Five documentary feature films, including Senna (pictured), The Green Wave and Buck, will be included in the second year of the Sundance Institute and the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities’ Film Forward: Advancing Culture Dialogue initiative.
The program, which was recently renewed after a successful inaugural year, will see 10 feature films travel to California, Puerto Rico, China, India and other countries, in addition to a special presentation at UNESCO in Paris.
Film Forward’s aim is to connect contemporary U.S. and international films and filmmakers with diverse global audiences, and “underscores the importance of mutual understanding and respect for other cultures and traditions that is at the heart of cultural exchange,” Sundance said.
Non-fiction films taking part in the second Film Forward are Buck, the profile on “horse whisperer” Buck Brannaman from filmmaker Cindy Meehl; The Green Wave, from Ali Samadi Ahadi, which looks at Iran in 2009 as it was on the brink of a revolution; and Asif Kapadia’s Senna, on the life of Brazilian Formula One racing champion Ayrton Senna.
Also included are American films Somewhere Between, from Linda Goldstein Knowlton, which focuses on teenage girls adjusting to life in the U.S. after their Chinese birth parents have to part with them; and Unfinished Spaces, from Benjamin Murray and Alysa Nahmias, about the three exiled architects Fidel Castro invited back to Cuba.
Robert Redford, founder and president of Sundance Institute, said: “Film Forward was created to build a global conversation around the issues and themes explored in specific films, as well as the power of film to inform and unite.
“What we learned from the first year of the program was that people can relate to personal stories on a larger level, despite cultural differences and geographic boundaries. We saw that there is much more work to be done and that initiatives like Film Forward are making a difference.”
Keri Putnam, executive director of the Sundance Institute, added: “Film Forward takes bold, personal films and connects them with audiences both here and abroad, providing a larger cinematic cultural experience. We are proud to deepen our collaboration with U.S. cultural agencies to present these films, which beautifully illustrate the common humanity and concerns we share – across all boundaries.”
As part of the initiative, the Film Forward filmmakers present their work and participate in masterclasses, discussion panels, Q&As and other engagements with audiences, to foster dialogue. The primary audiences are “communities without access to thought-provoking independent films, disenfranchised students and young people from all walks of life,” as well as the local filmmaking community within each targeted region.
This year the program will travel to eight locations, reaching a number of under-served communities in the Central Valley of California, the Chickasaw Nation in Oklahoma, Tucson, Arizona, and Puerto Rico. The initiative will also travel overseas to China, Morocco, India and Colombia, and will be presented to delegates at UNESCO in Paris, France.