By MCN Editor


For Immediate Release

September 6, 2011

Stories of Change: Social Entrepreneurship in Focus Through Documentary Initiative to Continue Through 2013; Additional $1 Million Granted to Program

First Story and Impact Workshop for Social Entrepreneurs to be Sept. 19 in New York City

Los Angeles, CA — The Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program and the Skoll Foundation today announced the extension of their partnership for the initiative Stories of Change: Social Entrepreneurship in Focus Through Documentary. The partnership, dedicated to exploring film’s role in advancing knowledge about social entrepreneurship, began in 2007. It will continue through 2013, with an additional $1 million program grant.

Stories of Change has supported nearly 100 filmmakers and social entrepreneurs through a strategic combination of high-level, invited gatherings and documentary film project funding. Convenings at the Sundance Film Festival, the Skoll World Forum, the Sundance Institute Creative Producing Summit and related gatherings have created a network of learning and professional exchange for documentary filmmakers, change-makers, and their stakeholders. The partnership has also enabled the production of 10 new, feature-length independent documentary films that reframe and amplify social entrepreneurship – an innovative approach to the central issues of our time.

The additional funds granted to the Institute will provide continued support to these10 films and will expand their impact through the development and implementation of story-related strategies that engage short-form, interactive, mobile, social media and other web-based technologies.

The Documentary Film Program and the Skoll Foundation will also host the first Stories of Change Story and Impact Workshop on September 19 at the Paley Center for Media in New York City. Sessions and presentations by the Documentary Film Program, documentary filmmakers and media advisors will create a framework for defining and articulating entrepreneurs’ unique personal and organizational stories. A select group of Skoll Foundation-awarded social entrepreneurs, including subjects of feature films in production as part of the Stories of Change initiative, have been invited to participate.

“We are enormously grateful to the Skoll Foundation for continuing to support the vision of our Documentary Film Program, and for deepening their relationship with the Institute and the independent documentary field in this meaningful way,” said Keri Putnam, Executive Director of Sundance Institute. “As a nonprofit organization, the ongoing commitment of foundations like the Skoll Foundation allow us to continue our year-round work with filmmakers and projects across the country and around the world.”

“We are thrilled to continue our partnership with Sundance Institute, which supports filmmakers who share our passion for creating lasting, transformative social change. The Institute has a unique capacity to examine and amplify that passion for a global audience,” said Sally Osberg, CEO of the Skoll Foundation. “The Foundation’s aim is to invest in, connect and celebrate the efforts of world-changing social entrepreneurs. And there’s no better way to celebrate them than by telling their stories – accurately, profoundly, well. Sundance Institute is, and will continue to be, a key partner in this work.”

“The Stories of Change partnership has resulted in inspiring collaborations between leading documentary filmmakers and social entrepreneurs, including feature documentary films, presentations and consultancies which forefront the power of storytelling to transform understanding and motivate people towards change,” said Cara Mertes, Director of the Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program. “The continued collaboration will focus on storytelling, social entrepreneurship and impact, as we see the efforts of social entrepreneurs and storytellers inspire advancement around the world.”

In addition to critical funding from the Skoll Foundation, the Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program is made possible by generous support from the Cinereach Foundation, The Charles Engelhard Foundation, The Ford Foundation, The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Open Society Foundations, the S.J. and Jessie E. Quinney Foundation, the Woodruff Charitable Memorial Trust, and the Wallace Global Fund.

Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program

The Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program provides year-round support to nonfiction filmmakers worldwide. The program advances innovative nonfiction storytelling about a broad range of contemporary social issues, and promotes the exhibition of documentary films to audiences. Through the Sundance Documentary Fund, the Documentary Edit and Story Laboratory, Composers + Documentary Laboratory, Creative Producing Lab, as well as the Sundance Film Festival, the Sundance Creative Producing Summit and a variety of partnerships and international initiatives, the program provides a unique, global resource for contemporary independent documentary film.

