CONGRATULATIONS!!!

ARMAND ASSANTE WINS BEST SHORT DOCUMENTARY AT GIFF

"Actor Armand Assante was in a Tampa based production meeting LAST WEEK and did not hear the news until last night that he had won the Best Short Documentary Prize at the Gasparilla International Film Festival in Tampa, Florida for the powerful 27 minute film that he wrote and directed, "DIALOGUE FROM THE STEPPES." It was Presented by Digital Domain.

The film, in his own non biased opinion sums us why the nation of Kazakhstan has every right to be progenitor of the "World Forum Of Spiritual Culture," a major global peace initiative founded in principles by Kazakhstan's president, Nursultan Nazarbayev and spearheaded by senator Tolegen Mukhamedzanov of that nation's Parliament.

The forum consists of leading thinkers, writers, scientists as well as artists from around the world that actively create civilized dialogue between nations to confront issues plaguing the international community.

Four Americans attending this year included Johnathan Granoff, founder of the Global Security Institute. Bawa Jain, President of the World Council of Religious Leaders and Robert Chase, founding director of 'Intersections International' a multi faith initiative at the collegiate church of New York. As well as Armand Assante who was impressed in the last two years enough to write and create the documentary.

During an audience discussion at the CineBistro Theatre following the screening, Assante said, "What Kazakshstan has endured in the last three hundred years and especially in the last 80 years is the reason why this country sets a precedent for tolerance and peace initiatives that affect the world and the planet. Their president has worked wonders in the last 20 years taking it from a country once near starvation to the most seriously considered of New International Players in all categories. He eliminated the fourth largest nuclear arsenal in the world from Kazakhstan which they had inherited from the soviets and which had disastrous radiation fallout consequences. He was the first in that region who demanded from Russia the voice of the Kazakh peoples be heard."

Assante was originally invited to Kazakhstan by the Kazakhstan Film Festival for his film "California Dreamin'" which garnered awards at more than 21 international film festivals in 2007. Unable to attend because of his work schedule he made the trip later that year encouraged by a Kazakh American Producer Erken Ialgashev. assante became fascinated with the people and their culture.

"The Kazakhs were the original nomadic horse culture. What impressed me was their indomitable will to survive the cruelest of conditions and a remarkable sense of humor and overwhelming hospitality in the face of it. Today they have emerged as the fastest grown and strongest economy in Central Asia. They have been fantastic to me personally. I have returned there ten times and I always will. I am grateful to Erken Ialgashev and Tologen Mukamendzanov to introduce me to their country and for being my partners on the film."

Assante has been working in Kazakhstan more than six months this year producing a feature film for Kazakhstan for entrepreneur Mussa Dauren, founder of Khazar Pictures entitled "The Whole World At Our Feet." Assante is now in discussion as well for two future productions for Tampa, Florida. Assante received the career achievement award from The Gasparilla International Film Festival three years ago. - GIFF

Armand Assante

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