Saturday, November 22, 2014

Focus Forward Seizes Digital Age To Distribute Short Films


GE and CINELAN today announced the simultaneous multi-platform release of 10 films for its FOCUS FORWARD – Short Films, Big Ideas initiative at a special event at the Ritz-Carlton Residences during Film Independent’s Los Angeles Film Festival. Beginning July 9, in an unprecedented rollout for short films across traditional and nontraditional distribution channels arranged in partnership with Cinetic Rights Management, FOCUS FORWARD films will be distributed across numerous cable and satellite VOD services, gaming system networks, and Internet Free On Demand platforms. Earlier this month, the program unveiled a slate of films first premiered at the 2012 Sundance and Tribeca Film Festivals on iTunes,Amazon Instant Video, Sony PlayStation, CinemaNow, and Vudu. The July 9 launch will bring FOCUS FORWARD films to Comcast, Time Warner, Cox, Charter, Verizon and Rogers.

Also announced at the event, four new 3-minute films by award-winning filmmakers Eddie Schmidt (Twist of Faith), Liz Garbus (Bobby Fischer Against the World), Jeff Reichert & Farihah Zaman(Gerrymandering), and Supriyo Sen (Hope Dies Last in War) will world premiere in the official program at the 2012 LA Film Fest. Two films will be paired with features in the Documentary Competition and Summer Showcase, respectively, and two others will screen in the Short Film Competition. As part of the ongoing day-and-date release strategy, all four of the three-minute films will premiere online on Monday, June 18, at noon EST at These films will eventually be added to others currently live on the multi-platform FOCUS FORWARD distribution network.
“As our program progresses, we’re finally seeing the full blossoming of what’s possible for short films in the digital era,” said CINELAN co-founder Karol-Martesko-Fenster. “Getting films seen has always been the toughest obstacle for short-form storytellers, so we’re proud that the ambitious distribution strategy we’ve developed at CINELAN for FOCUS FORWARD has been met with such enthusiasm by our partners and participants.”  Douglas Dicconson, CINELAN’s Managing Director, added, “It was always our goal to put these films in front of as many people as possible—these stories are meant to inspire and engage the world in conversation. Now on-demand viewers and broadband consumers alike can experience FOCUS FORWARD films for free on virtually any platform available.”
Between January 24 and April 11, the first five FOCUS FORWARD films that debuted at the Sundance Film Festival received 1.1 million unique views online and were shared 3.5 million times by audiences around the world.
“We’re thrilled to be the first to present the latest FOCUS FORWARD films to our audience and support these talented filmmakers,” said Sean Mc Manus, Co-President of Film Independent, which produces the Los Angeles Film Festival. “The films we selected play well on big and small screens, and embody our core values of diversity and innovation for the greater good—the same spirit that’s driving this incredibly forward-thinking program.”
FOCUS FORWARD – Short Films, Big Ideas is a series of 30 three-minute nonfiction films, inspired by GE’s vision of innovative people being the catalyst for world change. Produced by leading documentary filmmakers, the films explore the incredible human power of ideas and invention and will screen at prestigious film festivals globally, followed by day-and-date distribution online and via additional platforms to millions of viewers. FOCUS FORWARD is a supporter of this year’s LA Film Fest and has brought along award-winning filmmakers to inspire emerging talents and encourage submissions to the $200,000 FOCUS FORWARD Filmmaker Challenge, first announced at the Sundance Film Festival in January. Cash prizes will be awarded to the top five entries in the professionally juried Challenge (, with $100,000 going to the Grand Prize Winner. The jury members will be announced this summer.
Qualifying films for the Filmmaker Challenge are three-minute end-to-end stories about people or organizations whose innovative efforts in medicine, computer science, robotics, engineering, green energy, or other fields of art and knowledge have had a significant positive impact on humanity. Recent, cutting-edge inventions that are changing how we live today are of special interest. A selection ofup to 100 Challenge films will be available online to a global audience exclusively through Vimeo and will sit alongside the first 30 films produced by FOCUS FORWARD filmmakers. The Grand Prize and Jury Award winners will be announced at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival.
FOCUS FORWARD has also teamed up with Florida State University and its innovative Torchlight Program, directed by Paul Cohen, to spread word of the Challenge to students and alumni of the nation’s affiliated film-school programs. “This will be the largest cash prize ever awarded to a short documentary film,” said Frank Patterson, dean of Florida State University’s College of Motion Picture Arts. “What’s more, FOCUS FORWARD has created a cool ecosystem for filmmakers in universities across the nation — students, faculty, and alumni — to create and share their works, and to enjoy the possibility of distribution, all while shedding light on ways people are reshaping the world.”
The schedule of FOCUS FORWARD events at the Los Angeles Film Festival is as follows:
SATURDAY, June 16, 2012 | Regal Cinemas LA LIVE, Stadium 14
1000 West Olympic Blvd. | Noon – 1:30pm PST
LA Film Fest panel with Peter Glatzer, Co-Founder,, Amber Lawson, Chairman
of The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Interactive Media Peer Group Membership,
Eddie Schmidt, director, Good Bread; executive producer, Beauty is Embarrassing; and
Thomas Zadra, Head of Business Development for Original Video, Yahoo!
Moderated by Holly Willis, Research Professor, School of Cinematic Arts, USC
Free and open to the public.
Sponsored by FOCUS FORWARD Short Films, Big Ideas


SATURDAY, June 16, 2012 | LA Film Fest Press and Filmmaker Reception | 4 – 5:30pm
FOCUS FORWARD will be sponsoring the Press and Filmmaker Reception,
Including cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. By invitation only.
The four films world premiering at the Los Angeles Film Festival are:
  • GOOD BREAD (Dir. Eddie Schmidt, 2012) – Homeboy Industries is an L.A.-based nonprofit organization that teaches ex-convicts like Noe, a former gang-banger covered in facial tattoos, valuable job skills. Schmidt drops by to watch as Noe and others learn how to bake bread in order to remake their lives.
  • ROBOT (Dir. Liz Garbus, 2012) – Why would I ever listen to a robot, let alone trust one to care for my child or elderly parent? Garbus glimpses our future at the Yale Social Robotics Lab.
  • REMOTE AREA MEDICAL  (Dir. Jeff Reichert & Farihah Zaman, 2012) – An army of clinical volunteers travel by bus and helicopter to the poorest corners of the country every year to provide free healthcare services to thousands of our 44 million uninsured Americans. Reichert & Zaman offer a poignant look at the unpaid professionals striving to put a Band-Aid on a broken system, and the grateful people they help in one West Virginia town.
  • NEW GIFT (Dir. Supriyo Sen, 2012) – Sen meets highly regarded activist, philosopher, and environmentalist Dr. Vandana Shiva, who promotes organic seeding principles to poor farming communities in India blighted by farmer suicides, calling it a “political act.”
The award-winning professional filmmakers who are contributing to the FOCUS FORWARD – Short Films, Big Ideas series include Jessica Yu, Phil Cox, Jeremiah Zagar, David Leitner, Jessica Edwards & Gary Hustwit, Katy Chevigny, Nelson George, Eddie Schmidt, Kief Davidson, Lixin Fan, Michèle Ohayon, Steven Cantor, Jeff Reichert & Farihah Zaman, Fredrik Gertten, Senain Kheshgi, Annie Sundberg & Ricki Stern, Lucy Walker, Liz Garbus, Ross Kauffman, Leslie Iwerks, Steve James, Alex Gibney, Morgan Spurlock, Stanley Nelson, Victor Kossakovsky, Petra Epperlein and Michael Tucker, and Supriyo Sen.

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