For as long as they’ve existed, movies have transcended and traversed cultural and political boundaries. From Charlie Chaplin to Mad Max: Fury Road, film has shown an unparalleled ability to touch audiences on many different levels—be they narrative, aesthetic or thematic—and to cross cultural and political boundaries.
This is why audiences sitting in a suburban movie theater outside of Seattle can be moved by the story of an Iranian couple’s divorce in Asghar Farhadi’s A Separation. Or why audiences in London can thrill to the kung-fu action of Ip Man. Or why moviegoers in Rio emerge from theatres of the The Force Awakens making action sound effects tinged with Portuguese accents.
Having long recognized the importance of fostering a cross-cultural dialogue rooted in filmmaking, Film Independent is thrilled to announce the launch of Global Media Makers—an innovative new international film exchange program presented in partnership with the U.S. Department of State.
“We’re honored and thrilled to be working with the State Department on this important new initiative,” said Film Independent President Josh Welsh.
Welsh added, “We live at a time when the cultivation of strong, independent voices that can communicate across cultural boundaries has never been more important.”
Brand new for 2016, Global Media Makers is a one-of-a-kind mentoring initiative aimed at connecting mid-career visual storytellers from around the world with leading U.S. entertainment industry professionals, including producers, directors, writers, network programmers, studio executives and more.
The aim of the program is to foster a supportive ongoing relationship between the U.S. and prominent mid-career and emerging international filmmaking talent.
“We’re investing in the development of international filmmakers and cultivating lasting professional networks,” says Evan Ryan, State Department Assistant Secretary of State for Education and Cultural Affairs, of the State Department’s partnership with Film Independent.
The inaugural Global Media Makers program will involve an intensive curriculum of specially tailored filmmaker mentorships, workshops and master classes with leading U.S. film professionals.
But how, exactly, is this all going to happen? By racking up a lot of airline miles, that’s how! Global Media Makers Fellows will travel to Los Angeles to receive state-of-the-art training to develop new projects, and Film Independent staff and U.S. mentors will travel to the Fellows’ home countries to continue the mentorships started in Los Angeles, and share their knowledge and experience with the wider media making community in those countries.
“Film has the power to transcend traditional barriers and provide an opportunity for dialogue on shared issues,” Assistant Secretary Ryan continued.
For its launch, twelve Global Media Makers Fellows will be selected from Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, and Turkey. These filmmakers will use the tools they refine in the program to develop independent, authentic content for distribution in their home countries.
Ultimately, the goal of Global Media Makers is to support a vibrant cross-pollination between media creators all over the world—and make great films in the process.
Program mentors include producer Effie T. Brown (Dear White People), documentarian Kirby Dick (The Hunting Ground), filmmaker Jay Duplass (Transparent, Cyrus), director Ava DuVernay (Selma), executive Nancy Utley (Fox Searchlight), producer Mary Sweeney (The Straight Story, Mulholland Drive) and many more.
For a complete list of mentors, please see the Global Media Makers announcement on our press release page. Mentors will advise Fellows through the development of new projects and help them expand their professional network within the United States.
As Global Media Makers ramps up, international film fans are encouraged to check back frequently with Film Independent’s blog and YouTube channel for continuing updates, Fellow profiles and original content related to the program and its participants.
Congratulations to our (yet-to-be-announced) Global Media Makers Fellows. Or—as they say in Turkey—“Tebrikler!”
Matt Warren / Film Independent Digital Content Manager