WASHINGTON (Aug. 13, 2008)—Two women of the Rwanda genocide come face-to-face with the men who slaughtered their families. A couple of intrepid scientists race against time to find the last remaining speakers of endangered languages. An immigrant is pulled between the sub-values of U.S. living and her family ties to home. These contemporary stories of indigenous and under-represented minority cultures are joined by 26 additional films that collectively represent 20 cultures from 15 countries, for the fifth anniversary of the All Roads Film Festival, to be held Oct. 2-5 at National Geographic Society in Washington, D.C. This year’s theme is “Images and Story: A New Generation.”
Kicking off with a live concert by celebrated Somali hip-hop MC, griot and singer/songwriter K’NAAN with songs from his new CD, “Troubadour,” the four-day event will also feature an outdoor photography exhibit with works from four provocative new voices in the photography medium. The Mexican Cultural Institute and Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival (LALIFF) will team with All Roads to screen “Soneros del Tesechoacán,” a Washington, D.C., premiere, in a pre-festival event on Wednesday, Oct. 1.
“In a world where indigenous languages are in jeopardy of imminent loss at the rate of one every two weeks, it is crucial that we recognize the value of our indigenous and under-represented minority-culture communities and the cultural knowledge they provide us,” said Francene Blythe, director of the All Roads Film Project. “With that in mind, it has become the mission of All Roads over the past five years to seek out the stories of these communities and make them accessible to a broader audience. Since our inception, All Roads has reached thousands of people throughout the world through our festival and traveling photography exhibits. In the coming years we hope to create an even greater impact as we continue to search out these unique stories, for they help us gain not only a greater understanding of ourselves but also of our place in the world.”
Some of the year’s stand-out films include Student Academy Award-winning film “As We Forgive,” by Washington native Laura Waters Hinson, which explores the acts of reconciliation between the Hutu and Tutsi communities of Rwanda; “The Linguists,” a documentary by filmmakers Seth Kramer, Daniel A. Miller and Jeremy Newberger, who travel off the map to remote villages in Siberia, India and Bolivia to follow two tenacious college professors on a quest to record languages on the brink of disappearing; and “La Americana,” a look at the emotional dilemma faced in the immigrants’ plight, by director Nicholas Bruckman with director of photography John Mattiuzzi.
Other notable films are “What Was Promised,” a film by National Geographic Emerging Explorer and All Roads seed grantee Roshini Thinakaran, depicting the challenges faced by the female recruits of Iraq’s new security forces; “Sikumi (On the Ice),” a short by up-and-coming filmmaker Andrew Okpeaha Maclean (Iñupiaq); and Sundance audience favorite “Nikamowin (Song),” by director Kevin Lee Burton (Swampy Cree).
This year All Roads will include a program of “Persian Portraits,” featuring a collection of shorts and a long-form documentary curated by the Documentary Experimental Film Center in Tehran. The festival also will screen a number of animated shorts in addition to its roster of narrative and documentary shorts and features.
All Roads will present the Washington premieres of “La Americana” in co-presentation with LALIFF, “The Linguists,” “What Was Promised,” “When Colin Met Joyce,” “Sikumi (On the Ice)” and “Nikamowin (Song).” Other films debuting in Washington include the Russian feature “Welcome to Enurmino!,” and the live-action shorts “A Sketch of Wathone” (Burma), “Keao” (Hawaii, All Roads seed grant), “White Mountains” (East Kurdistan), “Aydaygooay” (Canada), “Weaving Life” (Bolivia), “Under the Open Sky” (Mexico) and “Na ‘Ono o ka ‘Aina – Delicacies of the Land,” (Hawaii).
This year’s photography program features the work of 2008 All Roads Photography Program awardees Khaled Hasan (Bangladesh), Farzana Wahidy (Afghanistan), Alejandro Chaskielberg (Argentina) and Rena Effendi (Azerbaijan).
Hasan will present his photo essay “Living Stone: A Community Losing Its Life,” which focuses on the India-Bangladesh border community of Jaflong, whose inhabitants are struggling with the environmental, political and physical effects of the region’s stone-crushing industry. Wahidy’s exhibit, “Afghan Women,” explores the enormous pressures and perils faced by the women of her native land, who enjoy far fewer rights today than they did 30 years ago. Chaskielberg’s photo essay, “The High Tide: Native Islanders and the Community of the Paraná River Delta,” beautifully depicts a new culture — with its own laws and codes, a byproduct of unemployment and immigration — that has formed in this unique estuary, with a dense forest full of water and silence. Effendi’s essay, “Khinaliq Village — A Staircase to the Sky 2003-2006,” explores the effects of urbanization on the ancient village of Khinaliq in Azerbaijan, a village whose unique ancient culture is being threatened by the development of a luxury ski resort.
The All Roads Film Festival is sponsored by InterContinental Hotels & Resorts.
For ticket information, visit or call the National Geographic ticket office (1600 M Street N.W., Washington, D.C, (202) 857-7700) or order online through www.tickets.com. A full festival schedule is available at www.nationalgeographic.com/allroads.
The All Roads Film Festival is part of the All Roads Film Project, a National Geographic program created to provide an international platform for indigenous and under-represented minority-culture artists to share cultures, stories, and perspectives through the power of film and photography. In addition to providing a venue for their films, All Roads offers its filmmakers and photographers a series of networking opportunities and awards a minimum of 10 seed grants a year to support the development and production of film and video projects by or about indigenous and under-represented minority-culture communities. 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 award money, cameras and photography equipment to assist with their fieldwork.
The Mexican Cultural Institute in Washington, D.C., is one of the most important artistic and cultural centers established outside of Mexico. Its primary mission is to promote and disseminate to the local community, the vast and rich traditions of Mexico’s cultural past and present.
Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival (LALIFF)’s mission is to showcase and nurture existing and emerging creative Latino talent while serving as a springboard and catalyst for the promotion of Latin films and filmmakers; to bring awareness through film, the most influential audiovisual medium of our time, the richness and diversity of the Latin culture; and to invest in our community and develop an audience for our works.