U.S. film directors Ted Braun and Marilyn Agrelo delivered keynote speeches at the 60 Second International Film Festival (www.60siff.com), held March 8 at the Pakistan National Council of the Arts in Islamabad. Braun and Agrelo are visiting Pakistan with the U.S. State Department’s American Film Showcase (AFS), a touring program that brings U.S. documentaries and film experts to audiences around the world. Their tour is organized in partnership with University of Southern California’s (USC) Film School.
Braun and Agrelo praised the festival’s efforts in building filmmaking capacity among Pakistan’s youth. They also spoke about the power of film to raise awareness of social issues and create social change. “Across the whole range of cinematic arts, filmmakers can bring to life the dreams and struggles of everyday people, engage the pressing questions of our times, and stir audiences to act,” Braun said.
During their visit to Pakistan, Braun and Agrelo will lead workshops for emerging filmmakers, hold roundtable discussions of the U.S. film industry with film professionals, and host screenings of the American documentary film Side by Side. The documentary draws on in-depth interviews with Hollywood masters, such as James Cameron, Martin Scorsese, and Steven Soderbergh to explore how new digital technology is revolutionizing filmmaking. “Without this new digital technology, a competition like the 60 Seconds Film Festival would not be possible, so it is fitting that we are discussing this film tonight,” Agrelo said.
“We’re thrilled to support Pakistan’s film industry by bringing the American Film Showcase program to Pakistan, and by creating institutional linkages between the U.S. and Pakistani film industries, professionals, and teachers,” said U.S. Embassy Cultural Attaché Robert Raines.
Ted Braun is a writer/director whose critically-acclaimed feature film Darfur Now was named one of 2007’s top five documentaries by the National Board of Review. International Documentary Association awarded Braun their prize as the Emerging Filmmaker of the Year in 2007. Movie Maker Magazine named him one of 25 filmmakers whose work has changed the world. He is an Associate Professor in Screenwriting at USC.
Marilyn Agrelo is a film director who made her debut with the documentary Mad Hot Ballroom, about a dance education program in New York City’s public schools. The film is in pre-production for its Broadway debut. Marilyn’s 2009 feature film, An Invisible Sign, was released by IFC Films. She has directed episodes of the Emmy-winning children’s series The Electric Company for Sesame Workshop and is currently at work on a documentary feature about women in Afghanistan.