The world is a vast expanse of water, land and people, but it’s human nature to focus only on the immediate surroundings that affect us. Of course, there are those things that affect the entire planet and those that affect other people as well. But sadly, for the most part, few are interested in what lies outside of their own personal space. Insert Global Film Initiative, an organization that takes the curiosity of artists the world over and turns them into a result that affects everyone–even if that means the effect takes place on a more emotional, visceral level.

“Global Film Initiative is a non-profit film organization that supports cinematic works from developing nations and promotes cross-cultural understanding through an innovative use of narrative film and non-traditional learning resources,” says Director of Programs Santhosh Daniel. Begun in 2002, the Initiative can brag of its own cross-cultural board of respected moviemakers, including Mira Nair, Lars von Trier, Pedro Almodóvar, Bela Tarr and Christopher Doyle, but most importantly, the success of its Global Lens Film Series. The series’ annual screenings travel throughout the United States and Canada, using already completed narrative films from Asia, Africa or Latin America. Of course there’s also the granting program, which “awards up to 20 grants each year to established and emerging filmmakers whose projects are nearing completion or in post-production,” explains Daniel. “And, in certain instances, if a project exhibits a high standard of artistic excellence, authentic self-representation and accomplished storytelling, it will be acquired for the Global Lens series.”

As a supplement to the foreign film movement (which currently only sees less than two dozen film societies focusing on its art), Global Film Initiative hopes to set a standard and increase the rate of these films being put into production and, equally important, into distribution. As a result, in 2004, the organization set forth a partnership with First Run/Icarus Films looking to speed up the movement of global awareness that is already in motion. Hopefully, with their help, people might begin to look beyond their own backyard.

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