CWB & Palm Springs IFF announce Jury & nominees for the 2019 GoE Bridging The Borders Award


Burbank, CA – January 2nd,, 2019: Today, Cinema Without Borders and Palm Springs International Film Festival  announced jury members and the seven nominees for GoE Bridging The Borders Award at 2019 Palm Springs International Film Festival selected by Palm Springs International Film Festival Programmers. The Bridging The Borders Award at the 2019 Palm Springs International Film Festival will be given to the most successful film in bringing the people of our world closer together.

Cinema Without Borders’ jury members to decide the 2019 winner of the GoE Bridging The Borders Award are:

Rakhshan Banietemad
Rakhshan Banietemad, born in 1954 Tehran, began to make documentaries for the Iranian National Television in 1979. From 1979 to 1987 she focused on making only documentaries. In 1987, she directed her first feature film Off the Limits. In 1991, she became the first woman recipient of the Best Director award for Nargess at Fajr International Film Festival in Iran. In 1995, she won the Bronze Leopard for The Blue Veiled at the Locarno Film Festival. Under the Skin of the City, her next film, was the highest grossing film in Iran in 2000. This film along with Gilaneh (2005) and Mainline (2006), garnered major awards in more than 50 film festivals.
While Banietemad’s feature films have been acclaimed and honored worldwide, her documentaries have also been successful and popular internationally. Our Times …, was the first documentary ever to be released in the movie theatres in Iran in 2002. It was also screened in highly prestigious and prominent festivals and TV channels such as IDFA, Sundance Film Festival and ARTE.

In 2008, she received an honorary doctorate from University of London, in 2010, she was awarded the Prix Henri Langlois from Vincennes International Film Festival. Her latest feature film, Tales, was awarded the Best Screenplay prize in the main competition section of 2014 Venice International Film Festival.
More recently, she has joined the Academy Oscar, Writers branch in 2017.

Jan Cvitkovič,
Jan Cvitkovič, the Slovanian filmmaker, is an Archeologist, writer, director. His films were presented worldwide and received awards such as Lion of the Future (Dino de Laurentis Award) in Venice, Best Director Award in San Sebastian, and many others (around 50). Two of his films were Foreign Language Oscar Candidates (Bread and milk, Gravehopping).

In 2001, Jan wrote and direct his first feature film, Bread and Milk (Kruh in mleko). In 2002 Jan worked on another TV series called Death is Far Away… (Daleč je smrt…) and then in 2003 he made Heart is a Piece of Meat (Srce je kos mesa), a short film that brought him 3 awards.
His feature film, Gravehopping (Odgrobadogroba) has won numerous awards in international film festivals. Gravehopping  also won the Cinema Without Borders Critics Award for the Best Film at 2007 Southeast European Film Festival.

Jim Miller
Jim Miller is the Executive Director of Brave New Films, a position he has held for the past 11 years. Most recently he produced the documentary ‘Making A Killing: Guns, Greed, and the NRA. In addition, he produced the docs ‘Koch Brothers Exposed’, ‘War on Whistle blowers’ and ‘Unmanned: America’s Drone Wars’. Jim is responsible for helping to form our partner coalitions to help spread our videos throughout the world. His film experience began over 25 years ago working on the film…


Sedika Mojadidi
SEDIKA MOJADIDI, director/producer/cinematographer, is an Award winning independent filmmaker, Sedika Mojadidi has directed two feature documentaries, “Motherland Afghanistan,” (2006, PBS< Independent Lens) and “Facing the Dragon”, (PBS, 2018). Some of her television work includes: the critically acclaimed ABC News documentary series, “Boston Med” and television/documentary projects for PBS, The Discovery Channel, TLC, A&E, Guardian Multi Media and Human Rights Watch. Her writing is published in “One Story, Thirty Stories: An Anthology of Contemporary Afghan American Literature”. She is the recipient of the Human Rights Watch Courage in Filmmaking Award and the Savannah Film Festival Jury Award for Unheard Voices.


Susan Morgan Cooper
Susan Morgan Cooper is a Director/Producer/ Writer and her credits include:
To the Moon and Back, Documentary, Director/Producer/Writer 2016 (A cinematic act of love and courage’ … Broadway World) – Hopper [In his own words] Documentary, Producer/Writer 2013 (“I was moved to tears” Mike Medavoy) – Mulberry Child, Documentary, Director/Producer/Writer 2012 (‘A powerful and touching film’… 31/2 stars. Roger Ebert) – An Unlikely Weapon [The Eddie Adams Story]..Documentary, Director/Producer/Writer 2008 ( ‘A terrific documentary’ The Hollywood Reporter) – Making Of Shadows in The Sun, Documentary, Director/Producer/Writer 2005 – Heroes And Sheroes. Television Series, Director/Producer/Writer 2000
Mirjana: One Girl’s Journey, Documentary, Director/Producer/Writer 1997 – Stringers, Narrative Short Director/Producer/Writer 1990 – Hadley’s Rebellion, Narrative Feature Associate Producer 1989

Neda Nobari
Neda Nobari is a community activist and founder of the Neda Nobari Foundation, a decade-old private foundation that advocates for social justice through the arts and education. Social Impact Cinema is one of the five tightly related focused areas of the foundation, seeking to capture critical, complex narratives reflecting societal problems and essential global struggles of our time through the power of storytelling, serving to catalyze personal and community action in the spirit of engaged civic activism and bringing a renewed meaning to democracies driven by people power.

