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Film Independent Launches Fourth Year of Global Media Makers

18 Fellows Selected from South Asia, the Middle East and Turkey

$30,000 in Microgrants Awarded

Andrew Ahn, Jay Duplass, Nicole Perlman, Justin Simien, Mary Sweeney, Lulu Wang, Bradford Young to Mentor

LOS ANGELES, Sept. 24, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Film Independent announced today the 18 filmmakers (9 men and 9 women) selected from Bangladesh, India, Lebanon, Nepal, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka and Turkey to participate in year four of Global Media Makers (GMM), an innovative mentoring initiative and cultural exchange program designed to foster relationships between American filmmakers and industry professionals with international filmmakers from diverse regions of the world. GMM is supported through a partnership between Film Independent and the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. 

This year's mentors include Andrew Ahn (Spa Night), Jay Duplass (Room 104), Craig Mazin (Chernobyl), Nicole Perlman (Guardians of the Galaxy), Justin Simien (Dear White People), Mary Sweeney (Mulholland Drive), Lulu Wang (The Farewell) and Bradford Young (Selma). In addition, this year $30,000 in microgrants have been awarded to past GMM Fellows to foster a culture of community building and mentorship in their countries.

"As we enter our fourth year of the program, we're inspired by the ripple effects Film Independent and the Global Media Makers programs are having on multiple generations of filmmakers across the globe," said Maria Raquel Bozzi, Senior Director of Education and International Initiatives at Film Independent. "To see veteran filmmakers Jay Duplass, Nicole Perlman, Mary Sweeney, and Bradford Young and Film Independent Fellows Andrew Ahn, Justin Simien, and Lulu Wang mentor is very rewarding, as is seeing our Global Media Makers Fellows create programs for their peers and underserved youth in their own countries with the support of our microgrants."

Past Creative Advisors and Mentors include Len Amato (President, HBO Films), Effie Brown (Dear White People), Rodrigo Garcia (Nine Lives), Laura Kim (SVP Film Marketing, Participant Media), Alix Madigan (Winter's Bone), Stephen Mirrione (The Revenant), Robin Swicord (Memoirs of a Geisha) and Ron Yerxa (Little Miss Sunshine). Since its inception in 2016, over 225 U.S. Mentors from the entertainment industry have participated in the program to offer project support and networking opportunities and foster creative connections for participating international filmmakers.

The program serves filmmakers from 14 countries – Algeria, Bangladesh, Egypt, India, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Nepal, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Tunisia, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates. A total of 49 Fellows have participated in GMM residencies, leading to eight produced projects, including Egyptian producer Hossam Elouan, whose film You Will Die at Twenty premiered at this year's Venice and Toronto International Film Festivals. In 2018, Tunisian filmmaker Nejib Belkhadi's Look at Me and Turkish filmmaker Ali Vatansever's Saf also premiered in Toronto, and Egyptian Filmmaker Amr Salama's Sheikh Jackson was Egypt's official 2017 submission to the Academy Awards Best Foreign Language Film category.

This year's 18 Fellows receive a yearlong Fellowship that begins on October 1 with a six-week LA Residency. Fellows participate in filmmaking tracks focused on screenwriting, creative producing and documentary filmmaking, where they develop their current projects with a team of U.S. Mentors. The program is filled with master classes, industry sessions, field trips and unique opportunities to meet one-on-one with filmmakers and professionals for tailored project feedback, exchange of ideas and career guidance. Some of the field trips include HBO with Len Amato, President, HBO Films, Miniseries and Cinemax Programming, ARRAY, Netflix and Stage 13/Warner Bros., where Fellows will have creative sessions with executives and filmmakers.

This summer, $30,000 in microgrants were awarded to past Global Media Maker Fellows to foster a culture of community building and mentorship in their countries. Microgrant funded projects included Jordanian Fellow Darin J. Sallam's filmmaking workshop for youth in a Syrian refugee camp where students wrote, produced, directed and shot a short film about stereotypes revolving around girls playing soccer. In addition, Lebanese Fellows Zeina Badran and Mira Shaib held a workshop on filmmaking for high school students and organized outdoor film screenings in the town of Ain Ebel in the south of Lebanon.

The 2019 Fellows and their projects are:

Producer/Cinematographer: Anam Abbas, Pakistan
Title: Showgirls of Pakistan (documentary feature)
Logline: Burlesque dancers in Pakistan dodge state censors, jealousies and violent fans as they vie for stardom and survival in this never-before-accessed look into the world of "mujra". 

Writer: Triparna Banerjee, India
Title: Riding On the Moon Boat (narrative feature)
Logline: An adolescent girl from an underprivileged community struggles to flourish against the odds as her father is shunned by the majority of the village for engaging in a blasphemous act. 

Writer/Director: Min Bahadur Bham, Nepal
Title: A Year of Cold (Chiso Barsa) (narrative feature)
Logline: A pregnant woman must journey deep into the remote, harsh Himalayas with her monk brother-in-law to search for her missing husband and give her child an identity.

