Sundance has been all over the world as of late. Sundance London debuted in early March, and the Institute has just returned from Beijing and Kunming, China, after its week-long "FILM FORWARD" initiative, which brought six Sundance titles and a host of workshops to emerging Chinese artists, filmmakers, students and film education faculty.
The films screened were "Another Earth," "Beginners," "On the Ice," "Somewhere Between, "Buck" and "Unfinished Spaces," with in-depth Q&A sessions with the filmmakers of the latter two films.
FILM FORWARD will be touring throughout the year, making as destinations places that probably would not otherwise feel the reach of Sundance, such as Puerto Rico, Columbia and Morocco. Also: Oklahoma.
According to the Sundance Institute, "the films participating in the FILM FORWARD program represent a powerful exploration of universal themes that provide an avenue for greater cultural understanding. The films illustrate coming-of-age stories, explore identity and reveal the transformation process, both political and personal."
Film Forward titles and tour dates below:
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 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 animation and live action 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: Josiah Patkotak, Frank Qutuq Irelan, Teddy Kyle Smith
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 intimate stories of four teenaged girls. They live in different parts of the US, in different kinds of families and are united by one thing: all four were adopted from China, because all four had birth parents who could not keep them, due to personal circumstances colliding with China's 'One Child Policy'.
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.
FILM FORWARD Tour Dates
Arizona, USA: February 27-March 1
China: March 14-22
India: March 15-22
Imperial Valley, USA: May 1-4
Morocco: May 6-13
Colombia: July 9-14
Puerto Rico: August 22-26
Oklahoma, USA: September 6-8
UNESCO, Paris: September dates tbd