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October 26, 2011 6:10 AM
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Lucy Walker, Eddie Schmidt and More Join Cinelan and GE's Focus Forward Doc Initiative

Lucy Walker and Morgan Spurlock at the Toronto International Film Festival in September. Photo by Brian Brooks.

Cinelan and GE have announced additional filmmakers set to join their Focus Forward documentary initiative.

Filmmakers Lucy Walker (“Waste Land”), Eddie Schmidt (Producer, “Twist of Faith”), Phil Cox (“The Bengali Detective”), Leslie Iwerks (“The Pixar Story”) and Stanley Nelson (“Freedom Riders”) have joined previously announced filmmakers in the effort.

Spearheaded by Morgan Spurlock (“Super Size Me”) and Cinelan’s Karol Martesko-Fenster, the program was announced at the most recent Toronto Film Festival. Focus Forward will produce a series of three-minute short films about the power of human ideas and invention.

At the Doha Tribeca Film Festival, GE and Cinelan announced additional details about the initiative. The Focus Forward films will premiere as curated collections at the Sundance and Tribeca Film Festivals across the world beginning in 2012. The videos will also be available online through a partnership with Vimeo.

Full Cinelan release below:

GE and CINELAN today announced at the Doha Tribeca Film Festival that award-winning filmmakers Lucy Walker (“Waste Land”), Eddie Schmidt (Producer, “Twist of Faith”), Phil Cox (“The Bengali Detective”), Leslie Iwerks (“The Pixar Story”) and Stanley Nelson (“Freedom Riders”) would join its global documentary initiative Focus Forward, a series of 3-minute nonfiction films about the incredible human power of ideas and invention. The initiative was designed to educate and inspire a global audience and harness the power of filmmaking as a storytelling medium. CINELAN also announced an open invitation to non–North American filmmakers to explore contributing to the Focus Forward effort.

“We have been overwhelmed by the enthusiastic response to this program and are thrilled to be hearing from so many talented documentary filmmakers who want to be involved,” said CINELAN co-founder Karol Martesko-Fenster. “Focus Forward is a truly global initiative and we are encouraged that the universal appeal of its message ensures it will have a global face.”

In addition to the newly added participants, CINELAN will be working with Oscar- and award-winning documentary filmmakers including Joe Berlinger, Lixin Fan, Liz Garbus, Alex Gibney, Steve James, Barbara Kopple, Ross Kauffman, Morgan Spurlock and Jessica Yu to produce 30 three-minute films that will be featured at prestigious film festivals globally, followed by day-and-date distribution online to millions of viewers in strategic partnership with premier video-sharing site Vimeo. The Focus Forward films will premiere as curated collections at the Sundance and Tribeca Film Festivals and at major festivals in Asia, Australia, Europe, Africa, South America, and the Middle East beginning in 2012. The full roster of filmmakers, festival partners, and supporters will be announced throughout this fall.

Key executives from CINELAN, including co-founder Morgan Spurlock, Douglas Dicconson, Cinelan’s Managing Director for Special Projects, and Damon Smith, Director of Content Strategy and Acquisitions, are attending the Doha Tribeca Festival to explore possible partnerships with non–North American filmmakers and to discuss the rich potential of short-form documentary film. On October 28, Spurlock will join Geoff Gilmore, Chief Creative Officer of Tribeca Enterprises, for a discussion on the power of documentaries for change as part of the Doha Tribeca Film Festival’s “In Conversation With...” series.

“The more filmmakers we talk to about Focus Forward, the more we hear passionate feedback that the 3-minute format is ideal for storytellers who want to inspire audiences with an innovative idea,” said Dicconson. “With GE’s support, CINELAN is moving this concept to the next level so that professional filmmakers everywhere can get involved. We are thrilled with the partners we have on board and are looking forward to adding more.”

The next stop at a partner festival for the Focus Forward team will be at the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA) in November, with leading events to be announced soon. International filmmakers who wish to submit brief treatments for three-minute stories around the Focus Forward theme can write to focusforward@cinelan.com for more information.

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