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Storytelling with Film Forward

Storytelling with Film Forward

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Storytelling with Film Forward

This blog was originally published at on June 8, 2011, as part of “Telling Stories by Penelope Starr.”

How did Tucson get lucky? Film Forward, an initiative of the Sundance Institute and the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, is in town. We are one of 14 cities, seven in the U.S., to be chosen to view 10 selected culturally diverse films.

Today and tomorrow are the last days to view these free films so check out the schedule and take advantage of this unique event. There are a string of local community partners and it’s being coordinated by The Loft Cinema, Tucson’s nonprofit independent art house.

According to their website, Film Forward is “a cultural exchange program to enhance cross-cultural understanding, collaboration, and dialogue around the globe by engaging audiences through the exhibition of film and conversation with filmmakers.”

Yesterday I attended a free filmmaker-to-filmmaker workshop presented by producer/cinematographer Patricia Lee. She spoke about the process of making the documentary film A Small Act to an appreciative audience at the Joel D. Valdez Main Library. Lee and Director Jennifer Arnold traveled the world to document the powerful and touching story described on their website:

"When Hilde Back sponsored a young, rural Kenyan student, she thought nothing of it. She certainly never expected to hear from him, but years later she does. Now a Harvard graduate and a Human Rights Lawyer for the United Nations, Chris Mburu decides to find the stranger that changed his life. Inspired by her generosity, he starts a scholarship program of his own and names it for his former benefactor.

The top students in Mukubu primary school are in the exact same situation as Chris once was. They are bright, but can’t afford to pay school fees. With the creation of Chris’ fund, these students have new hope. But the program is small; how many will qualify for a scholarship?"

One of the intentions of Film Forward is to engage people in a dialogue about the issues brought up in the films. To this end they encourage filmgoers to share feedback via their website or social media sites including Facebook. They are interested in knowing what, if any, changes were influenced by this ambitious project.