Sundance Institute

Sundance Institute is a global nonprofit organization founded by Robert Redford in 1981. Through its artistic development programs for directors, screenwriters, producers, composers and playwrights, the Institute seeks to discover and support independent film and theatre artists from the United States and around the world, and to introduce audiences to their new work. The Institute promotes independent storytelling to inform, inspire, and unite diverse populations around the globe. Internationally recognized for its annual Sundance Film Festival, Sundance Institute has nurtured such projects as Born into Brothels, Trouble the Water, Son of Babylon, Amreeka, An Inconvenient Truth, Spring Awakening, I Am My Own Wife, Light in the Piazza and Angels in America.

Skoll Foundation

The mission of the Skoll Foundation is to drive large scale change by investing in, connecting and celebrating social entrepreneurs and the innovators who help them solve the world’s most pressing problems. Social entrepreneurs are society’s change agents, creators of innovations that disrupt the status quo and transform our world for the better. By identifying the people and programs already bringing positive change around the world, the Skoll Foundation empowers them to extend their reach, deepen their impact and fundamentally improve society. Over the past 10 years, the Foundation has awarded more than $250 million, including investments in 85 remarkable social entrepreneurs and 70 organizations on five continents. It has also shared the stories of social entrepreneurs through partnerships with leading film and broadcast organizations such as the PBS NewsHour and Sundance Institute, helping drive public awareness of social entrepreneurship and its potential to address the critical issues of our time.

# # #


Back to School

Director: Kirsten Johnson

Producer: Julia Parker Benello

Social Entrepreneur: Sakena Yacoobi

Sakena Yacoobi’s Afghan Institute for Learning, a grassroots organization she founded 12 years ago, brings education to women in Afghanistan. Due to security concerns about filming a feature-length documentary in Afghanistan at this time, this project is a short film which premiered at the Skoll World Forum in 2010.


Barefoot Engineers (working title)

Director: Jehane Noujaim

Producer: Mette Heide

Social Entrepreneur: Bunker Roy

An intimate observational documentary that follows three women with limited formal education as they take a life-changing journey from their home villages in Africa and the Middle East to India in order to become educated in solar engineering.

Easy Like Water

Director: Glen Baker

Producer: Stephen Sapienza

Social Entrepreneur: Abul Hasanat Mohammed Rezwan

In Bangladesh, solar-powered floating schools are turning the front lines of climate change into communities of learning. As the water steals the land, one man’s vision is recasting the rising rivers as channels of communication and transforming people’s lives.

Green Shall Overcome

Director/Producer: Megan Gelstein

Social Entrepreneur: Van Jones

Van Jones, an African American civil rights lawyer and founder of Green for All, envisions a pathway out of poverty for low-income Americans while simultaneously addressing the challenges of environmental destruction. Can he bring about a revolution of black and green?

Poor Consuelo Conquers the World

Director: Peter Friedman

Producer: Paul Miller

Social Entrepreneur: PCI-Media Impact

Poor Consuelo Conquers the World tells the story of popular soap operas and telenovelas that are being used to combat the effects of poverty around the world. The film makes the connection between the fictional stories and the real lives of the fans and shows that in the post-TV/Internet age, radio remains a vital way to reach millions of the world’s poor.

The Revolutionary Optimists

Directors/Producers: Maren Grainger-Monsen and Nicole Newham

Social Entrepreneur: Amlan Ganguly

In the slums of Calcutta, children are leading the way to saving lives. Amlan Ganguly, a lawyer turned social entrepreneur, empowers children to become “health minders” in their communities. As a result, malaria and diarrhea rates are dropping, neighborhoods being transformed, and children are blossoming. The Revolutionary Optimists shows both the desperate, flawed world that Ganguly is trying to change and the vibrant, colorful world his optimism is making a reality.


