The 2013 Carnegie Mellon University International Film Festival, which opens with Oscar winner Michel Gondry’s latest film, “The We and the I,” will bring 16 award-winning independent films from 14 countries to various locations throughout Pittsburgh, March 21 through April 13. This year’s festival theme, “Faces of Media,” uses the films to explore how new media impacts society.
“I’m thrilled to be bringing the best independent films to Pittsburgh,” said Jolanta Lion, director of the film festival. “We’re also pleased to have several film directors who will participate in the screenings of their films — either in person or virtually. It’s a unique opportunity for Pittsburgh film audiences.”
Gondry, who won a 2005 Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” will Skype into the 7 p.m., March 21 opening at the Melwood Screening Room. He will introduce “The We and the I,” a film that looks at the lives of a group of teenagers who ride the same bus route, and how their relationships change and evolve on the last day of school. An opening night reception will follow the film.
Other festival highlights include the Israeli-American film “InContact,” the first full-length feature film directed by Ann Oren, which recently won a special jury award at the Social Media Film Festival in Las Vegas. Screening at 7 p.m., Saturday, March 23 at the Melwood Screening Room, the film combines social networking and reality television to examine intimacy. Oren, who wrote her first script while serving in the Israeli army, will attend.
At 7 p.m., Wednesday, April 3, “Blood in the Mobile” will be shown in CMU’s McConomy Auditorium. The film from Germany, England and the Congo sheds light on how the minerals used to make cellphones are mined in a way that is similar to “blood diamonds.”
“Faces of Work,” a tribute to the late filmmaker and CMU Professor Paul Goodman, is one of the new components added to the festival this year. “Faces of Work” will be a permanent festival feature and will pair Goodman’s films with other festival films to highlight the theme of work across different cultures, Goodman’s professional focus.
“Faces of Work” will premiere at 7 p.m., Friday, March 22 in McConomy Auditorium. The Goodman film “University President” will be shown, which focuses on a CMU president in his attempt to foster connections among technology, business and the humanities. Accompanying it will be the Chinese-American film “Crocodile in the Yangtze.” The film from director Porter Erisman — who will attend the event — tells the story about the slow, yet victorious rise of entrepreneur Jack Ma and his journey building the first Chinese Internet startup company.
This year’s festival provides new opportunities for CMU students and the community. Several film directors, such as Oren and Erisman, will guest lecture in classes that are studying the issues presented in the films.
“I’m excited to experiment incorporating festival events into Carnegie Mellon classes,” Lion said. “My hope is that it attracts students to come and see the independent films that are also used in the educational process. It will be interesting to see the students’ reactions and interactions with these acclaimed filmmakers.”
The festival will close at 7 p.m., Saturday, April 13 in McConomy Auditorium with “Back to the Square.” Directed by Harvard University philosophy professor turned filmmaker Petr Lom, the Norwegian-Canadian film digs deep into what was behind the “Arab Spring” revolutions. Lom, who has used his film career to find and document human rights issues, was behind the HBO documentary “Letters to the President,” a film about Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Lom will attend the screening and guest lecture in two history classes and one philosophy class. He also will give a workshop at 5 p.m., Monday, April 15 in Giant Eagle Auditorium on how to make a documentary on human rights topics. The workshop is free and open to the public.
Opening night (March 21) general admission tickets to the film and reception are $15 and $10 for seniors and students. General admission tickets for all other screenings are $8 and $5 for seniors and students. A full-access festival pass can be purchased for $50 ($25 for seniors and students).
“Faces of Media” is organized by CMU’s Humanities Center. It is sponsored by the estate of Paul Goodman, The Giant Eagle Foundation, Humanities Scholars Program, Center for the Arts in Society, Tepper School of Business, the MEIM and MAM programs of Heinz College, School of Art, Center for African American Urban Studies and Economy, CMU Miller Gallery, CSSA, DOSA, GSA, Student Dormitory Council, Student Senate, Steeltown Film Factory, Point Park University, Pittsburgh Filmmakers, University of Pittsburgh, the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, Media Arts of Robert Morris University and the Carnegie Mellon Center for International Policy & Innovation, as well as media sponsors, WYEP, WESA, WPTS and City Paper.
For ticket reservations, film descriptions and a complete schedule, visit www.cmu.edu/faces/.