Film festival offers global perspectives, speakers

The 13th-annual Bridges to the World International Film Festival highlights films
from Mozambique, Latvia, Mexico, Japan and Egypt

The first film in the Bridges to the World International Film Festival tells the stories
of rangers at Gorongosa National Park in Mozambique.

Over five weeks, travel to Mozambique, Latvia, Mexico, Japan and Egypt by film through
the free, virtual Bridges to the World International Film Festival.

Moving online for its 13th season, the festival sponsored by the nonprofit World Artists Experiences aims to bridge the people and cultures of the world with communities throughout Maryland.
Historically, Towson University has been one of five venues showing the films throughout
the state. This year, films will be screened over Zoom.

Films selected by each country’s embassy will be screened weekly on Tuesdays at 7
p.m. EST from Feb. 2 through March 2. Each film will be introduced by a diplomat,
scholar or producer, and a Q&A session will follow the Zoom screening. Films will
be shown with English subtitles.

“The films are a means of presenting each country through images and sounds,” says
Betty McGinnis, president of World Artists Experiences. “Our hope is that [viewers]
will gain the spirit of each country represented.”

The festival also affords participants the opportunity to see films that are not typically
distributed in the U.S., opening a dialogue about different cultures.

“The festival is important because it promotes intercultural understanding,” says
College of Fine Arts & Communication Associate Dean Greg Faller, who has served on the festival’s planning committee since
its inception. “To see films that show us the lives, challenges and triumphs of people
in social, economic and environmental settings different than ours, we can learn so
much.”

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To join the screenings via Zoom, viewers must be logged into a Zoom account or provide a name and valid email address.
If prompted, enter the password: Bridges. The same link and password will be used
for all five screenings. 

A pre-screening introduction will be held at 7 p.m., after which the film’s screening
URL will be shared in the chat box of the Zoom webinar platform. Guests will then
follow the link in the chat to screen the film on their own computers. Selecting the
link will bring up an Internet browser window. After the film has finished, guests
are invited to return to the Zoom webinar room to participate in a post-screening
discussion using the Q&A feature.

Films and screening dates:

Feb. 2: Mozambique

Close-up of park ranger face with mud

“Na Linha de Frente: Os Fiscais do Parque Nacional da Gorongosa [On the Front Line:
The Rangers of Gorongosa National Park]” (2018)

Directed by James Byrne

Introduced by His Excellency Carlos dos Santos, ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary
of the Republic of Mozambique to the USA, and Brett Kuxhausen, producer and cinematographer

In Gorongosa National Park, Mozambique, a brave team of rangers protects the million-acre
park from a range of threats, including bushmeat hunting and illegal logging. But
the rangers urgently need reinforcements. Seven hundred candidates attempt to pass
the intense mental and physical tests over the 60-day trial required to become a Gorongosa
Ranger. And, for the first time, women are allowed to apply.

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Feb. 9: Latvia

Film still of woman washing in bucket

“Es esmu šeit [Mellow Mud]” (2016)

Written and directed by Renars Vimba

Introduced by Sarma Gintare, third secretary, Public Diplomacy Embassy of Latvia

“Es esmu šeit,” which translates as “I am here,” presents a bittersweet story of a
young woman coming of age under extraordinarily difficult circumstances. Living with
her younger brother Robis in a simple wooden cabin at the end of a soggy, nearly impassible
road, Raya must function as a sister, mother, student, farmer and lover. In director
Renars Vimba’s first feature-length film, his embrace of social realism provides the
mechanism to honestly tell Raya’s poignant story of youthful mistakes and links the
film to other examples of Baltic cinema that aspire to capture the “poetics of the
everyday.”

Feb. 16: Mexico

Black and white film still of laborer

“Redes [The Wave]” (1935)

Directed by Emilio Gómez Muriel and Fred Zinnemann

Introduced by Gregorio Luke, scholar and lecturer on Mexican art

Produced by the Mexican government that emerged after the devastating Mexican Revolution
(1910–1920), “Redes” tells the economic struggle of poor fishermen manipulated by
the sole owner of their region’s fish market. In terms of cinematic and musical history,
the film is a monumental—if perhaps unfamiliar—piece of art. “Redes” proved to be
an innovative and seminal work that not only launched Mexico’s golden age of cinema
but also created a new form of semi-documentary filmmaking. It demonstrates a clear
political and aesthetic link to the Soviet cinema of the era.

Feb. 23: Japan

Film poster woman holding sake cup with man behind

“Koi no shizuku [For Love’s Sake]” (2018)

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Directed by Naoki Segi

Introduced by Minister Shinichi Saida, Head of Economic Department, Embassy of Japan
in the USA, and Reed Hessler, scholar and lecturer on Asian cinema

“Koi no shizuku” offers a light-hearted combination of romantic, culinary and family
dramas. Initially focusing on Tokyo University student Shiori (Rina Kawaei, a former
member of the girl group AKB48) and her undesired sake internship, the film eventually
features an ensemble cast of complex characters dealing with multiple personal issues.
“Koi no shizuku” also shows us how sake is made through dedication, intense labor
and teamwork.

March 2: Egypt

Close up of man holding video camera

“Al-mowaten [The Citizen]” (2013)

Produced, directed and co-written by Sam Kadi

Introduced by Mohamed Hamza, Ph.D., Minister and Director of Educational & Cultural
Bureau of the Arab Republic of Egypt and Sam Kadi, producer and director

In “Al-mowaten,” Egyptian actor Khaled Nabaway depicts Ibrahim Jarrah, who won a green
card lottery to come to America. Telling a small lie to immigration officials on his
arrival, he finds himself caught up in the 9/11 aftermath and detained for six months.
This independent American film foregrounds an important challenge faced by immigrants:
how to access and live the American Dream in a society that is suspicious of or feels
threatened by you. 

This story is one of several related to President Kim Schatzel’s priorities for Towson University: TU Matters to Maryland.

View more information: https://www.towson.edu/news/2021/bridges-world-international-film-festival-online.html

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