Carnegie Mellon International Film Festival celebrates migration

The 2011 Carnegie Mellon International Film Festival: Faces of Migration celebrates the art of filmmaking and will run March 17–April 10 with a special screening on Wednesday, March 2. The Carnegie Mellon International Film Festival brings independent and foreign films spanning multiple genres, from documentaries to short fictional films. The theme of this year's festival is Faces of Migration. The collection explores migration as an individual issue as well as a socio-political issue with humor and intensity through the eyes of international filmmakers.

The Carnegie Mellon International Film Festival has been organized by a body of students led by Jolanta Lion, the assistant director of the Humanities Center, and David Shumway, the director of the Humanities Center. This year’s theme was chosen to align with the Humanities Center’s lecture series, Identities in Conflict: The Recognition of Migrants, and to get viewers to think about how migration relates to them. Caitlin Cowley, a graduate English student who has been working on the festival, explained, “Migration is becoming a bigger issue. In the United States, we’re bombarded with these images of Mexico and [the] United States’ relationship. So the goal of this festival is to get people think[ing] about migration and what it means in the contemporary world, to us as individuals. People, I don’t think, have asked themselves enough about how important this issue is to the global community.”
Putting together the festival has been a highly involved process. Once they chose the theme of “migration”, the festival’s organizational team researched new movies, looking only at films released within the past year or two. They contacted directors, researched other film festivals, and looked at award-winning films from around the world, trying to find films that would best fit the theme of Carnegie Mellon’s festival. Cowley explained that the festival’s team was looking for innovative films with “poignant, controversial, [or] rousing depictions of migration.”

One of the team’s challenges was to find films that represented all parts of the world. Cowley said, “One of our biggest struggles was trying to find an African film about migration from an African director.... You’d think, oh my God, with all these conflicts that [have] been going on in Africa, [it would be easy].... [But] we literally could not find a good, decent film about migration in Africa.” In the end, though, the festival managed to represent most regions fairly well, other than Africa and Australia. The team watched over 50 movies, eventually narrowing its list down to 14 films to show in five theaters throughout Pittsburgh.

Picking the films was only part of the process — the film festival organizers then had to secure the rights to show every one of the films. Furthermore, a major cost in running a film festival is transporting the actual physical film from international locations to Pittsburgh for screening. Transportation costs can go upward of $600 and screening fees can be as high as $1,000.

There will be a special screening of Separations this Wednesday at 8 p.m. in McConomy Auditorium as a sneak preview to the festival. The film’s director, Mieke Bal, will be attending the screening to host a panel discussion about the identity of Jewish migrants. Sababa, a Middle Eastern grill in Squirrel Hill, will be providing authentic Middle Eastern food prior to the screening, and there will be a raffle during the event for a dining gift certificate.

The food, panel discussion, and raffle will not be specific just to the Separations screening. Rather, the Carnegie Mellon International Film Festival will incorporate these different elements into many of its screenings. As Cowley explained, “They are not just about these films; they are event screenings. We’ll have hip-hop dancers, panel discussions with professors from Carnegie Mellon University and University of Pittsburgh, and local leaders.” When attending the festival, one will not just be going to see a movie, but will also be taking a journey to see different cultures and points of view.

Genre-wise, the festival should have something for everyone. Norteado (Northless) is an “artistic meditation on ... migration; [it’s a] visual story,” Cowley said. “In Norteado, there is a story there but just as much as the actual content or plot, part of the aesthetic is the visual of the deserts of Tehuana.” Norteado will be screened on March 19 at the Melwood Screening Room.

Les Arrivants (The Arrivals), showing March 16 at the Melwood Screening Room, is a French comedy that focuses on two very different women who are both social workers that manage immigrants coming into France. At the screening, there will also be a Skype session with the directors of the movie, Claudine Bories and Patrice Chagnard, as well as French pastries from Paris 66.

The Carnegie Mellon International Film Festival will also celebrate the art of filmmaking by showing short films that have been made locally in Pittsburgh. The entries represent a wide range of views and experience in film making.

The Carnegie Mellon International Film Festival: Faces of Migration will show a wide range of films that cannot be seen elsewhere in the area. The selections to be presented include award-winning films from film festivals around the world. These unique experiences come at a bargain for Carnegie Mellon students — for only $20 for the Full Access Festival Pass, this festival will transport you around the world and back.

Ticket Prices:
Opening Night (March 17) with Reception: $15/$10 Student
Regular Admission: $7/$4 Student
Full Access Festival Pass (Excluding opening night): $40/$20 student

March 2

Carnegie Mellon University Special Screening: Separation. McConomy Auditorium. 8 p.m.

March 17

Les Arrivants (The Arrivals). Melwood Screening Room, North Oakland. 7:15 p.m.

March 18

Hanoi-Warszawa (Hanoi-Warsaw). Melwood Screening Room. 7 p.m.
Warszawa do wziecia (Warsaw Available). Melwood Screening Room. 7 p.m.
Littlerock. Melwood Screening Room, North Oakland. 9 p.m.

March 19

First of All, Felicia. Melwood Screening Room, North Oakland. 5 p.m.
Norteado (Northless). Melwood Screening Room, North Oakland. 7:30 p.m.

**March 20 **

Akadimia Platonos (Plato’s Academy). Regent Square Theater. 5 p.m.

March 25

Pink Saris. Kelly-Strayhorn Theater. 7:30 p.m.

March 26

Neukölln Unlimited. McConomy Auditorium. 5:30 p.m.

April 7

Gitmek: My Marlon and Brando. McConomy Auditorium. 7 p.m.
Cubant Shorts: Our Common Experience of Living. Future Tenant Gallery, Downtown. 7:30 p.m.

April 8

Dooman River. McConomy Auditorium. 7 p.m.
Immigrant Nation: The Battle for a Dream. College Hall, Duquesne University. 4 p.m.

April 9

Immigrant Nation: The Battle for a Dream. McConomy Auditorium. 6 p.m.

April 10

Diplomat. SouthSide Works Cinema, Southside. 7 p.m.