By MCN Editor editor@moviecitynews.com

PRESIDENT’S COMMITTEE ON THE ARTS AND THE HUMANITIES (PCAH) AND SUNDANCE INSTITUTE TO PRESENT 10 AWARD-WINNING FILMS AT 10 LOCATIONS ON NATIONAL MALL

Winter’s Bone, Last Train Home, La Mission, Son of Babylon, Freedom Riders, A Small Act, Amreeka, Afghan Star, Boy, and Udaan to Be Screened One Night Only May 12 — in Partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities and
the Institute of Museum and Library Services

Expected Attendees Include PCAH Board Members
Kerry Washington, Forrest Whitaker, Alfre Woodard and Filmmakers From all 10 Films

WASHINGTON, D.C. – On May 12, the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities and the nonprofit Sundance Institute will showcase five U.S. and five international award-winning independent films as part of its Film Forward: Advancing Cultural Dialogue initiative on The National Mall. Film Forward pairs a U.S. and international filmmaker and sends them all over the world, using their films to engage local, underserved and youth audiences in dialogue. By doing so, Film Forward promotes mutual understanding and respect for other cultures and traditions that is at the heart of cultural exchange. All ten filmmakers will be in Washington DC to speak with audiences following their films, which will be presented simultaneously in this showcase event in partnership with the Smithsonian Institution, the world’s largest museum and research complex. General admission price for most screenings is $10.00; two of the screenings will be free to the public.
Film Forward, a joint venture of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities (PCAH) and Sundance Institute, in partnership with USA federal cultural partners the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), connects contemporary U.S. and international films and filmmakers with global audiences.  To date, Film Forward has presented documentary and narrative films to diverse audiences across the globe from university students and aspiring filmmakers in Tunisia, to rural village populations in Turkey and factory workers in China, along with visits planned to underserved U.S. audiences in Tennessee, Michigan and New York.

“Midway through the Film Forward schedule we are excited to bring the filmmakers to D.C. to share their experiences screening these films through U.S. Embassies and local partnerships over the last six months,” said Rachel Goslins, Executive Director, President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities.  “Here in the U.S. and abroad, this program is creating powerful dialogue and engagement that helps people from other places better understand America, and helps us better understand the world in which we live.”

“Sundance Institute has long believed that stories told on film have a unique ability to inspire discussions, to reflect the diversity of our world, and often to show common themes that unite us all,” said Keri Putnam, Sundance Institute Executive Director.  “We are truly honored to collaborate with our partners to reach new audiences and generate cross-cultural dialogue around the work of some of today’s top independent filmmakers.”

Tickets may be obtained at: https://residentassociates.org/ticketing/landing/film-forward-advancing-cultural-dialogue.aspx

The Film Forward films, screening times and venues are:

Freedom Riders/USA (Director: Stanley Nelson)-Veteran filmmaker Stanley Nelson’s inspirational documentary is the first feature-length film about the courageous band of civil-rights activists known as the Freedom Riders. Gaining impressive access to influential figures on both sides of the issue, Nelson chronicles a chapter of American history that stands as an astonishing testament to the accomplishment of youth and what can result from the incredible combination of personal conviction and the courage to organize against all odds.
Time:  6 p.m.
Location:  The National Archives, McGowan Theater, 700 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Admission:  FREE ADMISSION

La Mission/USA (Director and Screenwriter: Peter Bratt) -A traditional, Latino father in San Francisco’s Mission District struggles to come to terms with his teenage son’s homosexuality. Credited by Latino media as being both authentic and genuine to various aspects of American Hispanic cultures. Cast: Benjamin Bratt, Erika Alexander, Jeremy Ray Valdez, Talisa Soto Bratt, Jesse Borrego.
Time:  6 p.m.
Location:  The Smithsonian American Art Museum/The National Portrait Gallery, McEvoy Auditorium, 8th and G, NW Admission Price:  $10.00

Udaan/India (Director and Screenwriter: Vikramaditya Motwane)-Following his expulsion from boarding school, Rohan returns to the small industrial town of Jamshedpur. After 8 years away, he finds himself closeted with an authoritarian father and a younger half brother whom he didn’t even know existed.   Udaan explores deep-rooted family dynamics and a triumph of the human spirit.
Cast: Rajat Barmecha, Ronit Roy, Aayan Boradia, Ram Kapoor.
Timea:    6 p.m.
Location:  Freer Gallery of Art/Eugene & Agnes E. Meyer Auditorium, 1050 Independence Ave. SW
Admission price: $10.00

