Sundance Institute: First 2012 Stop For Film Forward Advancing Cultural Dialogue in Arizona

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Tucson, ArizonaFILM FORWARD: Advancing Cultural Dialogue, an initiative of Sundance Institute and the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities in collaboration with the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services, takes place in Arizona from February 27 through March 1, 2012. In collaboration with The Loft Cinema, FILM FORWARD presents screenings of six films as well as personal appearances and workshops with filmmakers from three of the titles at a variety of community locations in Tucson and Sells, Arizona.

“Film has the power to not only entertain but engage us in stories that transcend cultural differences and geographic boundaries,” said Sundance Institute Executive Director Keri Putnam. “Together with our FILM FORWARD collaborators at The Loft Cinema, we hope that this collection of films and events sparks imaginations, inspires cross-cultural dialogue and opens up a real exchange of ideas and issues.”

The films to be screened as part FILM FORWARD are: The Green Wave, On the Ice, Beginners, Grbavica, Somewhere Between and Unfinished Spaces.

Filmmakers for three of the films, Ali Samadi Ahadi (The Green Wave), Andrew Okpeaha MacLean (On The Ice) and Mike Mills (Beginners), will be in attendance to participate in Q&As, moderated discussions, workshops and meet-and-greet events with the Tucson and Sells communities. All three films will screen at the Loft Cinema in Tucson and also in Sells at the Tohono O’odham Nation Recreation Center. On The Ice will be followed by a discussion on Native voices at the Recreation Center. Two workshops will be presented in Tucson at the University of Arizona: Documentary Filmmaking, Social Media and Arab Spring with Ali Samadi Ahadi following his screening of The Green Wave and Mike Mills will lead a student Script to Screen workshop on how to transition from a short filmmaker to a feature filmmaker; clips and short films from Mills’ body of work will be presented and discussed after a screening of his feature film, Beginners. There will also be a screening of On The Ice followed by a special moderated discussion for the local refugee community at the Grace St. Paul’s Church.

Sundance Institute’s Meredith Lavitt, Associate Director, Film Forward and Owl Johnson, Manager, Native American & Indigenous Program will be in attendance. Rocco Landesman, the Chairman of the NEA, will be a guest at several of the Arizona FILM FORWARD events.

A consortium of local Arizona cultural and government organizations will be supporting the FILM FORWARD initiative in Tucson including: Arizona Commission on the Arts (NEA), Arizona Department of Education (Indian Education Program), Gila River Reservation, Arizona State Museum, Tucson Pima Arts Council, Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, The University of Arizona and Pima College.

Official venues in Tucson are: The University of Arizona, Tohono O’odham Nation Recreation Center, Tucson Museum of Art, Tucson Chinese Cultural Center and Grace St. Paul’s Church join The Loft as official Tucson venues for FILM FORWARD.

The films participating in the FILM FORWARD program represent a powerful exploration of universal themes that provide an avenue for greater cultural understanding. All 10 films collectively illustrate coming-of-age stories, explore identity and reveal the transformation process, both political and personal. On The Ice navigates the rocky landscape of adolescence; The Green Wave depicts the challenges and resourcefulness of a country and people in conflict; Beginners explores the relationship between father and son and the endurance of love; Unfinished Spaces shows the collision between art and politics; Grbavica reveals the scars of war as a mother and daughter struggle through post-war Sarajevo and ultimately the strength of family; Somewhere Between follows the story of four Chinese-American girls struggling with their Identity as they grow into young women. FILM FORWARD mirrors the diversity of backgrounds and viewpoints it promotes, underscoring the importance of mutual understanding and respect for other cultures and traditions that is at the heart of cultural exchange.

All FILM FORWARD screenings in Tucson and Sells are free and open to the public. A full schedule of screenings and events as well as a complete list of outreach partners is available at and


Beginners / USA (Writer/Director: Mike Mills)

Beginners imaginatively explores the hilarity, confusion, and surprises of love through the evolving consciousness of Oliver, whose life is rocked by two announcements from his elderly father: that he has terminal cancer, and that he has a young male lover.

Grbavica / Bosnia and Herzegovina (Director: Jasmila Zbanic)

Grbavica explores the painful long-term effects of war on a Bosnian woman and her daughter as they struggle to make a life in post-war Sarajevo. Removing the veil from the ultimate taboo of the war in the Balkans: the use of rape as a weapon, the film reveals that the post-war denial of this war crime is as devastating as the crime itself.

