By Brian Brooks | Indiewire September 13, 2011 at 7:8AM
With underwriting from General Electric and the support of the Sundance and Tribeca film festivals, video publisher Cinelan is partnering with a cross-section of top nonfiction filmmakers on a short-film series spotlighting the "human power of ideas and invention."
Dubbed "Focus Forward - short films, big ideas," the series' initial group of filmmakers include Joe Berlinger, Lixin Fan, Liz Garbus, Alex Gibney, Steve James, Barbara Kopple, Ross Kauffman and Jessica Yu.
The project is spearheaded by Morgan Spurlock ("Super Size Me") and Cinelan's Karol Martesko-Fenster. The full roster of filmmakers and festival partners will be unveiled throughout the fall.
Martesko said backer GE will have no creative influence or film ownership.
Under the plan unveiled at the Toronto International Film Festival Monday morning, filmmakers will produce 30 three-minute films that will be featured at film festivals around the world including Sundance, Tribeca and the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam, followed by day-and-date distribution online. Video sharing site Vimeo will power the multi-platform distribution component.
Among those festival reps at the breakfast were Sundance Film Festival director John Cooper and Tribeca Film Festival executive director Nancy Schafer.
Stories will range from spotlights on scientists, engineers and economists to mathematicians, physicists, financiers as well as ordinary citizens who have reshaped the world through their efforts and inventions.
"We want filmmakers to embrace this concept and deliver an authentic documentary film in their own voice," Spurlock said in a statement. "Since these films will highlight exceptional people and world-changing ideas that have impacted the course of human development - stories with a broad international reach - it made sense for us to partner with GE, a company whose own mission is in alignment with our goals for this project."
"This is a groundbreaking showcase for documentary film with a truly global reach, and it comes at a time when there's a strong resurgence of interest in short nonfiction film," said TIFF documentary programmer Thom Powers. "I think Cinelan is showing true leadership in how they've put it all together."