New Global Lens 2006 trailer

About The Global Film Initiative



For the spring 2006 granting cycle, the Global Film Initiative received a record number of film submissions from around the world. From a pool of 29 exciting projects, nine promising new features have been selected to receive completion funds.

“The granting program fulfills an important component of our mission,” says GFI Chair Susan Weeks Coulter. “By assisting these talented filmmakers in completing their projects, we help to support independent filmmaking in the developing world.” Since its founding in 2002, the Initiative has awarded more than 40 grants to filmmakers from Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East. Projects are selected based on their artistic excellence, accomplished storytelling, and cultural perspective.

The Spring 2006 grant recipients are:

ACNE, Federico Veiroj (Uruguay). Rafael Bergman (13) lost his virginity, but has never kissed a girl. Overcoming his teenage awkwardness is an obvious first step.

AGNUS DEI, Lucia Cedron (Argentina). A young woman’s grandfather is kidnapped. While working with her mother to negotiate his release, the girl discovers details about her mother’s exile to France, and the disappearance of her father many years ago.

BAD DAY TO GO FISHING, Alvaro Brechner (Uruguay). A quirky story about an aging wrestler, his manager, and a young shopkeeper who collide in a wrestling match in front of their entire, small Uruguayan town.

BEFORE WE FALL IN LOVE, James Lee (Malaysia). An uneasy alliance develops between a woman’s husband and her lover, after she disappears. The two men discover a third man who may help them find her.

THE BIG TIME, Olley Maruma (Zimbabwe). A lighthearted story about a young woman who finds fame overnight as a model. The glamorous but cruel world of the fashion industry provides a backdrop for this warm comedy and social commentary.

NAVEL OF THE WORLD, Igor Ivanov (Macedonia). Jan Ludvick is a runaway circus performer with a severe case of Meniere’s disease, a chronic ailment that causes him to see the world spinning. Despite this condition, he discovers that he has rare powers of balance and equilibrium.

THREE DAYS TO FOREVER, Riri Riza (Indonesia). Two teenage cousins wake up after a big night out to find they have missed their flight to attend a family wedding. They have three days to get there, and in those three days their lives will change forever.

TO GO, Huseyin Karabey (Turkey). A long-distance video-based romance is complicated by immigrant policies, national boundaries, and the outbreak of war in Iraq.

THE WATERCOLORIST, Daniel Rodriguez (Peru). T has a dream: to leave his commercial life and become an artist. Moving into an apartment building occupied by a disjointed group of busybodies, he finds himself unable to paint, and yielding his life to others.

The next granting deadline is September 29, 2006. For more information, or to view granting guidelines, Click Here


Fuse (Bosnia and Herzegovina, 2003) is a darkly humorous look at postwar life in a rustic town. This beautifully wrought satire is the debut feature from Sarajevo-born director Pjer Zalica. Fuse toured the US last year as part of Global Lens 2005. This year, American audiences will have another opportunity to view this brilliant tragic comedy, as Fuse has recently been slated for broadcast on Link TV.

Link TV, “Television Without Borders,” is a nationwide, independent television network dedicated to providing Americans with a global perspective on news, critical social issues, and culture. Launched in 1999, the network is currently available in over 28 million American homes on DIRECTV ch.375 and DISH Network ch.9410, and on a growing number of public and educational channels.

Starting this summer, Link will expand its cultural programming by launching a world cinema strand. Featuring the US TV premieres of 10 outstanding recent foreign films, the series will introduce the compelling visions of directors whose work is rarely available to American viewers. Fuse will appear in the first series, and Link TV hopes to present other GFI titles in the future. Further details about Link’s world cinema series will be available late June. (for Link TV website, CLICK HERE)

Fuse will also be available this fall on DVD from First Run Features. (for First Run Features' Website, CLICK HERE)

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“Ideally, a ‘good’ independent film should tickle, punch, amuse, gnaw, or ignite something inside each and every viewer—something that inspires them to want to go out and make a film of their own. Or at least realize it’s possible.”

Source: Filmmaker Alan Berliner, in an interview about his film, Wide Awake, on indiewire.com. (January 24, 2006)

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Djamshed Usmonov’s, To Get To Heaven First You Have to Die (Tajikistan,) will be screening this month at the 59th Festival de Cannes. The film, which received a Global Film completion grant in 2005, has been selected as part of the festival’s prestigious Un Certain Regard section. Usmonov’s previous feature, Angel on the Right, was distributed in Global Lens 2003/2004. Usmonov also serves as a charter member of the Initiative’s Film Board.