Producer: Nawa Nidhi Dahal, Nepal
Title: The Land of Ancestors (narrative feature)
Logline: An elderly shepherd living in the Himalayas is confronted with nightmarish visions of his own death and must find his successor before he draws his last breath.

Writer/Director: Shazia Iqbal, India
Title: Blood Circle (narrative feature)
Logline: An anthology of stories set in Mumbai that explores the vicious circle of oppression that transforms a human from prey to predator. 

Director: Nishtha Jain, India
Title: The Golden Thread (documentary feature)
Logline: In India's aging jute mills, harsh working conditions coexist with hopes for its ecological revival. Interrogating filmmaking alongside industrial labor, the film muses on the nature and future of work. 

Producer: Oğuz Kaynak, Turkey
Title: The Disappeared (narrative feature)
Logline: When men begin to mysteriously disappear in a traditional Turkish neighborhood, panic ensues, gender roles are reversed and an abused housewife finds empowerment. 

Producer: Abdulrahman Khawj, Saudi Arabia
Title: 40 Years and One Night (narrative feature)
Logline: On the eve of the Eid holiday, seven Saudi Arabian siblings discover their father has secretly been married to another woman and struggle to keep the secret from their mother.

Producer: Zeynep Koray, Turkey
Title: Empire of the Rabbits (narrative feature)
Logline: In rural Turkey, a 12-year-old boy struggles with morality and authority after his father forces him to pretend to be disabled in order to receive a stipend from the state. 

Writer/Director: Bikas Mishra, India
Title: Testimony (Bayaan) (narrative feature)
Logline: When a powerful religious Guru is accused of rape, a rookie female detective must identify the Guru's anonymous accuser and convince her to testify in court.

Writer/Director: Sanjeewa Pushpakumara, Sri Lanka
Title: Amma (Mothers) (narrative feature)
Logline: Two mothers from opposite sides of the Sri Lankan civil war must unite as they embark upon a campaign to find out the truth about their missing sons.

Producer: Arifur Rahman, Bangladesh
Title: Paradise (narrative feature)
Logline: On an isolated island off the coast of Bangladesh, a Muslim teenager's duty and faith are tested when he befriends another island boy.

Producer: Lara Abou Saifan, Lebanon
Title: Tide (narrative feature)
Logline: A Palestinian-Lebanese couple loses their child and learns his body will only be released if they can find a spot in a Palestinian cemetery in Lebanon to bury him. 

Writer/Director: Rezwan Shahriar Sumit, Bangladesh
Title: A New Prophet (narrative feature)
Logline: A young tech genius finds his life stuck in limbo between heaven and hell when he tries to bring his broken family together using virtual reality.

Director: Subina Shrestha, Nepal
Title: War by Other Means (documentary feature)
Logline: A remote Himalayan community's fault lines are exposed during a local election where one man decides to win, no matter the moral compromise.

Writer/Director: Christo Tomy, India
Title: Undercurrent (Ullozhukku) (narrative feature)
Logline: During floods, a pregnant widow, who waits for her unloving husband's funeral, lies that she is carrying his child to escape her family's wrath and reunite with her secret lover.

Director: Maheen Zia, Pakistan
Title: Then They Would Be Gone (documentary feature)
Logline: Amidst wheat fields, a carnival world appears - an ephemeral city. We enter this space, traversing through the heart of Pakistan with three nomadic artist families as sacred meets profane.

Director: Miriam Chandy Menacherry, India

About Film Independent
Film Independent is the nonprofit arts organization that champions creative independence in visual storytelling and supports a community of artists who embody diversity, innovation and uniqueness of vision. Film Independent helps filmmakers make their movies, builds an audience for their projects and works to diversify the film industry. Film Independent's Board of Directors, filmmakers, staff and constituents is comprised of an inclusive community of individuals across ability, age, ethnicity, gender, race and sexual orientation. Anyone passionate about film can become a Member, whether you are a filmmaker, industry professional or a film lover.

In addition to producing the Spirit Awards, Film Independent produces Film Independent Presents, a year-round screening series for its members that offers unique cinematic experiences for the Los Angeles creative community and the general public.

Through annual screenings and events, Film Independent provides access to a network of like-minded artists who are driving creativity in the film industry. Film Independent's Artist Development program offers free labs for selected writers, directors, producers and documentary filmmakers and presents year-round networking opportunities. Project Involve is Film Independent's signature program dedicated to fostering the careers of talented filmmakers from communities traditionally underrepresented in the film industry.

For more information or to become a Member, visit filmindependent.org.

The U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA)
The U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) builds relations between the people of the United States and the people of other countries through academic, cultural, sports, professional and private exchanges, as well as public-private partnerships and mentoring programs. These exchange programs improve foreign relations and strengthen the national security of the United States, support U.S. international leadership, and provide a broad range of domestic benefits by helping break down barriers that often divide us. Visit eca.state.gov.

Melanie Bates, Film Independent
Tel: 323 556 9338 or mbates@filmindependent.org  

Seanna Hore, Ginsberg/Libby
Tel: 323 645 6800 or seanna.hore@ginsberglibby.com



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