U.S. Embassy Dhaka Hosts Arts Envoys for Virtual Masterclass For Bangladeshi Filmmakers May 11-19
Five U.S. Arts Envoys led the virtual masterclass which included independent films screenings. The masterclass kicked off a year-long partnership with 12 promising Bangladeshi filmmakers to promote free expression in the arts, economic diversification, and greater cooperation between the people of Bangladesh and the United States.
DHAKA, May 18, 2020 – U.S. Embassy Dhaka virtually hosted five U.S. Arts Envoys from the U.S. entertainment industry May 11-19 to engage 12 promising Bangladeshi filmmakers to explore independent film development strategies and best practices and the challenges facing filmmakers in Bangladesh. The Global Media Makers (GMM) program, overseen by non-profit organization Film Independent, organized the masterclass. The Envoys conducting the class included Hollywood script writers, directors, and producers Javier Fuentes- León, Jim Young, Ruth Atkinson, Tatiana Kelly, and cinema expert Maria Bozzi from Film Independent.
The virtual masterclass provided 12 Bangladeshi filmmakers and visual storytellers the opportunity to discuss ongoing projects and receive feedback from the experts and classmates; develop new project ideas; and practice pitching their projects. Sessions throughout the class also covered production, story structure, and a case study of the challenges facing the independent filmmakers. GMM chose the 12 participants in consultation with The Bangladesh Short Film Forum, Khona Talkies, the International Film Initiative of Bangladesh, Dhaka Doc Lab, Box Officer, and Chaibal.
The Global Media Makers (GMM) program, launched in 2016, is an innovative mentorship program by Film Independent in partnership with the U.S. Department of State. The program connects visual storytellers around the world with leading U.S. entertainment professionals through comprehensive filmmaker education, business training, professional networking opportunities and special tailored mentorships.
Film Independent is a nonprofit arts organization that champions independent film and supports a community of artists who embody diversity, innovation and uniqueness of vision. Film Independent helps filmmakers make their movies, builds an audience for their projects, and works to diversify the film industry. Film Independent’s Board of Directors, filmmakers, staff and constituents is comprised of an inclusive community of individuals across ability, age, ethnicity, gender, race and sexual orientation. For more information: https://www.filmindependent.org/programs/global-media-makers/
The U.S. Arts Envoy Program shares the best of the U.S. arts community with the world to foster cross-cultural understanding and collaboration and to demonstrate shared values and aspirations. Under the program, U.S. arts professionals – including performing artists, visual artists, poets, playwrights, theatrical and film directors, producers, curators, and others – travel overseas to conduct workshops, give performances, and mentor young people.
In July 2019, Bangladeshi filmmakers Rezwan Shahriar Sumit and Arifur Rahman participated at the GMM 6-week residency program in Los Angeles, California, which included comprehensive filmmaker education, business training, professional networking opportunities and tailored mentorships. The 2019 residency program and this year’s virtual masterclass are examples of the many U.S. government initiatives to promote free expression in the arts, economic diversification, and greater cooperation between the people of Bangladesh and the United States.
BIOGRAPHIES OF U.S. ARTS ENVOY FILMMAKERS
Javier Fuentes-León, Writer/Director
After becoming a medical doctor in Peru, Javier Fuentes-León studied film at the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) in Los Angeles. His film Rooms (1997) won the Peruvian National Award for Short Films. His first feature, Contracorriente (Undertow), premiered at the San Sebastian Film Festival in 2009 and won over 50 international awards. Fuentes-León is a co-writer and the lead director of the first season of Netflix’s original series Distrito Salvaje (Wild District), shot entirely in Colombia in 2018. He is currently developing the following projects: the TV series Prophet; the fantasy love stories The Women who Feared the Sun, and the rock musical Sinister, for which he’s also writing the music.
Tatiana Kelly, Producer, Serena Films
Tatiana Kelly is currently directing the documentary, How Do I Do It, which chronicles the rise and fall (and rise again) of the enigmatic and outrageous sports bettor, David “Vegas Dave” Oancea, whose sports betting payouts have set world records. Her work in television includes serving as a Supervising Producer on MTV’s The Hills and Executive Producer on the Lionsgate/CMT series Music City as well as producing and line producing pilots for Bravo, E!, USA Networks, and Quibi. Kelly previously worked as an account director at an advertising agency in New York handling clients such as ABC, Showtime, and Lifetime. Kelly holds a master’s degree from the London School of Economics and speaks five languages.
Jim Young, Producer, Animus Films
Jim Young recently produced The Catcher Was a Spy, directed by Ben Lewin and written by Academy Award-nominee Robert Rodat, based on the New York Times’ bestselling book by Nicholas Dawidoff. On the television side, Young has set up and produced projects at Amazon Studios, CBS Network, Legendary Television, Fox, Sony Pictures Television, A&E, UP, Fox Sports, the Golf Channel, and BET. Previously, Young was a Creative Executive at actor Bill Paxton’s American Entertainment Company where he worked on Frailty (Matthew McConaughey) which was released by Lionsgate. Young also worked on the development of various projects for studios including Universal, Disney, Revolution, Screen Gems, and HBO.
Ruth Atkinson, Script Writer and Story Editor
Ruth Atkinson is a Los Angeles-based script consultant and story editor with over 25 years of experience in the film/television business. Ruth has story edited and consulted on many features and short films that have won awards and been distributed internationally including TIFF premieres The Last Porno Show, Saf, Regarde Moi (Look at Me) and Egypt’s Oscar submission Sheikh Jackson. Whistler Film Festival Premiere Fall Back Down. Berinale, Tribeca & TIFF award winner 37 Seconds, Sundance and SXSW special jury award winner Emergency (short), Berinale & SXSW winner Liberty (short). As well as celebrated indies Jonas Chernick’s My Awkward Sexual Adventure, The Perfect Family starring Kathleen Turner, cult favorite Quentin Lee’s The People I’ve Slept With, New Zealand hit Predicament, and Matt Bissonnette’s Genie-nominated Who Loves the Sun starring Molly Parker and Adam Scott. Ruth is also a Screenwriting mentor/advisor for Film Independent’s Project Involve, Global Media Makers, and Screenwriters and Directors Labs. She is also a mentor for the Whistler Film Festival Praxis Screenwriters Lab held annually in British Columbia, Canada and screenwriting mentor for the prestigious RBC Michelle Jackson Emerging Filmmaker Award in St. John’s, Newfoundland. Previously Ruth was a story analyst for the Sundance Institute’s Screenwriters and Directors Labs.
María Raquel Bozzi, Senior Director of Film Education and International Initiatives, Film Independent
María Raquel Bozzi is responsible for conceptualizing, planning, and implementing all of Film Independent’s education curriculum. Under her leadership, the Film Education Department produces over 150 events a year, bringing together over 250 guest speakers representing the best professionals in the independent film community. Ms. Bozzi has an extensive background in film education. For seven years, she taught film and video production in colleges and universities throughout the Los Angeles area, including UCLA, Loyola Marymount University, and the University of California, Irvine. She holds an MFA in Film and Television Production from UCLA.