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National Geographic All Roads Film Festival Celebrates Contemporary Stories Of Global Cultures Through Film, Photography, Live Music


Sudanese Rap/Hip Hop Artist Emmanuel Jal Headlines Festival in First U.S. Appearance

Egyptian Theater, Los Angeles: Sept. 28-Oct. 1;
National Geographic Society, Washington, D.C.: Oct. 5-8

WASHINGTON (Aug. 8, 2006)--National Geographic will showcase the works of some of today’s foremost and up-and-coming indigenous and under-represented minority-culture filmmakers, photographers and music performers at its third annual All Roads Film Festival, to be held Sept. 28-Oct. 1 at the Egyptian Theatre in Los Angeles and Oct. 5-8 at the National Geographic Society in Washington, D.C.

Some of this year’s stand-out films include the features “Zero Degrees of Separation,” a documentary focusing on the challenges that gay/lesbian Arab-Israeli couples encounter in their adopted and native Israeli homeland; “The Journey of Vaan Nguyen,” the story of a young, Israeli-born Vietnamese woman who confronts issues of her identity as she and her father travel to Vietnam to reclaim the land their family lost decades earlier in the midst of Communist strife; and the Mexican short “Sueños Biacionales (Binational Dreams),” a look at the civil and financial obstacles that Oaxacan Indian communities face as they try to forge a life for themselves in the United States and provide for their families back home.

The four-day event will feature an eclectic mix of short- and long-form features, documentaries and animated works, a walk-though photography exhibit and live music performances. Tibetan vocalist Yungchen Lhamo will perform before the opening film, and a live concert by one of the African music scene’s most popular artists, Sudanese rapper Emmanuel Jal, will serve as a highlight of the festival.

This year’s music program is presented by, an immersive Web site that celebrates traditional and nontraditional music from around the globe through music, stories and video. The Washington event will also feature an art market with art, crafts and handiwork from global artisans.

“We’re excited by the geographic range and cultural diversity at this year’s festival,” said Francene Blythe, director of the All Roads Film Project. “The themes that populate these works — family, love, respect for one’s culture and the search for identity — are universal to mankind, yet each culture approaches them in a unique way, and that’s what makes them so interesting. If there’s one thing we’d like people to take away from our festival, it’s that despite our differences, we all yearn for the same things — happiness, prosperity, peace and respect for ourselves, our families and our communities.”

This year’s festival will present five programming strands: “Women Hold Up Half the Sky,” a spotlight on women filmmakers; “Ancestors, Elders and Land”; “Northern Lights,” a focus on life in the Arctic North; “Under the Same Sun,” a look at the struggle people endure as they confront dual cultural identities; and “Protecting Paradise,” Pacific Islanders’ struggle to protect their sacred land. Films represent a diverse range of countries, including Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Finland, India, Israel, Mexico, South Africa, Tibet, United States and Vietnam.

A new, family-friendly animation program has been added this year at the Aero Theatre in Santa Monica, Calif., and National Geographic Society in Washington.

All Roads will feature the world premiere of “Mi Papai (My Grandmother),” by All Roads seed grant recipient Sandi Hoffman, and “Petroglyphs of Rapanui,” by seed grantee Santi Hitorangi. Films making their U.S. debuts are features “5 Seasons,” “Milarepa” and “My First Contact” from seed grant recipients Mari Correa and Kumare Txicão, and shorts “De La Patada,” “Dulce Convivencia (Sweet Gatherings),” and “Mare.” Features “Arctic Son,” “Jaisalmer Ayo! Gateway of the Gypsies,” “Mauna Kea: Temple Under Siege,” “The Journey of Vaan Nguyen” and “Time & Tide” will be making their Los Angeles and Washington debuts alongside shorts “The Last Supper,” “Plastic Leis,” “Sa’ah” and “Taina-Kan: The Big Star.” Feature “Zero Degrees of Separation” and shorts “Gesture Down: I Don’t Sing,” “Lucky” and “Sueños Binacionales” will premiere in Washington.