Before launching her career in community service, Nobari was the Vice Chair and founding member of Bebe Stores, Inc. for 22 years. Nobari is a graduate of San Francisco State University (B.S. Computer Science ‘84) and Dartmouth (M.A. Liberal Studies, ‘15.) Her graduate research at Dartmouth focused on the intersection of diaspora and cultural identity of Iranian-American women.

Daniel Sawka
Daniel was born in Sweden and started working as a child actor in theater. After directing and acting in his own amateur theater productions Daniel made short films and left Stockholm to train as an actor at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.
His theater background laid the foundation for his work in film. After writing and directing shorts Daniel attended the MFA Directing Program at the AFI Conservatory in Los Angeles.
Daniel’s short film Icebox, which the feature is based on, was shortlisted for the 2018 Academy Awards, won the Grand Jury Award at AFI Fest and screened at Telluride, Clermont-Ferrand, Seattle International Film Festival and Gothenburg among other festivals.
Icebox is Daniel’s first feature film. The film was created together with Gracie Films and Endeavor Content and produced by James L. Brooks, Richard Sakai, Julie Ansell and David Greathouse.

Adam Shepherd
Adam Shepherd, President and Chief Executive Officer of Go Energistics (GoE), has been a champion for social awareness and strong supporter of numerous non-profit organizations dedicated to healing. As the founder of (GoE) a Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business (SDVOSB), Adam is devoted to serving the men and women of our Nation’s military, Veterans, and their families by supporting the health care systems that serve them.

Adam not only witnessed but experienced first-hand, how people all over the world are eager to connect beyond their borders and despite their [perceived]differences. Continually moved by the spirit of people, Adam actively seeks out opportunities to encourage and enact positive social awareness and change.

Adam’s appreciation for the arts, especially cinema and its power to globally unite people, drives him to serve a higher purpose that goes beyond traditional borders. Adam’s philosophy and core belief that each of us can have a positive impact in our world are echoed through GoE’s sponsorship of the Bridging the Borders Award; which recognizes and highlights those who are most successful in bringing people of our world closer together through film.

Bijan Tehrani
Bijan Tehrani a film director, film critic and writer, works as Editor in Chief of Cinema Without Borders. Bijan has won several awards in international film festivals and book fairs for his short films and children’s books. For the tenth anniversary of Cinema Without Borders, Bijan has received Ambassador of International Cinema Award from South east European Film Festival, Friend of the Festival Award from Polish Film Festival, LA and Gateway to International Cinema


The seven nominees for GoE Bridging The Borders Award at 2019 Palm Springs International Film festival are: City of Joel (USA) – Dead Pigs (China)- Eldorado (Switzerland) – The Extraordinary Journey of Celeste García (Cuba/Germany) – The Grizzlies (Canada) – Miriam Lies (Dominican Republic/Spain) – and Smuggling Hendrix (Cyprus/Germany/Greece). 

The award ceremony will be held on January 12th and the winner of  GoE Bridging The Borders Award offered by Cinema Without Borders and sponsored by Go Energistics, will receive a cash award of $2500.

City of Joel (USA) – Directed by Jesse Sweet

When Hasidic Rabbi Joel Teitelbaum, a Holocaust survivor, saw his followers beginning to lose their way in mid-1970s Brooklyn, he moved the congregation to Monroe, about 50 miles north. The strictly observant community thrived and grew to 22,000 members living in an enclosed 1.1-square-mile area. The subject of Jesse Sweet’s complex documentary — which features unprecedented access to the “City of Joel” and its inhabitants — is the sect’s desire to annex another 550 acres and the resistance it faces from other Monroe citizens, who see their lifestyles threatened. Striving for balance in an emotional inferno where anti-Semitism lurks just beneath the surface, Sweet interviews members of the Hasidic sect, the leaders of the anti-annexation citizens’ group, and town officials, all the while documenting the growing friction between the sides. What the film reveals is a hornet’s nest of conflicting opinions and attitudes that couldn’t be a timelier evocation of a divided community.