Also at Cannes: Another Man’s Garden, directed by Joao Luis Sol Carvalho (Mozambique) will appear in Market screenings sponsored by CNC France. The film received a Global Film completion grant in 2003.


Uruguayan film Whisky, directed by Juan Pablo Rebella and Pablo Stoll, screened in Global Lens 2005 and continues to receive accolades in festivals all over the country. In April, the film took home two awards: Best Overall Film at the 14th Annual Providence Latin American Film Fest (Providence, Rhode Island,) and The Audience Award in the Dramatic Feature Category at the 9th Cine Las Americas International Film Festival (Austin, Texas.)

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The Global Lens 2006 Education Program continues its tour of the country, with free educational screenings for high school students at each of our partner venues. Throughout the month of April, students in Denver, Chicago, and Portland all enjoyed screenings and discussions of Stolen Life (China,) Max and Mona (South Africa,) and Border Café (Iran.) This month, we wrap up the Spring semester with screenings and discussions at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. To date, more than 3500 students nationwide have participated in the 2006 program!

One particularly exciting screening of Border Café took place last month in Chicago. On April 25th, 140 students from local public high schools attended Cinema/Chicago’s event, organized by Outreach Director Naomi Walker. Columbia College professor Mehrnaz Saeed–Vafa served as a special guest speaker for this event, introducing the film and facilitating the dicussion afterwards. Saeed–Vafa has taught filmmaking in Tehran, and written extensively on Iranian cinema. She is also accomplished filmmaker of both short films and documentaries. Her strong background in this subject made her a perfect speaker for Border Café, and students were eager to engage her in discussion after the film. One of the topics discussed was the way that Border Café illustrates the diversity of views and beliefs in Iranian society. Saeed–Vafa noted the variety of backgrounds represented in the film, demonstrating that Iran is a far more multicultural society than many Americans realize. With Iran currently the focus of so much political attention, this screening of Border Café prompted some truly important cross-cultural dialogue.

Global Lens 2006 will continue its free educational screenings in September. For more information on the Education Program, Click Here.

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A cycle of revenge continues when a boy takes up arms against those who killed his parents in Roamba’s Source of History. After witnessing the brutal murder of his parents, Sergeant Toe joins an unconventional rebel army to fight against government forces in an unnamed African country. He mobilizes troops, demonstrates keen military strategy and wins the respect and trust of seasoned colonels—all at the age of 11. With his loud, yet boyish voice, and determined little face, he fiercely defends the childhood of others by demanding that his soldiers never hurt the innocent. Near Toe’s military unit is a small village where parents lovingly yell at their children to get out of bed and where young girls and boys pretend to marry each other using horses as witnesses. When Sergeant Toe’s unit is ordered to attack this peaceful community, a melee ensues and his influence over his comrades is revealed. It is here that Toe remembers his words to his mother, “Mama, as I promised you, no child will suffer the same fate as me.”

Source of History has screened with four other short films under a program entitled Global Shorts. For the first time, The Global Shorts program is designed to acknowledge emerging filmmakers from the developing world, while showcasing their short films within the larger traveling series Global Lens. Screening at the Initiative’s partner venues, the four shorts screening with Source of History are: Elephants Never Forget, (Venezuela/Mexico); Harvest Time, (China); Little Terrorist, (India); and More Than the World, (Argentina), a great international sampler!

Source of History, written and directed by Adama Roamba (Burkina Faso, 2003) won Best Short Film at FESPACO, and was screened at the Toronto International Film Festival, the New York Film Festival and the Uppsala International Short Film Festival.

Previous Global Short Spotlights:

Elephants Never Forget
Harvest Time
Little Terrorist

See Global Lens 2006 Calendar for venue locations and screening times.

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Global Lens 2006 features two films from Brazil: Cinema, Aspirins, and Vultures, and Almost Brothers. The past decade has seen a rebirth in Brazilian film production, largely due to new systems that offer federal tax incentives to companies investing in film. Yet even with this support, the struggle to gain exposure and compete with Hollywood remains a formidable challenge for Brazilian filmmakers.

Recently, we spoke with award-winning Brazilian director and cinematographer Renato Falcão about the current state of Brazil’s film industry. Falcão has shot feature films and shorts, as well as numerous documentaries and music videos. His first feature film as a director, Margarette’s Feast, was included in Global Lens 2003/2004.

Global Lens: What avenues are available for funding a Brazilian film?

