09/28/2007 – WASHINGTON (Sept. 24, 2007)–A quiet, unassuming, young Native American woman competes to represent her nation in the most traditional of all beauty pageants. A gang of Mexican wrestlers dons colorful costumes and formulates colorful rhetoric to take on the slumlords and bureaucrats that threaten their communities. A humble Aymara farmer makes an unlikely bid to become the first indigenous Bolivian president on a pro-coca platform. These stories and more converge to bring audiences the contemporary tales of indigenous and under-represented minority cultures in the fourth annual National Geographic All Roads Film Festival, to be held Sept. 27-30 at the Egyptian Theatre in Los Angeles and Oct. 4-7 at the National Geographic Society in Washington, D.C. The four-day event will also feature a walk-through photography exhibit and music concert in both cities. In Washington, the event will include an art market.
New this year, All Roads will curate an online film festival, rolling out 20 short-subject films on www.nationalgeographic.com/allroads beginning Monday, Sept. 24. This latest initiative seeks to further connect audiences to indigenous film through partnerships with such popular venues as iTunes, YouTube and Second Life.
Some of this year’s stand-out films include “Super Amigos,” a feature documentary by Arturo Pérez Torres that combines live-action with comic-book-style animation to depict a group of Lucha Libre wrestlers who have taken their fight to the streets of Mexico City, and “Miss Navajo,” a feature documentary by All Roads seed grantee Billy Luther (Navajo/Hopi/Laguna Pueblo), that follows the contestants of the Miss Navajo Nation competition.
Exclusive to Washington, D.C., the heralded films “Enemies of Happiness,” by filmmakers Eva Mulvad and Anja Al-Erhayem, and “Cocalero,” by director Alejandro Landes, will show the political process from two separate perspectives, as an Iraqi woman and an indigenous Aymara coca farmer endure racist and sexist insults, and sometimes death threats, in a quest to attain public office.
“The theme for this year’s festival, ‘New Voices, First Stories,’ exemplifies our mission to identify and promote the work of up-and-coming filmmakers, photographers and musicians who have fascinating stories to tell about their cultures and communities,” said Francene Blythe, director of the All Roads Film Project. “To overlook these stories is to ignore a vital part of our history as a global community, and thus All Roads will always seek out these films and make them accessible to a broader audience.”
This year’s festival will present four programming strands: “Women Hold Up Half the Sky,” a spotlight on women filmmakers; “Ancestors, Elders and Land,” highlighting the connection between native people and their land; “Under the Same Sun,” a look at the struggle that people endure as they confront dual cultural identities; and “Shorts from Around the World,” a showcase of short-subject films depicting a wide array of global cultures. Films represent a diverse range of countries and cultures, including Afghanistan, Australia, Bolivia, Canada, Finland, India, Iran, Iraq, Kurdistan, Mexico, New Zealand, Tonga (South Pacific Islands), Turkey and the United States.
All Roads will feature the world premiere of “A Shout Into the Wind,” by seed grantee Katja Gauriloff (Skolt Sámi). U.S. debuts include “Waban-Aki,” by First Nation filmmaker Alanis Obomsawin; “Crocodile Dreaming,” by Aboriginal director Darlene Johnson (seed grantee); “Daf,” by Kurdish filmmaker Bahman Ghobadi; “Hush,” by Aboriginal director Dena Curtis; “Land & Airwaves,” by First Nations filmmakers Patrick Boivin and Alland Flamand; “My Brother Vinnie,” by Aboriginal director Steven McGregor; “Nana,” by Aboriginal filmmaker Warwick Thornton; “Taua,” by Maori director Tearepa Kahi (seed grantee); and “Tavake,” by South Pacific Islander Paul Stoll.
Premiering in Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., are features “Dol,” by Kurdish director Hiner Saleem, and “Four Sheets to the Wind,” by Native American director and seed grantee Sterlin Harjo (Seminole/Creek). Shorts “Menged,” by Ethiopian director Daniel Taye Workou, and “133 Skyway,” by Native American filmmaker Randy Redroad, will also make their debuts.
This year’s photography program, sponsored by Manfrotto, highlights the works of Kashmir photographer Altaf Qadri, whose photo essay “Kashmir: Paradise in Pain” depicts the toll the Indian occupation of Kashmir has taken upon its people; Israeli photographer Oded Balilty, whose photo essay “Along the Lines” explores how Israel’s construction of its protective fence contributes to the further separation and removal of the Israeli and Palestinian people; Nigerian photographer Akitunde Akinleye, whose photo essay “The Troubles of a Blessed Country” documents the resulting chaos from a fire at a petroleum pipeline ruptured by local scavengers; and Chinese/Inner Mongolian photographer A Yin, whose photo essay “Highland Mongolian Life” beautifully captures the traditional way of life of the people of the Mongolian highlands. The awardees’ work will be exhibited in the courtyards of the Egyptian Theatre and National Geographic Society.
Balkan Beat Box will headline the Friday night music concert in both cities, marking its West Coast debut. The group will be performing songs from its just-released second album “Nu Med.” Made up of Israeli, Palestinian, Bulgarian, Moroccan and Spanish musicians now based in New York, Balkan Beat Box melds beats from all over the Mediterranean, giving its music an eclectic sound that combines dancehall grooves with hip hop beats, infused with Jewish, Balkan, Arabic, Syrian, European, Moroccan and American influences. TimeOut New York has compared Balkan Beat Box’s live show to an “electronic gypsy circus,” and Entertainment Weekly has described the music as “grooves… fueled by Manischewitz wine and a big dose of punk ‘tude.”
The All Roads Film Festival is part of the All Roads Film Project, a National Geographic initiative to provide a global platform for indigenous and under-represented minority-culture storytellers around the world to showcase their talents and teach a broader audience about their cultures. In addition to providing a venue for their films, All Roads offers its filmmakers and photographers a series of networking opportunities with leaders of the film and photographic community. The All Roads Film Project awards a minimum of 10 seed grants a year to support the development and production of film and video projects by or about the indigenous and under-represented minority-culture film community. Seed grant recipients are considered for inclusion in the All Roads Film Festival and other National Geographic-affiliated broadcast outlets. The All Roads Photography Program provides photographers with seed money, cameras and photography equipment to assist with their fieldwork.
For more information on All Roads, visit www.nationalgeographic.com/allroads.
Established in 1981, the American Cinematheque is a nonprofit viewer-supported film exhibition and cultural organization dedicated to the celebration of the Moving Picture in all of its forms. The Cinematheque presents daily film and video programming, which ranges from the classics of American and international cinema to new independent films and digital work. Exhibitions of rare works, special and rare prints, etc., combined with fascinating post-screening discussions with the filmmakers who created the work, are Cinematheque traditions that keep audiences coming back for once-in-a-lifetime cinema experiences. The American Cinematheque renovated and reopened (on Dec. 4, 1998) the historic 1922 Hollywood Egyptian Theatre. This includes a state-of-the-art 616-seat theatre and a smaller 78-seat screening room housed within Sid Grauman’s first grand movie palace on Hollywood Boulevard. The exotic courtyard is fully restored to its 1922 grandeur. The Egyptian was the home of the very first Hollywood movie premiere in 1922. In January 2005 the American Cinematheque expanded its programming to the 1940 Aero Theatre on Montana Avenue in Santa Monica. www.americancinematheque.com.