The Green Wave / Iran (Director: Ali Samadi Ahadi)

When the ultra-conservative populist Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was confirmed to the office of President in Iran following the June 12, 2009 elections, the ensuing protest demonstrations were broken up with brutal attacks by government militia. This documentary-collage, makes use of Facebook, Twitter, personal videos and blog posts to illustrates the dramatic events behind this revolution.

On the Ice / USA (Director: Andrew Okpeaha MacLean)

Two Alaskan teenagers deal with guilt and a web of deceit after accidentally killing a friend in a fight that got out of control. With their future in the balance, the two boys are forced to explore the limits of friendship and honor.

Somewhere Between / USA (Director: Linda Goldstein Knowlton)

This film tells the story of four teenaged girls adjusting to life in the U.S. after their Chinese birth parents are forced to part with them due to rural poverty and China’s “one-child” policy. The film provides an intimate look into the lives of teenage adoptees as they come to terms with their unique identities.

Unfinished Spaces / USA (Directors: Benjamin Murray, Alysa Nahmias)

Fidel Castro invites three exiled architects back to Cuba to finish work on an art school they started 40 years ago. Featuring intimate footage of Fidel Castro, the documentary offers a remarkable view into Cuba’s past, present, and future.

Upcoming FILM FORWARD Tour Dates

China: March 14-22

India: March 15-23

Imperial Valley: May 1-4

Morocco: May 6-13

Colombia: July 9-14

Puerto Rico: August 22-26

Oklahoma: September 6-8

UNESCO, Paris: September dates tbd

The Loft

The Loft Cinema is a nonprofit, community-supported cinema that honors the vision of filmmakers, celebrates ideas and promotes the appreciation and understanding of the art of film. It is a mission-driven, membership-supported nonprofit arts organization founded in November 2002, serving the greater Tucson area and all of Southern Arizona. The Loft’s signature events are screenings with filmmaker Q&As, with more than 450 film industry professionals and scholars visiting the theatre to date. The Loft screens new independent American and foreign films and documentaries, along with classic art films, interactive events including a monthly short film contest, sing-a-longs and cult favorites. Every year The Loft has dozens of community partners working to create community and raise awareness of a myriad of issues.


FILM FORWARD is an international cultural exchange program designed to enhance cross-cultural understanding, collaboration and dialogue around the globe by engaging audiences through the exhibition of film and conversation with filmmakers. FILM FORWARD is an Initiative of Sundance Institute and The President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

Federal Partners

The President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities (PCAH) bridges the interests of American federal agencies and the private sector, supports special projects that increase participation and excellence in the arts and humanities, and helps incorporate these disciplines into White House objectives. First Lady Michelle Obama is the Honorary Chairman of the PCAH.

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) is a public agency dedicated to supporting excellence in the arts, both new and established; bringing the arts to all Americans; and providing leadership in arts education.

The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), an independent federal agency, provides support for documentary films, digital media and other educational programs in the humanities through competitive grant programs. The NEH is the nation’s leading supporter of research, education, preservation and public programs in the humanities.

The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) is an independent federal grant-making agency dedicated to creating strong libraries and museums that connect people to information and ideas. The IMLS works at the national level and in coordination with state and local organizations to sustain heritage, culture, and knowledge; enhance learning and innovation; and support professional development.

Sundance Institute

Founded by Robert Redford in 1981, Sundance Institute is a global, nonprofit cultural organization dedicated to nurturing artistic expression in film and theater, and to supporting intercultural dialogue between artists and audiences. The Institute promotes independent storytelling to unite, inform and inspire, regardless of geo-political, social, religious or cultural differences. Internationally recognized for its annual Sundance Film Festival and its artistic development programs for directors, screenwriters, producers, film composers, playwrights and theatre artists, Sundance Institute has nurtured such projects as Born into Brothels, Trouble the Water, Son of Babylon, Amreeka,An Inconvenient Truth, Spring Awakening, Light in the Piazza and Angels in America. Join Sundance Institute on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

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Media Contacts:

Sundance Institute:
Casey De La Rosa

Murphy PR:
John Murphy

The Loft Cinema:
Jeff Yanc

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