This year’s photography program, sponsored by Manfrotto, features the works of four photographers: Iranian Newsha Tavakolian, whose “Iran: Women in the Axis of Evil” offers a rare glimpse into the veiled lives of Iranian women; Mayan Sandra Sebastian Pedro, whose “Inherited Violence” depicts her nation’s gang-related brutality with unforgiving detail; Bangladeshi “photo activist” Saiful Huq, whose “Stolen Dreams — The Story of the Abandoned Victims of Political Violence” captures the story of the people and families affected by political bombings in Bangladesh; and Larry McNeil, Idaho artist, educator and member of the Tlingit and Nisga’a nations from the United States and Canada, whose mixed-media project, “Fly by Night Mythology,” offers a distinctive perspective on Native American biculturalism. The awardees’ work will be exhibited in Los Angeles in the courtyard at the Egyptian Theatre and in Washington in the courtyard at National Geographic.

In Washington only, All Roads will offer two panels on culture and art. The first, “The Geography of Art: Weaving Culture and Tradition,” will feature artisans from the art market, who will discuss the role of art within their culture. Immediately following, “Culture through the Digital Medium” will feature the 2006 All Roads photographers and special guests, internationally renowned South African photographer Peter Magubane and Corcoran College of Art Photography Chair and New York Times photo critic Andy Grunberg, who will discuss the crossroads of technology and minority photographic storytellers in a global world.

Music headliner Emmanuel Jal makes his debut performance in the United States at this year’s festival. Described by USA Today as “Kenya’s hottest rapper,” Jal, a former child soldier in the Sudan People’s Liberation Army, who later sought refuge in Nairobi, Kenya, now raps on the subject of peace. In 2005 he released his debut CD “Ceasefire,” with venerable Muslim musician Abdel Gadir Salim.

Named for the recent peace agreement reached in Sudan to end its decades-long civil war, the CD features Jal rapping in four languages — Arabic, Swahili, English and Nuer — and combines a mix of music styles that the Philadelphia Weekly recently described as a mix of “Kanye West and OutKast with African and Arabic rhythms.” Jal, recently profiled in The New York Times, performed at Live8 and works with the Campaign to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers. He will be performing at All Roads with his band, Reborn Warriors.

National Geographic’s All Roads Film Festival will feature a selection of shorts and online-exclusive shorts in podcast format on Additional podcasts will also feature an extended photo digital presentation, with exhibited works from this year’s All Roads photographers and bonus images; the All Roads trailer; selected music performances; and interviews with filmmakers and photographers.

The All Roads Film Festival is part of the All Roads Film Project, a National Geographic initiative to provide a global platform for indigenous and under-represented minority-culture storytellers around the world to showcase their talents and teach a broader audience about their cultures. In addition to providing a venue for their films, All Roads offers its filmmakers and photographers a series of networking opportunities with leaders of the film and photographic community. The All Roads Film Project awards up to 10 seed grants a year to support the development and production of film and video projects by and about the indigenous and under-represented minority-culture film community. Seed grant recipients are considered for inclusion in the All Roads Film Festival and other National Geographic-affiliated broadcast venues. The All Roads Photography Program provides winning photographers with seed money, cameras and photography equipment to assist with their fieldwork.

About National Geographic

The National Geographic Society is one of the world’s largest nonprofit scientific and educational organizations. Founded in 1888 to “increase and diffuse geographic knowledge,” the Society works to inspire people to care about the planet. It reaches more than 350 million people worldwide each month through its official journal, National Geographic, and four other magazines; National Geographic Channel; television documentaries; radio programs; films; books; videos and DVDs; maps; and interactive media. National Geographic has funded more than 8,000 scientific research projects and supports an education program combating geographic illiteracy. For more information, visit

About the American Cinematheque

Established in 1981, the American Cinematheque is a non-profit viewer-supported film exhibition and cultural organization dedicated to the celebration of the Moving Picture in all of its forms. At the Egyptian Theatre, the Cinematheque presents daily film and video programming which ranges from the classics of American and international cinema to new independent films and digital work. Exhibition of rare works, special and rare prints, etc., combined with fascinating post-screening discussions with the filmmakers who created the work, are a Cinematheque tradition that keep audiences coming back for once-in-a-lifetime cinema experiences. The American Cinematheque renovated and reopened (on Dec. 4, 1998) the historic 1922 Hollywood Egyptian Theatre. This includes a state-of-the-art 616-seat theatre housed within Sid Grauman’s first grand movie palace on Hollywood Boulevard. The exotic courtyard is fully restored to its 1922 grandeur. The Egyptian was the home of the very first Hollywood movie premiere in 1922. In January 2005 the American Cinematheque expanded its programming to the 1940 Aero Theatre on Montana Avenue in Santa Monica. or


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