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U.S. Department of State and the USC School of Cinematic Arts Announce Films for 2012 American Film Showcase

Media Note
Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
February 9, 2012


The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts (SCA) announced today the 29 films selected for the American Film Showcase, an international cultural diplomacy initiative that brings people together worldwide through film. The Showcase, a partnership between the U.S. Department of State and USC’s School of Cinematic Arts, brings award-winning American films, including documentaries, feature films and animated shorts, to foreign audiences through events worldwide. Filmmakers and film experts will discuss the films and conduct workshops and master classes on a variety of issues related to filmmaking and film scholarship.

The American Film Showcase builds on Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s vision of “smart power diplomacy,” which embraces the use of a full range of diplomatic tools – in this case film – to bring people together and foster greater understanding.

Comprised of 29 American films, the Showcase represents work of high artistic quality, illustrates diverse viewpoints, and reflects contemporary American society and culture. In addition to presenting the films to overseas audiences, the filmmakers and film experts will also conduct lectures, workshops, master classes on a variety of topics including filmmaking, storytelling, cinematography, marketing, distribution and funding, animation, digital technology, and emergent media, among others.

The 2012 American Film Showcase includes the following films:

Documentary Films:

1. CALAVERA HIGHWAY - Director: Renee Tajima-Peña


2. CATFISH - Director: Henry Joost, Ariel Schulman


3. CONNECTED - Director: Tiffany Shlain


4. ELEVATE - Director: Anne Buford

Website and Trailer:

5. FOOD INC. - Director: Robert Kenner


6. FOR ONCE IN MY LIFE - Director: Jim Bigham


7. GASLAND - Director: Josh Fox


8. THE INTERRUPTERS - Director: Steve James


9. MAD HOT BALLROOM - Director: Marilyn Agrelo


10. REBIRTH - Director: Jim Whitaker


11. REVENGE OF THE ELECTRIC CAR - Director: Chris Paine

Website and Trailer:

12. SHAKESPEARE HIGH - Director: Alex Rotaru

Website and Trailer:

13. SPELLBOUND - Director: Jeffrey Blitz


14. SWEETGRASS - Director: Lucien Castaing-Taylor, Ilisa Barbash


15. TO BE HEARD - Directors: Amy Sultan, Roland Legiardi-Laura, Edwin Martinez, Deborah Shaffer


16. UNDEFEATED - Director: Daniel Lindsay, T.J. Martin

Website and Trailer:

17. WE STILL LIVE HERE - Director: Anne Makepeace


18. WHO KILLED THE ELECTRIC CAR - Director: Chris Paine


19. WO AI NI MOMMY - Director: Stephanie Wang-Breal


Documentary Shorts:

1. LIBRARY OF DUST - Director: Ondi Timoner


2. PHANTOM LIMB - Director: Jay Rosenblatt

Website and Trailer:

3. PILGRIMAGE - Director: Tadashi Nakamura


4. A POET’S ALZHEIMER’S (aka Translating Edwin Honig: A Poet's Alzheimer's) - Director: Alan Berliner


Narrative Feature Films:

1. REAL WOMEN HAVE CURVES - Director: Patricia Cardoso


2. THE STRAIGHT STORY - Writer/Producer/Editor: Mary Sweeney


Animated Shorts:

1. GUARD DOG - Director: Bill Plympton


2. STILL LIFE WITH ANIMATED DOGS - Director: Paul Fierlinger

Full film:


4. BOTTLE - Director: Kirsten Lepore


Film Experts:

Claire Aguilar -- Claire Aguilar Vice President of Programming at the Independent Television Service (ITVS).

Kate Amend -- Award-winning documentary film editor whose credits include THE LONG WAY HOME and INTO THE ARMS OF STRANGERS: STORIES OF THE KINDERTRANSPORT.

Alan Berliner -- His award-winning documentary films, THE SWEETEST SOUND, NOBODY'S BUSINESS, INTIMATE STRANGER, and THE FAMILY ALBUM (all featured on POV) have been broadcast all over the world and have been honored at top international film festivals.

Les Blank -- Considered to be one of the pre-eminent documentary filmmakers of the past 50 years, according to the New York Times, “Blank is a documentarian of folk cultures who transforms anthropology into art.” His films have been a series of intimate glimpses into the lives of passionate people who live at the periphery of American society, including such titles as GARLIC IS AS GOOD AS TEN MOTHERS, SPEND IT ALL, A WELL SPENT LIFE, and GAP-TOOTHED WOMEN

Ted Braun -- USC School of Cinematic Arts associate professor who teaches courses in screenwriting and motion picture script analysis. His first feature film, the documentary, DARFUR NOW, won the NAACP Image Award for best documentary of 2007, and was named one of 2007’s top five documentaries by the National Board of Review.

Patricia Cardoso -- Director of the HBO feature REAL WOMEN HAVE CURVES which received two awards at the Sundance Film Festival, and will be one of the AMERICAN FILM SHOWCASE feature film recommendations.

