In the Game has been chosen by the U.S. State Department to be one of the 10 films to participate in the American Film Showcase (AFS), the United States' premier film diplomacy program. AFS organizes screenings and workshops with American filmmakers in more than 40 countries, in partnership with the Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and USC's School of Cinematic Arts.
The film and the film's director, Peabody Award-winner Maria Finitzo, are slated to travel to Tajikistan, India and Morocco in the next six months with the American Film Showcase. The screenings will center around empowering women and girls through sport, as well as encouraging mentorship for girls.
Between December 8th-17th, Finitzo will travel to Tajikistan, located in Central Asia with an estimated population of 8.2 million. Tajikistan is one of the remotest countries in the world with internet penetration estimated at 10% and a rigid, outdated education system fraught with corruption. Tajik students are especially hungry for information about the United States, and nearly every cultural/speaking/performance event put on by the embassy in Dushanbe has standing room only. The purpose of the program with In the Game is to introduce young Tajiks, both in the rural and urban areas, to the concepts of women's involvement in sport, especially soccer. Women's sports are neither developed nor encouraged by Tajik society.
The program will consist primarily of screenings and Q&A's at American Centers across the country, including in cities such as: Dushanbe (capital), Panjakent, Istaravshan, Khujand, Qayrakkum, Isfara and Qurghonteppa.
From February 7th to the 17th, Finitzo and In the Game will travel to India. In India, the rise of the BJP (the party of the Prime Minister) and its appeal to Hindu nationalists has created a sense of uneasiness and, at times, fear, among the three targeted minority communities (Muslims, Dalits and Adivasi/Tribals), none of which supported the BJP in the last national elections. India's own stability and long term growth socially as well as economically will depend in part on the integration of these substantial communities into mainstream society and their empowerment educationally, politically, economically and culturally. The focus of the embassy's AFS program will be to reach out to minority communities, most notably Muslims, Dalits and tribal people, with messages of hope and examples of inspiration.
The film was chosen to screen in India specifically because it portrays the struggle of socio-economically disadvantaged Latina girls striving to get ahead in society to illustrate how the oppressed can beat the odds, allowing space for discussion around: ethnic, religious, racial and class (caste) discrimination at educational institutions, work, and in society at large; the changing legal landscape in India; and parallels with the American experience on these issues.
In April 2017 Finitzo will travel to Morocco. Michelle Obama was recently in Morocco with her Let Girls Learn initiative. The American embassy is aiming to build on that momentum by screening In the Game to young women and girls in a few cities across the country. Particularly potent about the film in its context of screening in the country are its themes of representing and empowering women, as well as American inclusivity. Programming around feminism will also focus on conveying the male component of feminism. In the case of In the Game, the girls' soccer coach, Stan Mietus, portrays an example of strong women being encouraged by supportive, open-minded men.
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