BOY/New Zealand (Director and screenwriter: Taika Waititi)-When his father returns home after many years away, 11-year-old Boy and his little brother Rocky must reconcile reality with the fantasy dad they created in their imagination. Cast: Taika Waititi, James Rolleston, Te Aho Eketone
Time:    6:15 p.m.
Location:  National Museum of the American Indian, Rasmuson Theater, 4th St. and Independence Ave. SW
Admission price: $10.00

The Last Train Home/Canada (Director: Lixin Fan)-Getting a train ticket in China proves a towering ordeal as a migrant worker family embarks on a journey, along with 200 million other rural countrymen to reunite with their distant family.
Time:    6:30 p.m.
Location:    S. Dillon Ripley Center,  Discovery Theater, Room 3111, 1100 Jefferson Drive, SW
Admission price: $10.00

A Small Act/USA (Director: Jennifer Arnold)-A young Kenyan’s life changes dramatically when his education is sponsored by a Swedish stranger. Years later, he founds his own scholarship program to replicate the kindness he once received.
Time:    6:00 p.m.
Location:   Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Ring Auditorium, Independence Ave. and 7th St. SW
Admission price: $10.00

Afghan Star/Afghanistan/UK (Director: Havana Marking)-After 30 years of war and Taliban rule, Pop Idol has come to television in Afghanistan: millions are watching and voting for their favorite singer. This film follows the dramatic stories of four contestants as they risk their lives to sing.
Time:    6:30 p.m.
Location:  Smithsonian Institution S. Dillon Ripley Center Lecture Hall, 1100 Jefferson Drive
Admission price $10.00

Amreeka/USA (Director and Screenwriter: Cherien Dabis)-When a divorced Palestinian woman and her teenage son move to rural Illinois, they find their new lives replete with challenges. Cast: Nisreen Faour, Melkar Muallem, Hiam Abbass, Yussuf Abu-Warda, Alia Shawkat, Joseph Ziegler.
Time:    6:30 p.m.
Location:  National Museum of American History, Carmichael Auditorium, 12th to 14th Streets. NW
Admission price: $10.00

Son of Babylon/Iraq (Director: Mohamed Al Daradji; Screenwriters: Mohamed Al-Daradji, Jennifer Norridge, Mithal Ghazi)-In the days after the fall of Saddam Hussein, a young Kurdish boy and his grandmother venture through Iraq on a quest to find their missing father/son. Cast: Yasser Talib, Shazda Hussein, Bashir Al-Majid.
Time:    6:30 p.m.
Location:  National Gallery of Art, Auditorium, 4th and Constitution Avenue NW
Admission price:  FREE

Winter’s Bone/USA (Director: Debra Granik; Screenwriters: Debra Granik and Anne Rosellini)-An unflinching Ozark Mountain girl hacks through dangerous social terrain as she hunts down her missing father while trying to keep her family intact. Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, John Hawkes, Dale Dickey, Garret Dillahunt, Kevin Breznahan.
Time:    6:30 p.m.
Location:   National Museum of Natural History, Baird Auditorium,1400 Constitution Avenue NE
Admission price: $10.00

The Film Forward event in Washington D.C. will also give participating directors an opportunity to visit the U.S. Department of State to report on their recent trips and learn more about U.S. cultural programs overseas.  The Sundance Institute delegation will include Executive Director of Sundance Institute Kerri Putnam along with leadership and Program Directors.  Committee members the PCAH are expected, including Kerry Washington, Forest Whitaker and Alfre Woodard among others.   The heads of the  partner agencies (NEA, NEH, IMLS) will also attend along with Congressional Representatives.  Film Forward directors in attendance will include: Debra Granik (Winters Bone), Jennifer Arnold (A Small Act), Cherien Dabis (Amreeka), Stanley Nelson (Freedom Riders), Peter Bratt (La Mission), Martin Herring (Executive Producer, Afghan Star), Taika Waititi (Boy), Mohamad Al-Daradji (Son of Babylon), Vikramaditya Motwane (Udaan) and Lixin Fan (Last Train Home).

