Sundance Institute Returns to Morocco With Film Forward: Advancing Cultural Dialogue From May 7 to 1

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Rabat, Morocco— Sundance Institute in collaboration with the U.S. Embassy in Morocco will present FILM FORWARD: Advancing Cultural Dialogue in cities throughout the Kingdom of Morocco from May 7 to 12, 2012.  FILM FORWARD, a program that promotes cultural dialogue through independent documentary and narrative film, will have a special advanced screening in the capital city of Rabat on May 3 of the acclaimed documentary film Buck, at the International Festival of Wildlife and Environmental Film (FIFALE).  The initiative officially kicks off on May 7 with a screening of Somewhere Between at the Agdal Cultural Center in Rabat hosted by U.S. Ambassador Samuel L. Kaplan.

The cultural program which features independent films, workshops, and filmmaker appearances, will  be presented in multiple venues in Rabat, Oujda/Berkane, Khouribga, Beni Mellal and Fez before ending in Casablanca on May 12 with a screening of Another Earth at the International Festival of Student Film (FIFE).  Building on last year’s successful presentation in Morocco, the program is meant to engage students and community groups whom do not have access to this type of programming. FILM FORWARD screenings are free of charge for the general public.  

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. 

“Sundance Institute, in collaboration with our colleagues at the U.S. Embassy, is pleased to have the opportunity to return with FILM FORWARD to the vibrant Kingdom of Morocco,“ said Keri Putnam, Executive Director of Sundance Institute.  “Morocco is a country that maintains a strong cultural heritage yet also celebrates artistic expression and encourages communication between diverse cultures.  This makes them ideal hosts for FILM FORWARD.”

“Film is an integral part of our cultural programming and a fantastic way to reach out to youth and underserved audiences,” said Christopher Fitzgerald, Counselor for Public Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Rabat.  “We are thrilled to have FILM FORWARD back again in Morocco to continue the cultural conversation we began last year.”

Filmmakers Mike Cahill (Another Earth) and Linda Goldstein Knowlton (Somewhere Between) travel with FILM FORWARD to participate in Q&As, discussions, workshops and meet-and-greet events in the selected cities.  They will be joined by Moroccan filmmakers Rabii El Jawhari and Hamid Basket, who will serve as moderators and cultural advisors.  For a complete schedule of events in Morocco, please visit:

Sundance Institute’s Managing Director, Jill Miller, and FILM FORWARD Manager, Brittany Ballard, will be in attendance.  A consortium of local cultural and government organizations will support the FILM FORWARD initiative in Morocco including:  Agdal Cultural Center, American Language Center/Arabic Language Institute of Fez, Arts et Métiers Association, Hassan II High School, Oujda American Corner, Oum El Koura Language School, Mohamed I University, Ribat Al Fath Association, School of Cinema Professions of Casablanca (EMCC), Sultan Moulay Slimane University and Sidi Mohammed Ben Abdellah University.

The films participating in the FILM FORWARD program in Morocco represent a powerful exploration of universal themes that provide an avenue for greater cultural understanding. The Film Forward films collectively illustrate coming-of-age stories, explore identity and reveal the transformation process, both political and personal. Somewhere Between follows the story of four Chinese-American girls struggling with their Identity as they grow into young women and Another Earth  explores the lives of two strangers whose lives become intertwined after the discovery of a duplicate Earth. Buck is , the story of Buck Brannaman and his extraordinary work with horses.

A total of 10 films and filmmakers from the U.S. and abroad were selected by Sundance Institute and the partners to participate in the 2012 FILM FORWARD program, traveling to four domestic and five international locations. Filmmakers participate in screenings, extended Q&As, workshops, and master classes at Universities, film and cultural centers, museums, libraries and other community, educational, and cultural venues cultivating engaged dialogue, fostering appreciation of other viewpoints, and developing new audiences for independent film.

2012 FILM FORWARD Films Slate

Another Earth / USA (Director: Mike Cahill) — After the discovery of a duplicate Earth, tragedy strikes, and the lives of these strangers become irrevocably intertwined.  When one of them is presented with the opportunity to travel to the other Earth and embrace an alternative reality, which new life will they choose?  Cast: Brit Marling (also a co-writer), William Mapother, Matthew-Lee Erlbach

Beginners / USA (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. Cast: Ewan McGregor, Christopher Plummer, Melanie Laurent

Bran Nue Dae / Australia (Director: Rachel Perkins) — This musical, set in the Summer of 1969, tells the story of a young man who flees the Catholic mission where he is studying to join the priesthood.  He journeys across Australia on a life-changing journey that ultimately leads him back home.  Cast: Rocky McKenzie, Jessica Mauboy, Geoffrey Rush

Buck / USA (Director: Cindy Meehl) — BUCK profiles famous “horse whisperer” Buck Brannaman, tracing his life from an abusive childhood to his career as a world-renowned horse handler and trainer. By teaching people to communicate with horses through instinct, not punishment, he frees the spirit of the horse and its human comrade.

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.  Cast: Mirjana Karanovic, Luna Mijovic, Leon Lucev.

The Green Wave / Germany (Director: Ali Samadi Ahadi) — Ali Samadi Ahadi’s timely documentary reveals how Iranian civilians reacted to the 2009 Iranian Presidential elections.  Using actual footage of the protests as well as interviews with Iranian bloggers and political leaders, Ahadi paints a compelling portrait of a nation on the brink of 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. Cast: Frank Irelan, Adamina Kerr, John Miller

Senna / UK (Director: Asif Kapadia) —The story of Ayrton Senna, perhaps the greatest race car driver who ever lived, is an epic tale that literally twists at every turn. Facing titanic struggles, he conquered Formula One and became a global icon who was idolized in his home country.

Somewhere Between / USA (Director: Linda Goldstein Knowlton) – Somewhere Between tells the story of four teenaged girls adjusting to life in the US after their Chinese birth parents are forced to part with them due to 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 (Directors: Benjamin Murray, Alysa Nahmias)— Fidel Castro invites 3 exiled architects back to Cuba to finish work on 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
Imperial Valley: May 1-4
Morocco: May 6-12
Colombia: July 9-14
Puerto Rico: August 22-26
Oklahoma: September 6-8
UNESCO, Paris: September dates tbd

Already Completed:
Arizona – Feb 26-March 1
India – March 15-22
China – March 15-22

U.S. Embassy Rabat
The American Embassy in Morocco is composed of several offices and organizations all working under the auspices of the Embassy and at the direction of the Ambassador, who is the President’s personal representative to the Kingdom of Morocco.

Morocco was one of the first countries to accord recognition of the new American republic when it allowed American ships access to Moroccan ports in 1777, shortly after the outbreak of the American Revolution. Less than ten years later, the two countries signed a Treaty of Friendship and Peace which was renewed for an indefinite term in 1836. As testament to the special nature of the U.S.-Moroccan relationship, the Moroccan city of Tangier is home to the oldest U.S. diplomatic property in the world, and the only building on foreign soil that is listed in the U.S. National Register of Historic Places, the American Legation in Tangier.
Ever since these early days, the U.S. and Morocco have shared a close and abiding relationship across the Atlantic Ocean. Our shared interests include the economic prosperity of both countries, the pursuit of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East region, and the maintenance of regional security and cooperation, and sustainable development and protection for the environment.

FILM FORWARD: Advancing Cultural Dialogue
FILM FORWARD: Advancing Cultural Dialogue 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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