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Film Forum in New York to screen Documentaries from Soros/Sundance Doc Fund

The Open Society Institute and Sundance Institute today announced a series of 19 international documentaries that will be screened at Film Forum in New York City, October 26-29, 2006.

The Soros/Sundance Documentary Fund: A 10th Anniversary Film Series, showcases provocative social justice and human rights documentaries made with support from the fund. These works attest to the rich artistic and political expression of the filmmakers and demonstrate the power of cinematic storytelling to bring audiences deeper inside the central issues of our time.

The series is comprised of award-winning documentaries that explore a range of true stories including the disappearance of hundreds of women in Juarez, Mexico; post-9/11 detainment of Muslims by the United States; the Palestinian-Israeli conflict; contemporary life in Iran; rape as war crime in Bosnia; truth and reconciliation in South Africa; and U.S. immigration policy. Also featured are panel discussions with filmmakers, journalists, and issue experts.

“Documentary films raise awareness and inspire action,” said George Soros, OSI founder and chairman. “The Open Society Institute gave vital support to filmmakers working to expose human rights abuses and helped the films find the widest possible audience.”

The retrospective opens Thursday night, October 26, with Mandy Jacobsen and Karmen Jelincic’s, Calling the Ghosts: A Story About Rape, War And Women, one of the first films supported by the fund. Calling the Ghosts is a gripping account of two Bosnian women raped in a Serbian concentration camp. The documentary premiered at the Human Rights Watch International Film Festival in 1997 and was later screened by the United Nations and Amnesty International, and played a role in helping to arrest and prosecute the perpetrators.

“Documentary filmmakers often risk their lives to bring these stories to us,” said Robert Redford, president and founder of Sundance Institute. “Their efforts enliven the exchange of ideas crucial to developing and maintaining an open society. Engaging citizens around the world with opportunities for meaningful discourse about these issues and the human stories within them is an advancement of art and public service."

Other award-winning works from the past 10 years showcased in the series include Thierry Michel’s Iran: Veiled Appearances. Made with unusual access, the film chronicles the complexity of a nation that has vexed the United States for at least 30 years; Academy Award-nominated film Long Night’s Journey Into Day on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in post-apartheid South Africa; and Children Underground, winner of the Special Jury Prize at Sundance and an Academy Award-nomination, that explores the lives of homeless youth in Romania. The series also features a sneak preview of My American Dream: How Democracy Works Now that intimately portrays the lives of twenty-four people affected by U.S. immigration policy.

Launched by OSI in 1996, the Soros Documentary Fund backed filmmakers at a time when little funding was available for projects tackling social justice, human rights, civil liberties, and freedom of expression. Under the direction of Diane Weyermann, in 2001, the Soros Documentary Fund was moved to Sundance Institute, which is committed to the discovery and development of independent artists and audiences. Since moving to the Institute, now under the direction of Cara Mertes, the fund has continued to support U.S. and international documentary films that explore critical issues of our time.

The Soros/Sundance Documentary Fund has supported several hundred non-fiction films to spur awareness, action, and social change. The retrospective is part of a series of events celebrating 10 years of OSI’s U.S. Programs.

“The truth is that without this funding, first from the Open Society Institute and then from the Sundance Documentary Fund, I could not have made the films I made,” said Director Jonathan Stack who will participate in a post-screening discussion of his film, Liberia: An Uncivil War. “These grants have not only contributed to great work, they've made it possible to turn great films into meaningful agents of change.”

The film calendar is listed below. All films will be screened at Film Forum, located at 209 West Houston Street. All tickets are $5.50 and are available online at www.filmforum.org beginning October 19, or at the box office on the day of the screening. For more information please visit www.soros.org, www.filmforum.org or www.sundance.org.

