USC to collaborate with state on film showcase

The Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs has awarded the USC School of Cinematic Arts a $1-million grant to collaborate on the American Film Showcase program, it announced Oct. 11.

The program has its origins in Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s ‘smart power diplomacy.’ The program is aimed at utilizing movies to improve the understanding of American culture worldwide.

Beginning 2012, it will include narrative films in addition to the documentaries that are already a part of it. A panel of 25 filmmakers and experts, which includes Michael Apted, Rob Epstein, Marco Williams and Mary Sweeney, along with the organizations International Documentary Association and Film Independent, will be selecting 35 movies to recommend to U.S. embassies for screening abroad.

In addition, about 40 Showcase filmmakers and experts will be holding seminars and classes on filmmaking, animation, digital technology and emergent media.

“We think having the stories of contemporary life in the US shown through these different perspectives is a tremendously powerful way to communicate things about our country,” said Marjorie Ames, Division Chief for Cultural Programs at the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, to the Los Angeles Times.