FILM FORWARD: Advancing Cultural Dialogue Presented for Third Year In China

Sundance Institute and U.S. Federal Cultural Agencies Collaborated with The U.S. Embassy Beijing and CNEX Foundation Limited to Host Free Screenings, Discussions and Roundtables

Posted Jun 18, 2013

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Filmmakers Jeff Orlowski, Chasing Ice
Patricia Riggen, Under The Same Moon (La Misma Luna)

Los Angeles, CA — Sundance Institute and the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities announced today that FILM FORWARD: Advancing Cultural Dialogue concluded its third year hosting free screenings of seven films, panel discussions and artist roundtables in China.  Filmmakers Jeff Orlowski and Patricia Riggen traveled with the program and participated in film events at Beijing Film Academy, Inside Out Museum, Chinese Academy of Drama, Chinese University of Communications, Anhui University, Kafka Bookstore, and CNEX Foundation. For filmmaker blogs and a recap of events visit www.sundance.org/filmforward.

FILM FORWARD, a partnership of Sundance Institute and U.S. federal cultural agencies, is a touring program that offers film screenings, workshops and discussions designed to foster dialogue and cross-cultural understanding. It uses the power of cinema to promote broader understanding, inspire curiosity and enhance awareness of shared stories and values across generations, language, education and borders. The partnering federal agencies are the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities and Institute of Museum and Library Services.

Keri Putnam, Executive Director of Sundance Institute said, “The opportunity to connect with Chinese audiences through FILM FORWARD for  a third year provided an invaluable moment for creative cultural exchange. We are grateful  to our partners from The U.S. Embassy In China, CNEX and all the locations that provided space and support for this unique film program.” 

La Misma Luna Director Patricia Riggen said, “Talking with audiences in China was incredibly inspiring.  I was delighted to see that many of the eloquent and charismatic students at the venues were women.  It made me realize that young modern women around the world are facing a similar struggle of balancing life and a career.”

Chasing Ice Director Jeff Orlowski said, “The visual evidence of the world's changing glaciers doesn't need any translation.  It was an incredible experience to discuss climate change in China and find a shared passion for the environment because we all need to do everything we can to address the issue together.”

FILM FORWARD’s primary audience is communities without ready access to independent films, students and the local filmmaking community in each region. Common themes explored in the films include issues surrounding family, friendship and community, as well as the intersection of tradition and modern culture.

Sundance Institute staff members who traveled with the program were: FILM FORWARD Consultant Jill Miller and FILM FORWARD Manager Jacqueline Carlson.

FILM FORWARD Films:

Bones Brigade: An Autobiography (Director: Stacy Peralta) — A gang of disenfranchised kids reject mainstream culture, channel their controlled desperation into a loser activity and redefine winning in the process. Mentored by a former world champion skateboarder, the "Bones Brigade" became history's most influential skateboarding team. Their countercultural impact continues to affect change with best selling video games and books and millions of kids who embrace skateboarding around the world.
 

Chasing Ice (Director: Jeff Orlowski) — Acclaimed
environmental photographer James Balog was once a skeptic about climate change.  But through his Extreme Ice Survey, he discovers undeniable evidence of our changing planet.  Chasing Ice reveals Balog's hauntingly beautiful, multi-year time-lapse videos of vanishing glaciers across the Arctic, all while delivering fragile hope to our carbon-powered planet.
 
La Misma Luna (Under The Same Moon) (Director: Patricia Riggen) — Even across thousands of miles, the special bond between a mother and son can never be broken. It gives hope to Carlitos, a scrappy nine-year-old boy whose mother, Rosario, has gone to America to build a better life for both of them. While Rosario struggles for a brighter future, fate forces Carlitos’ hand and he embarks on an extraordinary journey to find her.
 

The Light in Her Eyes  (Directors: Julia Meltzer and Laura Nix) — Houda al-Habash, a conservative woman preacher in Damascus, Syria, calls girls to the practice of Islam, teaching them that pursuing their ambitions is a way of worshipping God.  Shot right before the uprising in Syria erupted, The Light in Her Eyes offers an extraordinary portrait of a leader who challenges the women of her community to live according to Islam, without giving up their dreams.

 
The Loving Story (Director: Nancy Buirski) — A  racially-charged criminal trial and a heart-rending love story converge in this documentary about Mildred and Richard Loving, a part-black, part-Indian woman married to a white man in Jim Crow-era Virginia. Thrown into rat-infested jails and exiled from their hometown for 25 years, the Lovings fought back and changed history.
 
Town of Runners (Director: Jerry Rothwell) — Town of Runners is a feature documentary about young people from the Ethiopian rural town of Bekoji, whose runners have won 10 Olympic Gold medals in the last 20 years. The film tells the story of three teenagers who want to follow in their heroes’ footsteps, as they move from school track to national competition and from childhood to adulthood, trying to run their way to a different life.
 
Valley of Saints (Director and screenwriter: Musa Syeed) Using Kashmir’s picturesque Dal Lake as its backdrop and underpinned by the political unrest in the region, this moving drama explores the relationship between two best friends and the female researcher studying environmental degradation who threatens to distract them from their dreams of escape.

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 was established by Congress in 1965 as an independent agency of the federal government. To date, the NEA has awarded more than $4 billion to support artistic excellence, creativity, and innovation for the benefit of individuals and communities. The NEA extends its work through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector. To join the discussion on how art works, visit the NEA at arts.gov.

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. Additional information about the National Endowment for the Humanities and its grant programs is available at: www.neh.gov.  

The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation's 123,000 libraries and 17,500 museums. Our mission is to inspire libraries and museums to advance innovation, lifelong learning, and cultural and civic engagement. Our grant making, policy development, and research help libraries and museums deliver valuable services that make it possible for communities and individuals to thrive. To learn more, visit http://www.imls.gov and follow @US_IMLS on Twitter and on Facebook.

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, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.

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Media Contacts:

Sarah Eaton
Sundance Institute
+1 310.360.1981
Sarah_Eaton@sundance.org

Elizabeth Latenser
Sundance Institute
+1 435.658.3456
Elizabeth_Latenser@sundance.org

Film stills and director headshots available upon request. Email press@sundance.org.

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