Thursday, October 26
STRANGER WITH A CAMERA (Elizabeth Barret, 2000)—A thoughtful examination into the murder of a Canadian filmmaker who traveled to Appalachia in the 1960s to document poverty. 1:30 pm

LONG NIGHT’S JOURNEY INTO DAY (Frances Reid and Deborah Hoffman, 1999)—An inspiring portrait of four cases brought before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, illustrating South Africa’s quest for restorative justice. 4:00 pm


Soros/Sundance Documentary Fund News Release

RED RUBBER BOOTS (Jasmila Zbanic, 2000)—A haunting portrayal of one woman’s search for the remains of her family who were killed by the Serbian army during the Bosnian war. This short film will precede Calling the Ghosts. 7:00 pm


CALLING THE GHOSTS: A STORY ABOUT RAPE, WAR, AND WOMEN (Mandy Jacobson and Karmen Jelincic, 1996)—A gripping account of the struggle for justice by two Bosnian women raped in a Serbian concentration camp. 7:00 pm

Friday, October 27

HILLBROW KIDS (Michael Hammon and Jacqueline Görgen, 1999)—A revealing conversation with street children in Johannesburg coping with the hardships of post-apartheid South Africa.

1:30 pm


SOUTHERN COMFORT (Kate Davis, 2000)—A moving depiction of the lethal cost of discrimination in the United States today, through the story of a female-to-male transsexual who dies of ovarian cancer after repeatedly being denied medical treatment. 4:00 pm, followed by a conversation with the director.

CHILDREN UNDERGROUND (Edet Belzberg, 2000)—An intimate look at the lives of abandoned and runaway youths who make their home below the streets of Bucharest, Romania. 6:30 pm, followed by a conversation with the director.

ASYLUM (Sandy McLeod and Ginia Reticker, 2003)—A young Ghanaian woman seeks refugee status in the United States to escape the threat of female genital mutilation. This short film will precede Persons of Interest. 9:00 pm

PERSONS OF INTEREST (Alison Maclean and Tobias Perse, 2003)—Former detainees of South Asian and Middle Eastern descent who were arbitrarily arrested and interrogated in the aftermath of September 11, 2001, tell their stories. 9:00 pm, followed by a conversation with the directors.


Saturday, October 28
IRAN: VEILED APPEARANCES (Thierry Michel, 2002)—An unprecedented glimpse into the fractured society of Iran, exploring the lives of students, soldiers, artists, and religious figures.

1:30 pm



STILL STANDING: A YOUTH ORGANIZERS’ TELEVISION DOCUMENTARY ON HURRICANE KATRINA (Lindsay Fauntleroy, 2006)—A poignant story of the challenges faced by a Hurricane Katrina survivor six months after the storm, documented by a group of student filmmakers. This short film will precede Punitive Damage. 3:30 pm, followed by a conversation with the director and crew members.



PUNITIVE DAMAGE (Annie Goldson, 1999)—After her son is shot by the Indonesian military in East Timor, a mother sets out on a quest for truth and justice that brings her to an American courtroom and puts the Indonesian government on trial. 3:30 pm



MY AMERICAN DREAM: HOW DEMOCRACY WORKS NOW (Shari Robertson and Michael Camerini, work in progress)—An exploration into the lives of 24 people engaged in the struggle surrounding U.S. immigration policy. 6:30 pm, followed by a conversation with the directors.



ONE DAY IN SEPTEMBER (Kevin MacDonald, 1999)—A gripping account of the attack on Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics, weaving archival footage with contemporary interviews. 9:00 pm


Sunday, October 29
THERE ARE WOMEN IN RUSSIAN VILLAGES (Pavel Kostomarov and Antoin Kattin, 2006)—A troubling look at the feminization of poverty in Russia, where women are the poorest members of the population. This short film will precede Señorita Extraviada. 1:30 pm



SEÑORITA EXTRAVIADA, “MISSING YOUNG WOMAN” (Lourdes Portillo, 2001)—A haunting investigation into the disappearance of hundreds of young women in Juárez, Mexico.

1:30 pm



LIFE AND DEBT (Stephanie Black, 2001)—An unsparing depiction of the impact of globalization on Jamaica, narrated by Jamaica Kincaid. 4:00 pm



THE INNER TOUR (Ra’anan Alexandrowicz, 2001)—A story of a group of young Palestinians traveling around Israel for the first time, filmed just months before Middle East tensions escalated in 2000. 6:30 pm



LIBERIA: AN UNCIVIL WAR (Jonathan Stack and James Brabazon, 2004)—An insider look at the civil war in Liberia and the siege of its capital, including exclusive interviews with President Charles Taylor. 8:30 pm, followed by a conversation with the director Jonathan Stack.



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