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GRANTING: Ten Years to the Day in Global Film Funding

GRANTING: Ten Years to the Day in Global Film Funding

Ten years ago today, GFI announced the recipients of the inaugural granting program, and look at them now…

The Global Film Initiative announced its most recent grant recipients from the Winter 2012 granting cycle. The list of grantees features 11 works from both emerging and established filmmakers, representing 10 different countries around the world, and each project demonstrates great promise and vision. As Susan Weeks Coulter, Founder and Board Chair, said in the announcement: “We are pleased to identify and support these eleven unique and powerful narratives.”

Celebrating a decade in international independent film funding with this most recent granting cycle. Ten years ago to the day, the very first round of grantees were announced on May 16, 2003. In celebration of this milestone, they are taking a look back on the films GFI has funded over the years.

Again and again, their grantees represent filmmakers who are not afraid to challenge convention–to make sometimes dangerous, but always fiercely truthful, statements about the society and the world that reflect them. These films often represent new perspectives and voices in storytelling–voices which are too often silenced or misrepresented in the mainstream–and hold promise in heralding a new generation of filmmakers.

Click to view the interactive map!

10 Years in The Global Film Initiative Granting Program:

The Global Film Initiative granting program distributes 15-20 filmmaker awards annually. Since 2003, The Global Film Initiative has awarded 143 grants to 58 nations.


BY REGION: North Africa–8 (5.6%), Sub-Saharan Africa–19 (13.3%), East Asia–9 (6.3%), Central Asia–5 (3.5%), Southeast Asia–16 (11.2%), South Asia–9 (6.3%), Middle East–21 (14.7%), Latin America–44 (30.7%), Eastern Europe–11 (7.7%), Caribbean–1 (0.7%)

Fun fact!

  • Argentina is the nation with the most GFI grants at 11 awards!

Did you know?


Only a sliver of perspectives are represented in most films that get funding and are produced. GFI works to broaden the horizons of American film-goers by supporting and distributing independent, international cinema–introducing previously unheard voices through film.

In particular, despite the often under-representation of women’s voices in film and media, we are fortunate to have received many women filmmaker applicants; roughly 30% of our grants were awarded to women filmmakers in the last ten years.

GFI also acts as a spring board for new storytellers: roughly 30% of GFI’s grants have gone to the first feature films of filmmakers, male or female. GFI has continually provided access to new stories and storytelling in cinema since its first round of  grantees, all of which were debut features: BUFFALO BOYHOLLOW CITYON EACH SIDE, and ANOTHER MAN’S GARDEN.

Filmmaker Maria João Ganga 

Of their incredible list of grantees, a few films and filmmakers stand out for their sheer courage and innovation. The Global Film Initiative is proud to stand by and support these incredible works and individuals.

HOLLOW CITY, dir. Maria João Ganga. Among the first ever grant recipients, Ganga’s incredible story of one war orphan’s journey across the dangerous landscape of post-war Luanda is not only just the second film to be made after the end of Angola’s civil war in 1991. It is also the very first film to be made by an Angolan woman ever.

RAMCHAND PAKISTANI, dir. Mehreen Jabbar. This film, a Spring 2007 grantee, about a young boy who accidentally crosses the border between Pakistan and India, is one of the first Pakistani films to feature Hindu main characters.

KARAOKE, dir. Chris Chan Fui Chong. This film from GFI’s Winter 2009 grantees, which illustrates the changing climate of contemporary Malaysia through karaoke videos, was only the second Malaysian film to be featured at the Cannes Film Festival.

COLORED LIKE THE NIGHT, dir. Agliberto Melendez. GFI is proud to be supporting Dominican filmmaker Melendez’s sophomore film about the final address of revolutionary mayoral candidate José Francisco Peña Gómez. His first film A ONE WAY TICKET (1989) was the first full-length feature of the Dominican Republic!

BEATRIZ’S WAR, dir. Bety Reis. This film, from the Summer 2011 grantees, is the first full-length feature film out of East Timor!


Of the 143 projects that GFI has funded, 75% of those completed are award-winning or nominated.

Did you know?

  • 10 of the granted films have been submitted to the Academy Award’s “Best Foreign Language Film” category! These films are: CINEMA, ASPRINS AND VULTURES (Brazil’s submission, 2006), I AM FROM TITOV VELES (Macedonia’s submission, 2009), WHISKY (Uruguay’s submission, 2004), THE BUFFALO BOY (Vietnam’s submission, 2006), BORDER CAFE (Iran’s submission, 2006), WHEN I SAW YOU (Palestine’s submission, 2012), BEAUTY (South Africa’s submission, 2011), OCTOBER (Peru’s submission, 2010), CRAB TRAP (Columbia’s submission, 2009), and ALIVE! (Albania’s submission, 2009).

From supporting both the development of independent cinema around the world, to the hundreds of accolades these individual films have collectively received, they can’t be more proud of their first decade of support–and cannot wait to see what GFI’s grantees accomplish in the next 10 years!

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