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Sundance Institute’s FILM FORWARD Lands in Arizona, February 27-March 1: ‘Beginners,’ ‘On the Ice’ & More

Sundance Institute's FILM FORWARD Lands in Arizona, February 27-March 1: 'Beginners,' 'On the Ice' & More

The Sundance Institute’s FILM FORWARD: Advancing Cultural Dialogue initiative kicks off February 27 in Tucson and Sells, Arizona. Six films will screen: Ali Samadi Ahadi’s “The Green Wave,” Andrew Okpeaha MacLean’s “On the Ice,” Mike Mills’ “Beginners,” Jasmila Zbanic’s “Grbavica,” Linda Goldstein Knowlton’s “Somewhere Between” and Benjamin Murray & Alysa Nahmias’ “Unfinished Spaces.” Three of the films’ directors (Ahadi, Maclean, Mills) will attend and participate in Q & A’s, workshops, discussions and meet-and-greets. Sundance’s Keri Putnam hopes that “this collection of films and events sparks imaginations, inspires cross-cultural dialogue and opens up a real exchange of ideas and issues.”

More about the initiative, films and events below:

FILM FORWARD: Advancing Cultural Dialogue, an initiative of Sundance Institute and the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities in collaboration with the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services, takes place in Arizona from February 27 through March 1, 2012. In collaboration with The Loft Cinema, FILM FORWARD presents screenings of six films as well as personal appearances and workshops with filmmakers from three of the titles at a variety of community locations in Tucson and Sells, Arizona.

Filmmakers for three of the films, Ali Samadi Ahadi (The Green Wave), Andrew Okpeaha MacLean (On The Ice) and Mike Mills (Beginners), will be in attendance to participate in Q&As, moderated discussions, workshops and meet-and-greet events with the Tucson and Sells communities. All three films will screen at the Loft Cinema in Tucson and also in Sells at the Tohono O’odham Nation Recreation Center. On The Ice will be followed by a discussion on Native voices at the Recreation Center. Two workshops will be presented in Tucson at the University of Arizona: Documentary Filmmaking, Social Media and Arab Spring with Ali Samadi Ahadi following his screening of The Green Wave and Mike Mills will lead a student Script to Screen workshop on how to transition from a short filmmaker to a feature filmmaker; clips and short films from Mills’ body of work will be presented and discussed after a screening of his feature film, Beginners. There will also be a screening of On The Ice followed by a special moderated discussion for the local refugee community at the Grace St. Paul’s Church.

The films participating in the FILM FORWARD program represent a powerful exploration of universal themes that provide an avenue for greater cultural understanding. All 10 films collectively illustrate coming-of-age stories, explore identity and reveal the transformation process, both political and personal. On The Ice navigates the rocky landscape of adolescence; The Green Wave depicts the challenges and resourcefulness of a country and people in conflict; Beginners explores the relationship between father and son and the endurance of love; Unfinished Spaces shows the collision between art and politics; Grbavica reveals the scars of war as a mother and daughter struggle through post-war Sarajevo and ultimately the strength of family; Somewhere Between follows the story of four Chinese-American girls struggling with their Identity as they grow into young women. FILM FORWARD mirrors the diversity of backgrounds and viewpoints it promotes, underscoring the importance of mutual understanding and respect for other cultures and traditions that is at the heart of cultural exchange.

All FILM FORWARD screenings in Tucson and Sells are free and open to the public. A full schedule of screenings and events as well as a complete list of outreach partners is available here and here.


“Beginners” / USA (Writer/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.

“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.

“The Green Wave” / Iran (Director: Ali Samadi Ahadi)
When the ultra-conservative populist Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was confirmed to the office of President in Iran following the June 12, 2009 elections, the ensuing protest demonstrations were broken up with brutal attacks by government militia. This documentary-collage, makes use of Facebook, Twitter, personal videos and blog posts to illustrates the dramatic events behind this 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.

“Somewhere Between” / USA (Director: Linda Goldstein Knowlton)
This film tells the story of four teenaged girls adjusting to life in the U.S. after their Chinese birth parents are forced to part with them due to rural poverty and China’s “one-child” policy. The film provides an intimate look into the lives of teenage adoptees as they come to terms with their unique identities.

“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.

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