The Sundance Institute announces its third year of Film Forward: Advancing Cultural Dialogue, in partnership with the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities, the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Institute of Museum and Library Services. The international touring program offers film screenings, workshops and discussions with filmmakers in eight locations in collaboration with local institutions and US Embassies. Film Forward’s aim is to foster dialogue, inspire curiosity and advance cultural understanding and awareness.
The films participating in the third year are Behn Zeitlin’s “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” Stacy Peralta’s “Bones Brigade: An Autobiography,” Jeff Orlowski’s “Chasing Ice,” Patricia Riggen’s “Under The Same Moon,” Julia Meltzer and Laura Nix’s “The Light in her Eyes,” Nancy Buirski’s “The Loving Story,” Jerry Rothwell’s “Town of Runners” and Musa Syeed’s “Valley of Saints.”
Sundance Institute’s Keri Putnam says: “The first two years of Film Forward connected films and filmmakers with audiences they might have never reached resulting in some remarkable and rich events; we look forward to building on these shared experiences in the third year.”
This year’s eight locations are: Imperial Valley, California; Mexicali, Mexico; San Juan, Puerto Rico; Maine; Washington State; Bosnia, Herzegovina; China; Taiwan; Colombia; and Jordan.
FILM FORWARD Year Three Films:
“Beasts of the Southern Wild” (Director: Benh Zeitlin) — In a forgotten but defiant bayou community cut off from the rest of the world by a sprawling levee, a six-year-old girl exists on the brink of orphanhood. Buoyed by her childish optimism and extraordinary imagination, she believes that the natural order is in balance with the universe until a fierce storm changes her reality. Desperate to repair the structure of her world in order to save her ailing father and sinking home, this tiny hero must learn to survive unstoppable catastrophes of epic proportions.
“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.