American Film Showcase

The American Film Showcase brings award-winning contemporary American documentaries to audiences around the world, offering a view of American society and culture as seen by independent documentary filmmakers. Funded by a grant from the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and administered by the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts, the Showcase highlights the value of documentaries in fostering understanding and cooperation, dialogue and debate.

For the first time, this year’s program will also include a small number of narrative feature films as well as animated narrative shorts and documentary shorts.

Teams made up of a feature filmmaker, film expert and SCA staff member will travel to selected countries for trips that will typically last between seven and ten days. With the support of local American embassies, the filmmaker and expert will screen films as well as participate in a wide range of community and professional activities, including presenting workshops in all areas of production, writing, animation, and even distribution and independent financing.  Trips will generally include traveling outside of the major cities to smaller towns, villages and into rural communities.

This year’s films have won recognition and awards including Academy Award nominations, a National Board of Review Freedom of Expression Award, and a Special Jury Award at the International Documentary Film Festival in Amsterdam, among many other accolades. The documentaries explore diverse topics including civil rights, immigration, adoption, environmentalism and freedom of the press.

The Showcase will provide opportunities for international audiences to become exposed to American viewpoints on socially relevant issues as presented in these films; gain an understanding of the role of filmmaking as a catalyst for dialogue and for exploring solutions to contemporary problems, and allow American filmmakers to learn about life and culture in the foreign host countries. These events will help engage audiences overseas that have access to few, if any, American independent documentaries and narrative films.


Alan Baker
Associate Dean of Administration & International Projects at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts. His experience includes initiation and oversight of several international programs, including 3 years supervising the DoS USC Fusion Arts Exchange summer program from 2007 to 2009, which brought 20 international university students to SCA for 5-week workshops. He is the principal liaison for academic programs in cinematic arts with government and private sector organizations in Qatar, Dubai, India, Malaysia and other locales.  Prior to coming to USC, he had 25 years of television programming and production experience at 20th Century Fox, Paramount Television, and public television.

Mark J. Harris
Distinguished Professor and Co-Head of Advanced Documentary Production at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts, he has taught filmmaking at SCA since 1983. Among his many works are The Redwoods, which won an Oscar for Best Short Documentary; The Long Way Home, which won the Academy Award for Best Feature Length Documentary; Into the Arms of Strangers: Stories of the Kindertransport, which also won an Academy Award for Best Feature Length Documentary; Unchained Memories: Readings from the Slave Narratives, an Emmy-nominated HBO documentary; and Darfur Now, which won an NAACP Image Award.

Michael Renov
Michael Renov, Professor of Critical Studies and Vice Dean for Academic Affairs at SCA, is a documentary scholar and co-founder of Visible Evidence, an international and highly interdisciplinary documentary studies conference begun in 1993.  He is the author or editor of seven books including The Subject of Documentary and Theorizing Documentary.

Alessandro Ago
SCA Director of Programming and Special Projects, he has extensive experience and expertise in programming film screenings, festivals, guest speakers and special events. Both an Italian and American citizen, he grew up in Washington D.C. and Rome, Italy. He holds a bachelor’s and master’s degree from the USC School of Cinematic Arts Critical Studies division.

Rachel Gandin Mark
American Film Showcase Program Administrator and SCA Director of International Programs and Special Initiatives.  Most recently, Rachel produced Walt Disney International Productions’ first Arabic-language feature, The United, released in 2013. For 5 years, she served as a creative consultant for the Sundance Institute’s Screenwriters Lab in Jordan.  Rachel founded the Arab Film Festival in Los Angeles and has worked at 20th Century Fox and Sidney Kimmel Entertainment. She received an M.A. in Arabic from Georgetown University and lived in Cairo, Egypt for more than 3 years.

Jennifer Phan
American Film Showcase Program Coordinator. Jennifer was a recipient of the Gilman Scholarship, sponsored by the ECA at the U.S. Department of State, and spent two years studying and volunteering in various countries including Japan, Hong Kong, Australia, and the United Kingdom. She majored in Business Administration at the University of California, Riverside and has a great passion for film. Jennifer also interned at DreamWorks Animation and Live Nation Entertainment with

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