Directors/Producers: Annika Gustafson and Phil Jandaly

Social entrepreneurs: Camilla Wirseen and Anders Wilhelmson, Peepoople; Bob Erwin, MaxWest; Dr. Kamal Kar, CLTS; and Dr. Pathak, Sulabh International.

Access to clean water is a human right, but if we cannot talk about why the water is contaminated in the first place, change will not happen. Using animation to look at innovative ways of producing green energy from human waste, SH*T! is a socially minded film that plays fast and loose with taboo and relevant issues. It tells you how to save the planet, improve the economy while you do it, and have a laugh or two in the process. You’ll be sorry you flushed.

The Team

Director: Patrick Reed

Producer: Peter Raymont

Social Entrepreneurs: John Marks and Susan Collin Marks/Search for Common Ground

Using a technique developed by Search for Common Ground to employ popular culture as a tool for reconciliation, Kenyans scramble to produce a dramatic TV soap-opera series, hoping taboo story lines can bridge deep divisions as their country is wracked by ethnic and tribal tensions in the wake of elections.

To Catch a Dollar: Muhammad Yunus Banks on America

Director: Gayle Ferraro

Social Entrepreneur: Muhammad Yunus

This film journeys with Dr. Muhammad Yunus, 2006 Nobel Peace Laureate and the architect of microfinance, as he continues building opportunities for the poor worldwide through Grameen microcredit and his latest venture, social business. The film chronicles the first year of Grameen America and the challenge of marrying a process proven in developing countries to the American dream of immigrant women in Queens, New York.

Untitled Partners in Health

Director: Kief Davidson

Producer: Cori Sheperd Stern

Social Entrepreneur: Paul Farmer

This is the story of Partners In Health, a remarkable public health charity organization operating in thirteen of the poorest countries around the world and the controversial man who founded it, Dr. Paul Farmer. Dr. Farmer and his colleagues are larger-than-life heroes to millions, fighting to change the way the world cares for the poorest among us, by insisting on quality health care as a basic inalienable human right.

Youthbuild Documentary

Directors/Producers: Annie Sundberg and Ricki Stern

Social Entrepreneurs: Dorothy Stoneman and YouthBuild

This feature-length documentary follows a year in the lives of out-of school young people selected for a high-stakes community rebuilding project in North Philadelphia.

# # #

Comments are closed.

Quote Unquotesee all »

“Ten years ago at Telluride, I said on a panel that theatrical distribution was dying. It seemed obvious to me. I was surprised how many in the audience violently objected: ‘People will always want to go to the movies!’ That’s true, but it’s also true that theatrical cinema as we once knew it has died. Theatrical cinema is now Event Cinema, just as theatrical plays and musical performances are Events. No one just goes to a movie. It’s a planned occasion. Four types of Event Cinema remain.
1. Spectacle (IMAX-style blockbusters)
2. Family (cartoon like features)
3. Horror (teen-driven), and
4. Film Club (formerly arthouse but now anything serious).

There are isolated pockets like black cinema, romcom, girl’s-night-out, seniors, teen gross-outs, but it’s primarily those four. Everything else is TV. Now I have to go back to episode five of ‘Looming Tower.'”
~ Paul Schrader

“Because of my relative candor on Twitter regarding why I quit my day job, my DMs have overflowed with similar stories from colleagues around the globe. These peeks behind the curtains of film festivals, venues, distributors and funding bodies weren’t pretty. Certain dismal patterns recurred (and resonated): Boards who don’t engage with or even understand their organization’s artistic mission and are insensitive to the diverse neighborhood in which their organization’s venue is located; incompetent founders and/or presidents who create only obstacles, never solutions; unduly empowered, Trumpian bean counters who chip away at the taste and experiences that make organizations’ cultural offerings special; expensive PR teams that don’t bring to the table a bare-minimum familiarity with the rich subcultural art form they’re half-heartedly peddling as “product”; nonprofit arts organizations for whom art now ranks as a distant-second goal behind profit.”
~ Eric Allen Hatch