3rd Annual Global Lens Initiative

This Peripatetic Film Festival Brings the Show to the Bay Area

September 8 - October 4, 2006

John Boorman, the renowned director of Deliverance, The Emerald Forest, and Hope and Glory, once referred to cinema as "an Esperanto of the eye," meaning that movies are the universal language. As such, they provide entry into unlimited and often unimagined experiences, both personal and collective, and broad and specific, insight into the human condition.

Now in its third year, the Global Lens Initiative offers eight international feature-length movies and five shorts from the developing world. These select films have made a significant impact in the international film community, yet were overlooked by American commercial film distributors. This year, never-before-seen films from Brazil, Burkina Faso, China, Iran, Lebanon, Palestine and South Africa offer unique glimpses into the world's citizens.

Global Lens Initiative's raison d'etre is to "promote cross-cultural understanding through film"-and they practice what they preach. Each year this peripatetic film festival crisscrosses the US, making stops in theatres from Boston to Honolulu, from Seattle to Miami, and several cities in between. In addition to public screenings, Global Lens is dedicated to making available the rich cultural lessons these films have to offer through specially-designed free programs that encourage students to gain a deeper understanding of different cultural points of view. From the opening scenes of these films, middle school and high school students are transported to the busy, noisy streets of Johannesburg or Beijing, or to a dusty highway on the Iranian border. These films explore universal themes: a young man's gift for mourning is exploited by his notorious uncle, in a conflict between tradition and the modern world in South Africa; a lonely university student in Beijing has her first taste of freedom, only to lose it when she falls in love with an unscrupulous man; and a young Iranian widow struggles to provide for her children while respecting the strict laws of her faith.

International films can often be hit or miss, but each of these Global Lens offerings is a jewel of cultural traditions and cinematic artistry. I highly recommend the entire series.

Festival Finds
Border Cafe (Cafe Transit, Iran)
In a village near Iran's border with Turkey, Reyhan, a young woman with two children, faces a difficult choice when her husband dies. Unable to inherit wealth, and continuously pressured to move into her brother-in-law's home and become his second wife, Reyhan struggles for self-sufficiency in a rigidly traditional environment by re-opening her late-husband's roadside restaurant.

Max and Mona (South Africa)
In this slapstick comedy about a young boy's coming of age and his wild adventure with a most unlikely partner in crime, Max Bua, 19, sets off from a South African farm community for Johannesburg to begin his medical studies. But when he arrives at the university too late, he must seek out his questionable Uncle Norman, and the fun begins.

Almost Brothers (Quase Dios irmaos, Brazil) This poignant story of two men (white, middleclass Miguel and black favela-dweller Jorge) who meet as boys through their fathers' passion for music, takes a turn in later life, when they discover that they have more in common than they ever realized.

The Night of Truth (La Nuit de la verite, Burkina Faso) Mirroring the political strife and genocide in contemporary Sub-Saharan Africa, "Night" opens as preparations are being made to end a decade of civil war in a fictitious country. As the powerful drumming begins, both rebels and government forces gather, bringing with them years of rage, grief, hope, suspicion, and bitterness.

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All text on this website copyright 2006 Cathleen Rountree. All images and graphics copyright their respective owners, unless otherwise noted. Design by Jay Wertzler.

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Attending The Festival

San Francisco:

Sep. 6-Oct. 4: Art Institute, 800 Chestnut St.
Sept. 10-24: Balboa Theatre, 3630 Balboa St.


Sep. 8-20: Grand Lake Theatre, 3200 Grand Ave.

San Jose:

Sep. 10-22: Mexican Heritage Plaza, 1700 Alum Rock Ave.

San Rafael::

Sep. 21-Oct. 4: Smith Rafael Film Center


Purchase tickets at the door. Prices differ according to venue. For futher information about Global Lens Initiative: globalfilm.org

Almost Brothers

Almost Brothers

Border Cafe

The Night of Truth