Mary Ann Doane - UC Berkeley Class of 1937 Professor of Film and Media. The author of several books, including The Desire to Desire: The Woman’s Film of the 1940s, Femmes Fatales: Feminism, Film Theory, Psychoanalysis, and The Emergence of Cinematic Time: Modernity, Contingency, the Archive.

Harrison Engle -- With more than 80 films to his credit, Engle has produced specials and documentaries for nearly every broadcast network and cable company. Amongst his credits are THE LOST KENNEDY HOME MOVIES, THE INDOMITABLE TEDDY ROOSEVELT, THEY CAME TO PLAY, FUTURE FLIGHT, and many others.

Jane Gaines -- Professor in the Film Program, School of the Arts at Columbia University, Jane Gaines is award-winning author of two books: Contested Culture: The Image, the Voice and the Law and Fire and Desire: Mixed Race Movies in the Silent Era.

Lynn Goldfarb – Lynn Goldfarb has produced, written and directed television specials for PBS and numerous cable networks for the past 25 years. She has also been an instructor, including teaching classes at the USC School of Cinematic Arts, and in 2010, at the American Center, U.S. Embassy, Yangon, Myanmar.

Mark Harris -- Co-Principal Investigator of the AMERICAN FILM SHOWCASE, he is also a Distinguished Professor and Head of Advanced Documentary Production at the USC School of Cinematic Arts where he has taught since 1983. Mark’s films have won three Academy Awards, including for Best Short Documentary for THE REDWOODS, and Best Feature Length Documentary for INTO THE ARMS OF STRANGERS: STORIES OF THE KINDERTRANSPORT, and THE LONG WAY HOME.

Judith Helfand -- Documentary filmmaker whose films explore the areas of chemical exposure, corporate behavior, home, class and relationships. She is also a full-time faculty member at New York University’s Kanbar Institute of Film & Television.

Jeremy Kagan -- Professor of Production in the USC Cinematic Arts program, he is a motion picture and television director whose productions have received Emmy, Cable ACE and Humanitas awards as well as nominations for a Golden Globe, Directors Guild and the NAACP.

Marsha Kinder – An SCA University Professor in Critical Studies, Kinder is a film scholar whose works on Spanish cinema, children’s media and multimedia installations have been particularly influential, as well as her books entitled Blood Cinema and Playing with Power.

Lisa Leeman -- A documentary filmmaker whose film, ONE LUCKY ELEPHANT is part of the 2011 American Film Showcase package, she also teaches Documentary Producing, Writing non-fiction, Editing and Visual Communication at the USC School of Cinematic Arts.

Doe Mayer -- Professor and Co-Head, Documentary Production Program in USC Cinematic Arts, and since 2005, she has held the endowed Mary Pickford Chair. Doe also holds a joint appointment with the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.

Bill Nichols -- Professor in San Francisco State University’s Department of Cinema, whose areas of expertise include documentary and ethnographic film, film history and theory, Postwar American Cinema, film style, and issues of social and historical representation.

Amanda Pope -- USC Cinematic Arts Production professor whose most recent film that she co-directed and produced, THE DESERT OF FORBIDDEN ART (shot entirely in Uzbekistan), has already received several international awards including the CINE Golden Eagle, and was an Official Selection at the United National Association Festival, and has been shown on PBS.

Anayansi Prado -- An experienced filmmaker with numerous credits, she has also served as a film expert for the American Documentary Showcase in Angola this year, and as a filmmaker in Singapore and Burma in 2009.

Michael Renov – Professor of Critical Studies and Vice Dean for Academic Affairs at SCA, Renov is a documentary scholar and co-founder of Visible Evidence, an international and highly interdisciplinary documentary studies conference begun in 1993. He is the author or editor of seven books including The Subject of Documentary and Theorizing Documentary.

B. Ruby Rich -- Professor, Social Documentation at the University of California, Santa Cruz, she specializes in Latin American and Latino/a cinema. U.S. Independent film and video, and feminist film history.

Jay Rosenblatt -- An independent documentary filmmaker with more than 25 films to his credit, and more than 100 awards, they have been shown on HBO, Sundance Film Festival and the Museum of Modern Art.

Mary Sweeney -- A feature film director, writer, producer and editor whose credits include MULHOLLAND DRIVE, THE STRAIGHT STORY, BARABOO and TWIN PEAKS, she is also an associate professor in the Cinematic Division of Screenwriting

Tyger Williams -- Writer and producer of the feature film, MENACE II Society, he has written over 30 screenplays for major film and television studios. He is also an adjunct professor at the USC School of Cinematic Arts.

Debra Zimmerman -- Debra Zimmerman has been the Executive Director of Women Make Movies, a non-profit NY based film organization that supports women filmmakers, since 1983.

Patricia Zimmermann -- Professor of Cinema, Photography and Media Arts at Ithaca College, she is also the co-director of the Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival, and has previously held tenured positions at the University of Iowa and at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore.

PRN: 2012/192

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