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American filmmakers visit Zim

American filmmakers Judy Lieff and Claire Aguilar will this week visit Zimbabwe on a cultural exchange programme.

By own correspondent

The duo will showcase their work and expertise through workshops and seminars on film-making in Harare and Bulawayo.

Supported by the State Department’s American Film Showcase programme, the visit is being facilitated by the United States Embassy Public Affairs Section (PAS) in partnership with the Zimbabwe International Film Festival Trust (ZIFFT).

“We are excited about the two filmmakers’ visit to Zimbabwe,” said Jillian Bonnardeaux, acting public affairs officer at the US Embassy in Harare.

“We hope to use the visit as not only a platform to share and discuss their films and expertise, but also to link with, support and enhance the arts industry in Zimbabwe.”

The American Film Showcase programme brings prestigious contemporary American documentaries, feature films, and animated short films to foreign audiences.

It offers audiences around the world an extensive and diversified look at contemporary American life and values and demonstrates the role of film as a catalyst for dialogue and change.

Lieff’s documentary Deaf Jam was screened on January 29 at Book Café in Harare in partnership with the Women Filmmakers of Zimbabwe (WFoZ).
Deaf Jam is the story of deaf teen Aneta Brodski’s bold journey into the spoken word slam scene.

In a wondrous twist, Aneta, an Israeli immigrant living in the Queens section of New York City, eventually meets Tahani, a hearing Palestinian slam poet.

The two women embark on a duet creating a new form of slam poetry that speaks to both the hearing and the deaf.

Bonnardeaux said Lieff and Aguilar would hold sessions for established filmmakers on a variety of topics, including devising effective festival strategies, distribution planning and fundraising methods, scoring, and experimental filmmaking.

“We are excited about the double advantage this programme brings to the Zimbabwe film landscape,” said Elton Mjanana, director of ZIFFT.
“It reaffirms what ZIFFT stands for in terms of practical skills transfer and cross culture exchanges. It also means ZIFFT is back!”

The two filmmakers bring a variety of experience and knowledge in the film industry. Lieff is a recipient of a National Dance/Media fellowship from the Pew Charitable Trusts, and a six-time grant recipient for media projects with youth and has years of experience working in production and post-production on commercials, industrials, shorts, and EPKs for feature films.

Aguilar, who will arrive in Zimbabwe following participation at the Sundance Film Festival, co-curates the Independent Lens series, a series of independent programming on PBS, which premiered in February 2003.

She also served as a programming consultant and panelist for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the Rockefeller Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Pew Fellowships in the Arts and other media and funding organisations and will be in Zimbabwe, coming straight from the Sundance Film Festival.

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