Renato Falcão: Brazilian production is heavily dependent on government money. If you don’t have state support, it’s really hard to make a commercial movie that is successful.

In the early 90s, [President Fernando Collor de Mello] cut all the state funding for film. In the years after that, Brazil made almost no movies. It was a disaster. Later, he was taken out of government. Slowly, they started putting the laws back in place, and there was a new agency that allowed for constant production again. It took a while for Brazil to get back to the same place. Today, what happens is this: you make your project, you submit it to the agency—part of the ministry of government—and they approve your project. Once it’s approved, you go to companies [seeking sponsorship.] You have to convince the companies to give you [money that would otherwise go to taxes.] It’s a tax break law. Most of the films in Brazil are done like that.

GL: Can you describe the approval process?

RF: The government will approve your project; that’s a [formality.] You need a production company, a director, a budget, a cast. it’s a lot of paperwork. They approve 100 percent of all the projects that [follow the procedure.] Then you have to convince the companies [to fund the project.] It’s a little tricky: it’s public money that private companies are giving to you. They might say “This project is not what I want to see; I want to see something more favorable to my company.” So in that sense, there is a censorship. And of course, they are really much more interested in commercial films, like comedies, or films with soap opera actors. It’s a little more comfortable for them to put their money there than in a more controversial film.

But then again, the government does have some special grants that are for people who are not getting that money. That’s really important to keep those, for whoever is not getting [sponsorship] through companies. It’s still the public money, so you should not be excluded because you want to talk about your country in a way that the companies don’t want to. So that has to be balanced; it has to be carefully examined all the time. You need some kind of process to make sure that the industry is working, but you have to make sure that you don’t exclude the really important movies that need that money.

But I really think both [types of films] should be there. There should be space for both, from the most commercial to the most artistic, and documentaries. Everything should be included. No one should be excluded. More is better, in production, for sure.

GL: What about distribution? Is there a local audience for Brazilian film?

RF: Distribution is one of the challenges now. Say there are about 60 films produced annually. Out of those, maybe 58 are produced with government money. But not all of them will get distribution. That’s a huge problem; I would say thats the last big thing to be fixed. If the government is sponsoring these films, they have to be seen by the people who own the film—the people of Brazil—because it’s tax money.

I think it’s really important that people are seeing Brazilian films, and seeing that they are good. There has to be an industry. You have to have everything, from the really popular films to the really art films. If you have all of them, then the industry gets better and professionals are working, and you can tell every single possible story.

Right now, there’s a minimum amount of days that theatres have to show Brazilian films. There’s a law. It’s really hard to compete with Hollywood. Hollywood is really strong; they make this huge product. That’s why every single other country, the government has to make laws to make sure that there’s a fair game somehow.

GL: We understand that at one point it was mandatory to show short films in theatres?

RF: Yes, and I saw some really good ones. I’m not sure whether the law is not being followed or if [it’s not in place anymore.] But I think it was really important and should go back. I think every country should consider that as an option, especially if theyre interested in encouraging a new generation of filmmakers.

Commercially, of course, they’re not successful things. But culturally and artistically, it’s really important to have them there. Filmmaking is an art form, and it should be respected. It should be somehow mixed with the commercial, not segregated—with art films small theatres, and the big [theatres] just for commercial [films.] Somehow, it would be great if they were mixed. People could say “Oh, yeah, I want to see Mission Impossible, and then I want to see this artistic film from Africa or South America.” It’s really important that people at least get exposed.

GL: What filmmaking trends do you see coming out of Brazil right now?

RF: A lot of [Brazilian] filmmakers—this is one of the advantages that Brazil has—feel that films have to be creative, something different. There are a lot of people with this desire to make a next step into filmmaking. That’s really positive. I don’t know what the next trend is, but I know that a lot of people are trying.

One thing about the social culture of Brazil is that many filmmakers feel that they have to somehow reflect society. Especially because there are a lot of problems in Brazil. It’s a great country, there are a lot of positive things, but there are a lot of problems. I think its a good thing that filmmakers are always trying to reach that content and show that. But people sometimes don’t like to see that reality right on the screen. That’s why some films are more successful outside of Brazil, because it’s hard to see your reality, in your face. In my movie, at least, I tried to make this really strong subject into a nice thing, with some humor. I think it’s more effective. Every single day you open the newspaper. It’s not good, what you see in the newspaper. And if you see a movie right after that, people get uncomfortable. So it’s a challenge, to make sure that you approach those subjects in a creative way.

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