The Film Forward films represent fresh explorations of universal themes. Boy, La Mission, Udaan and Winter’s Bone navigate the transition to adulthood and re-define family in broadly different circumstances; Amreeka and Last Train Home depict contemporary challenges of immigration and internal migration for those seeking work and a better life; Afghan Star explores the story of youthful dreams and the clash of global pop culture in a traditional Muslim society; Son of Babylon focuses on the enduring nature of family love in a society decimated by war.  Finally, exploring the impact of individual and collective action are:  A Small Act which shows the impact of one individual’s choice to give, within a global context, and Freedom Riders depicts the real-life drama of a small group of courageous youth who risked everything 50 years ago, and transformed American life.

The National Mall
The Mall is the heart of the Nation’s Capital and of the entire United States of America. Here, the nation celebrates, honors, and demonstrates its commitment to democracy. www.nationalmall.org/
U.S.A. Arts Organizations
The President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities (PCAH) is an advisory Committee to the White House on cultural policy.  It bridges the interests of American federal agencies and the private sector, supports special projects that increase participation and excellence in the arts and humanities, and helps incorporate these disciplines into White House objectives. First Lady Michelle Obama is the Honorary Chairman of the PCAH.

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) is a public agency dedicated to supporting excellence in the arts, both new and established; bringing the arts to all Americans; and providing leadership in arts education.

The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) serves and strengthens our Republic by promoting excellence in the humanities and conveying the lessons of history to all Americans. The NEH is the nation’s leading supporter of research education, preservation and public programs in the humanities.

The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) is an independent federal grant making agency dedicated to creating strong libraries and museums that connect people to information and ideas. The IMLS works at the national level and in coordination with state and local organizations to sustain heritage, culture, and knowledge; enhance learning and innovation; and support professional development.

Sundance Institute
Founded by Robert Redford in 1981, Sundance Institute is a global, nonprofit cultural organization dedicated to nurturing artistic expression in film and theater, and to supporting intercultural dialogue between artists and audiences. The Institute promotes independent storytelling to unite, inform and inspire, regardless of geo-political, social, religious or cultural differences. Internationally recognized for its annual Sundance Film Festival and its artistic development programs for directors, screenwriters, producers, film composers, playwrights and theatre artists, Sundance Institute has nurtured such projects as Born into Brothels, Trouble the Water, Son of Babylon, Amreeka, An Inconvenient Truth, Spring Awakening, Light in the Piazza and Angels in America.  www.sundance.org

Sundance Institute greatly appreciates the support of Hilton Worldwide for their hospitality and contribution of hotel rooms for the Film Forward tour and filmmaker Gala.

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DEADLINE: How does a visualist feel about people watching your films on a phone or VOD?
REFN: It depends on what kind of movie you make. We had great success with Only God Forgives on multiple platforms in the U.S. Young people will decide how they see it, when they want to see it. Don’t try to fight it. Embrace it. That’s a wonderful opportunity. We’re at the most exciting time since the invention of the wheel, in terms of creativity because distribution and accessibility have changed everything. A camera is still a camera whether it’s digital or not; there’s still sound; an actor is an actor. Ninety-nine percent of what you do is going to be seen on a smart phone – I know this is the greatest thing ever made because it allows people to choose, watching what you do on this format or go into a theater and see it on a screen. That means more people than ever will see what I do, which is personally satisfying in terms of vanity. But you have to be able to adapt, to accept things in different order and length than we’re used to. We are in a very, very exciting time.
~ Nic Refn to Jen Yamato

DEADLINE: You mention Tarantino, who with Christopher Nolan and a few other giants, saved film stock from extinction. To him, showing a digital film in a theater is the equivalent of watching TV in public. Make an argument for why digital is a good film making canvas.
REFN: Costwise, it’s a very effective way for young people to start making movies. You can make your movie on an iPhone. It’s wonderful seeing how my own children use technology to enhance creativity. For me it’s a wonderful canvas. Sure, I love grain in film. I love celluloid. But I also like creativity. I like crayons, I like pencils, I like paint. It’s all relative. Technology is more inclusive. A hundred years ago when film was invented, it was an elitist club. Very few people got to make it, very few people controlled it and very few people owned it. A hundred years later, storytelling through images is everyone’s domain. It’s ultimate capitalism. There are no rules, and no barriers and no Hays Code. Where does this go in another hundred years? I don’t know but I would love to see it.
~ Nic Refn To Jen Yamato