Seeing life through the lens of others

What better way than film to introduce diverse cultures and the human elements that bind all cultures together?

Rhode Island College recently gained exclusive rights to screen the award-winning critically acclaimed Global Lens film series – 10 full-length feature films by filmmakers from Africa, Asia, Central and Eastern Europe, Latin America and the Middle East.

In partnership with the Providence Public Library, the film series will be shown at RIC’s Adams Library from Sept. 17 through Dec. 6 and at the public library from Sept. 20 to Nov. 29.

The public is invited to attend the free screenings and to participate in the discussions afterward, which are designed as open conversations among all audience members and led by RIC experts as well as off-campus educators and film enthusiasts.

Headquartered in San Francisco, the Global Lens Film Initiative is a nonprofit organization that provides grants to filmmakers in developing countries and works with organizations in the United States and Canada to present their works as either part of a film festival or as individual screenings.

Ten titles are selected and launched each year at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Institutions like RIC are selected to screen the films based on their “demonstrated excellence in community outreach” and for their ability “to educate students and the public on these films in a comprehensive way,” wrote Global Lens.

“Rhode Island is such a film mecca, we were surprised that Global Lens had no partnership with anyone else in the state,” said Anthony Galvez, RIC professor of communication and co-chair of RIC’s Dialogue on Diversity Committee.

It was Galvez who initiated the partnership with Global Lens. He said the series carries out the diversity committee’s mission to expose the campus community and the state to global ideas, lifestyles and cultures.

From the opening scenes of these films, the viewer is transported from the colorful streets of Rio to the mesmerizing natural beauty of Turkey's sunflower fields. Here are the 10 award-winning feature films being presented:

Amnesty (Albania) – A new law allowing conjugal visits in Albanian prisons presents the opportunity for a sympathetic affair between a man and a woman visiting their incarcerated spouses – until a prisoner amnesty is declared and threatens their fragile bond.

Craft (Brazil) – A talented but underemployed actress who performs at private events as a celebrity impersonator lands an audition and what may be her “big break” after an inspired director recasts his film around her socially marginalized life as an underrated artist.

Fat, Bald, Short Man (Colombia) – The prospects of a lonesome, middle-aged employee of a notary unexpectedly change when he joins a self-improvement group and his new boss—and strangely affable doppelganger—takes an interest in him.

The Finger (Argentina) – In the face of electoral fraud and intimidation, the severed finger of a respected local leader points the way for independent-minded citizens’ and their town’s quest for democracy after dictatorship.

Grey Matter (Rwanda) – A determined filmmaker tries to produce his first feature, The Cycle of the Cockroach, about a brother and sister dealing with the aftermath of genocide. Unable to gain funding from government agencies, he borrows recklessly from a loan shark.

Mourning (Iran) – In the wake of his parents’ disappearance, a young boy is placed in the care of his deaf aunt and uncle who, during a road trip to Tehran, engage in a silent but apparently not-so-secret debate about the child’s future.

Pegasus (Morocco) – In this psychological thriller, a traumatized and pregnant young woman who was found in the street is assigned to an emotionally exhausted psychiatrist. Her story awakens repressed thoughts in the psychiatrist, and reality merges into a haunted fever-dream of fear and denial.

The Prize (Argentina) – A political activist’s life-in-hiding on an isolated stretch of Argentina’s coastline is jeopardized after her seven-year-old daughter is selected to participate in a local school’s patriotic essay contest.

Qarantina (Iraq) – A broken family under an incestuous patriarch lives uneasily within the gated courtyard of a house in Baghdad. Desperate for money, the household must also live with a sullen boarder, a contract killer.

Toll Booth (Turkey) – An aging toll booth attendant, straining under the weight of a domineering father and suffocating work routine, finally begins to crack when faced with the emotional pressure of an unexpected romance.

For specific dates and times of film screenings at both Rhode Island College and the Providence Public Library visit GLOBAL LENS 2012 or contact R. Anthony Galvez at (401) 456-8638 or