New Focus on Documentaries

CUNY School of Law Dean Michelle Anderson, center, and Executive Vice Chancellor and University Provost Alexandra Logue congratulate Johnny Clegg at his award ceremony.

International filmmakers brought “The World Through Women’s Eyes” into focus at the Graduate School of Journalism in April with a global documentary festival launched to recognize the importance of such films in covering world events in a time of decline in international news coverage.

“It was all that we envisioned at the start and more … not just filmmakers talking about films,” said film board founder and chairman Lonnie Isabel.

Isabel said the University’s journalism school recently has also started a documentary film class and he expects that student film projects and discussions will be part of the next documentary festival. He also hopes to keep attracting a wider group of diverse contributors and audiences of high school as well as college students, said Isabel, who is also a reporter, editor and director of the International Reporting Program at the J-school.

The focus of the documentary festival may or may not change from women’s rights next year, he said, because “women’s issues are so pressing” and this year’s festival films just scratched the surface. He also hopes to generate deeper discussions in New York City that relate to global concerns affecting women, such as child marriage and rape as a weapon of war.

This year’s festival lineup included films demonstrating global struggles focused on women’s subjugation, worker exploitation, poverty and resistance in Haiti; six women’s courageous efforts to shape Nepal’s future in the midst of an escalating civil war against insurgents and the king’s crackdown on civil liberties; and a group of brave and visionary women who demanded peace for Liberia, a nation torn to shreds by a decades old civil war.