Documentary and Video For Change
This week, and next week, we will be exploring the role of video and documentary for social change: looking at a number of filmmakers, activists and advocacy groups who use documentary to make an impact and create social change. We have a number of guest podcasts and speakers this week to help you to think about this. The main focus of this week will be developing your ideas for Challenge 5: Documentary Task
But lets start with a few examples that were nominated for last years ‘Impact Award’ from Current TV, which rewards the films that have made the most social impact:
and here are some of the trailers and the impact that the films made:
The End of the Line (2009), the winner of the award, reveals the impact of overfishing on our oceans.
- Raised £6m to launch the Blue Marine Foundation, dedicated to creating a global network of marine reserves
- Had significant impact on supermarket and consumer brands – from sandwich chain Pret A Manger to cat food brands Sheba and Whiskas all moving to use sustainably-sourced fish
- Used as a strategic lobbying tool in both the UK and European parliaments to engage politicians in the issue of over-fishing
The Age of Stupid (2009). An archivist from the year 2055 looks back on footage to ask: why didnt we do anything about climate change while we still had the chance.
- Launched the 10:10 Global campaign in 46 countries, with over 100,000 individuals signing up alongside corporations and government departments, pledging to cut 10% of emissions
- Launched the “Global Day of Doing” (10:10:10) coordinating over 7,000 local carbon cutting events in 188 countries
- Raised almost £1m to sustain the 10:10 campaign
Burma VJ (2009). Using smuggled/undercover footage from Burma (a country that is ‘closed to the press’) this documentary tells the story of the 2007 protests by thousands of monks.
- With an estimated 30 million viewers, Burma VJ put the issue of Burma firmly on the international agenda
- The ensuing political pressure helped bring about the release of Aung San Suu Kyi
- Inspired a new generation of VJs and independent journalists within Burma
The Reckoning (2009) – Following the story of a prosecutor for the International Criminal Court attempts to enforce international laws against war crimes and genocide.
- The film team distributed, free of charge, screening kits to over 600 NGOs from 78 countries, to raise awareness of the International Criminal Court
- Used extensively in education programmes including a 2-week ‘Teach the Reckoning’ workshop bringing together 700 educators from 70 countries representing a network of over 25,000 high school teachers
- Used widely in Africa; it supported critical debate within the Kenyan judiciary and triggered an investigation into post-election violence
Trouble the Water (2008) – following the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in the USA
- Repeatedly used in strategic political campaigning; from raising a 20,000-strong letter campaign to the speaker of the House of Representatives, to strategic screenings at the national Democratic and Republican conventions
- Triggered a major lobbying effort by 400 campaigners, including hurricane-survivors and supporters from across the country who travelled to Washington DC for training, advocacy and action.
- Launched a “Share Your Story” campaign to gather hundreds of testimonies from constituents that were used to lobby policy leaders.
This week we want you to think about how you can use video and documentary to raise awareness of your creative activism projects, obviously we are not expecting you to be producing the above (many of these films have taken many years to come to fruition) but hopefully they will inspire you about the positive impact that media campaigners can make.
Week Four Task/Challenge 5
This weeks task is Challenge 5: Documentary Task .
We have some talks that you can listen to from Emily James, Director of the Documentary film called Just Do It, Sam Gregory from the video and human rights advocacy group called Witness and Charles Tsai from the Social Creatives.
It is also worth looking at these articles and sites to help shape your thinking:
- Reel to Reel: can documentaries change the world? from the Guardian, 6th October 2011
- Films For Action - projects and films related to activism and change
- Working Films - linking non fiction film with activism
- WITNESS- A not for profit organisation promoting the use of video in Human Rights campaigns.
- An Academic Article exploring the Activism Work of Robert Greenwold and Brave New Films