Dead Pigs (China) Directed by Cathy Yan

In Cathy Yan’s smart and polished debut feature, a mysterious wave of livestock deaths becomes an unlikely throughline in the lives of five very different people living in and around present day Shanghai. Impressive visual style draws the viewer in to gradually discover the connections among these complex individuals, and explore undercurrents of class, pride, and the clash between traditional ways and the promise of progress. The acting ensemble won a special jury prize at the film’s Sundance premiere, for characters including a pig farmer enamored of virtual reality, an expat architect, a businesswoman/pigeon enthusiast (dynamically portrayed by Vivian Wu), a waiter in an upscale restaurant, and one of his wealthy regulars. Each one cultivates the public version of themselves, hiding secrets and masking loneliness. Yan nods to her journalism background with the frequent presence of the media, and layers compassionate explorations of her characters into a biting commentary on consumerism and the drive toward modernization.

Eldorado (Switzerland) Directed by Markus Imhoof

The plight of refugees has been an ongoing and very personal issue for Swiss director Markus Imhoof, whose fiction feature The Boat Is Full was a foreign language Academy Award® nominee in 1982 and whose documentary More Than Honey was a Festival favorite in 2013. His documentary Eldorado tracks today’s African and Middle Eastern refugees on their dangerous journey to Europe and parallels it with his memories of a malnourished Italian child his family took in just after World War II — and who died after the Swiss government forced her to return home. In promotional materials for the film, Imhoof reveals his inspiration for his new work, “One of today’s principles is ‘Refugees for reasons of economic plight do not count as refugees,’ because most fall under this category. I would not have thought 35 years ago that the title of my film [The Boat Is Full] would be concrete and urgent enough once again to force me to shoot another film on the subject.”

The Extraordinary Journey of Celeste García (Cuba/Germany) Directed by Arturo Infante

Ignored by her son, mistreated by her sister, and with her days as a beloved schoolteacher behind her, Celeste García sits idly as the days of her drab workaday life pass by, her only bit of happiness coming from her job as a guide at the famous Havana Planetarium. But when the government reveals that aliens from the planet Gyrok have been living in Cuba and are ready to return the favor by taking select citizens back to their home planet, she unexpectedly finds herself chosen to make the intergalactic trek alongside failed musician Hector Francisco, husband-hunting Perlita, and insomniac butcher Augusto. Soon Celeste finds herself face-to-face with the joys and fears of renewal — and her own long buried secret — in this warm, funny directorial debut by acclaimed screenwriter Arturo Infante that proves you don’t always have to travel to a distant galaxy to find yourself (but it helps).

The Grizzlies (Canada) Directed by Miranda de Pencier

Based on a true story, The Grizzlies is more than the usual triumph through sports story, for it doesn’t shy away from moving depictions of the poverty and isolation characteristic of too many northern communities. When first-time teacher Russ Shepherd comes to Kugluktuk, he brings preconceived notions about northern life and no little hubris about his self-imposed mission to bring about change. An interconnected chain of dramatic incidents, however (and some quieter cross-cultural corrections) lead Russ to understand that education is a two-way street. Initially, the hastily built lacrosse team seems mild after-school fun, but soon becomes the lightening rod for the community’s differing views on its future. Driven by remarkable performances by the young, Nunavut -based cast, and seeded with unassailable authenticity because of it’s dramatic location, The Grizzlies proves to be one of the most unexpectedly affirming films of the year.

Miriam Lies (Dominican Republic/Spain) Directed by Natalia Cabral & Oriol Estrada

For sensitive teen Miriam, life really shouldn’t be much more than sunny afternoons spent with best friend Jennifer, talking about boys and making preparations for their upcoming shared quinceañera. The product of a short, troubled mixed-race marriage, the shy teen is often made to feel like an outcast within her own working-class Dominican family for being darker than the rest, leading her to find comfort in an online relationship with sympathetic suitor, and potential quinceañera date, Jean-Louis. Yet when Jean-Louis reveals himself to be black, Miriam feels the weight of a badly broken society bear down on her young shoulders, driving her to create a web of tall tales, excuses, and deepening coverups in this powerful feature debut from co-writers/directors Natalia Cabral and Oriol Estrada, the latest in an exciting new wave of cinema from the Dominican Republic.

Smuggling Hendrix (Cyprus/Germany/Greece) Directed by Marios Piperides

The on-the-ground realities of a divided Nicosia and its complicated political situation come through loud and clear in this delightful comedy, directed with the lightest of touches. The protagonist is Yiannis, an about-to-emigrate Greek-Cypriot musician. When his beloved dog Jimi (Hendrix, natch) accidentally wanders over to the Turkish side of the capital, European Union laws bar the pooch’s return. So Yiannis is forced to think creatively, since their ticket to Amsterdam is set for three days hence. Can Yiannis retrieve his dog, avoid his angry landlady, dodge the menacing collectors sent by a local loan shark and get to the airport on time? Traveling to the Turkish side of Nicosia marks a journey into his own past, complete with a visit to his childhood home and a fraught reunion with his beautiful former girlfriend. As this crowd-pleaser ups the comic ante by placing more and more outrageous obstacles in the way of returning with the dog, it also reinforces the common humanity of all involved in the recovery project.


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Cinema Without Borders' reporters from around the globe search and find international cinema content for our audience. when an outside source is used, we provide you with a link to the original source at the end of the article

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