The U.S. Department of State and Film Independent, the non-profit arts organization that produces the Spirit Awards, the LA Film Festival and the Film Independent at LACMA series, announced  that they are launching Global Media Makers, a new international film exchange program. Global Media Makers is an innovative mentoring initiative that will connect visual storytellers from around the world with leading U.S. entertainment professionals through specially tailored mentorships, workshops and master classes.

Program mentors include Effie Brown (Dear White People, Project Greenlight, EVP of Production and Development at Lee Daniels Entertainment), Kirby Dick (The Invisible War, The Hunting Ground, This Film Is Not Yet Rated), Jay Duplass (Transparent, The Puffy Chair, Cyrus), Ava DuVernay (Middle of Nowhere, Selma), Rodrigo Garcia (Mother and Child, In Treatment, Carnivale), Matthew Greenfield, EVP Production Fox Searchlight, Kelly Kulchak, Head of Current Programming, DreamWorks Animation TV, Alix Madigan-Yorkin, Head of Creative Affairs, Broad Green Pictures, Jeremy Podeswa (Game of Thrones, The Newsroom, Boardwalk Empire), Alan Poul (The Newsroom, Six Feet Under, Swingtown), Mary Sweeney (The Straight Story, Mulholland Drive) Robin Swicord (Little Women, Memoirs of a Geisha, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) and Nancy Utley, President, Fox Searchlight.

Mentors will work closely with Film Independent’s Senior Director of Education and International Initiatives Maria Raquel Bozzi and Director of Artist Development Jennifer Kushner to build a curriculum that reflects best filmmaking practices in their areas of expertise. Mentors will advise Global Media Makers Fellows with the development of their projects and help them expand their professional networks with other media makers in the U.S.

“We are honored and thrilled to be working with the State Department on this important new initiative,” said Film Independent President Josh Welsh. “We live at a time when the cultivation of strong, independent voices that can communicate across cultural boundaries has never been more important. This cross-cultural program allows us to serve talented filmmakers from around the world.”

“Film has the power to transcend traditional barriers and provide an opportunity for dialogue on shared issues,” said Evan Ryan, State Department Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs. “Through our partnership with Film Independent, we’re investing in the development of international filmmakers and cultivating lasting professional networks.”

For the first year of this program, 12 film, television, and new media makers will be selected from Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco and Turkey.  Global Media Makers Fellows will receive in-depth filmmaker education, business training and professional networking opportunities. Participants will travel to Los Angeles to work on projects with a team of American mentors and receive state-of-the-art training and industry access to support conceptual development of independent, authentic and compelling content for distribution in their home countries and foster creative cross-pollination between filmmakers from around the globe. 

Selected filmmakers will be recognized as Film Independent Fellows, and will receive career long networking, support and eligibility to apply for Film Independent grants.

The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) builds relations between the people of the United States and the people of other countries through academic, cultural, sports, professional and private exchanges, as well as public-private partnerships and mentoring programs. ECA initiatives build connections that engage and empower people, and motivate them to become leaders and thinkers; to develop new skills; and to find connections that will create positive change in their communities. ECA incorporates 21st century diplomacy themes into effective projects and activities that engage the U.S. and international participants long after their exchange programs have concluded. 

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. Anyone passionate about film can become a Member, whether you are a filmmaker, industry professional or a film lover.

In addition to producing the Spirit Awards, Film Independent produces the Los Angeles Film Festival and Film Independent at LACMA Film Series, a year-round, weekly program that offers unique cinematic experiences for the Los Angeles creative community and the general public.

With over 250 annual screenings and events, Film Independent provides access to a network of like-minded artists who are driving creativity in the film industry. Film Independent’s Artist Development program offers free Labs for selected writers, directors, producers and documentary filmmakers and presents year-round networking opportunities. Project Involve is Film Independent’s signature program dedicated to fostering the careers of talented filmmakers from communities traditionally underrepresented in the film industry.