In 2010, Sundance Institute's Documentary Film Program was invited by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to create six short films––working with independent documentary filmmakers––on several of the foundation's priority issue areas: global health; financial services for the poor; and improving US education. So began an exciting partnership designed to harness the power of documentary storytelling to create greater awareness around key global issues. Sundance DFP staff was fortunate to be able to call on the skills and commitment of many outstanding filmmakers already working in the topic areas. The resulting Sundance | Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation collection of films, featured below, are global, presenting remarkable stories of challenges and solutions. Filmed in Bangladesh, India, Haiti, Kenya, Congo (DRC), Lesotho as well as the United States, the six films illustrate personal stories of communities leading vaccination drives; empowering the poor with safe and affordable means to manage their money, success at an urban American charter school and an intimate portrait of parenting while HIV positive. Each film is linked to a community of stakeholders, and represents the work of some of the leading documentarians working today. Join us in discovering more about the issues and the storytellers.
–– Cara Mertes, Director, Documentary Film Program
Making Money Mobile
In post-earthquake Haiti cell phones saved lives. This short film follows how mobile technology may also play a key role in building a new financial system.
Mara-Michelle Batlin, Producer
Mara-Michelle is a co-founder and producer at Highest Common Denominator Media Group. She worked for more than two decades as an executive, consultant, and trainer in communications and advocacy for think tanks and NGOs in developing countries. She served as the executive director of Hernando deSoto’s Instituto Libertad y Democracia in Lima, Peru, and extensively as an advisor to the Egyptian Center for Economic Studies in Cairo. She is co-founder and president of NGOAlliance, whose mission is to create the tools and incentives for transparency and accountability in international NGOs. Batlin has a B.A. in economics from Mills College, where she serves on the Board of Trustees. She studied at the London School of Economics and the Naval Postgraduate School, and received an MA in international policy and economic development from the Monterey Institute for International Studies.
Jonathan Stack, Director
A multiple Emmy Award-winning and two-time Academy Award® nominated documentary filmmaker. During his career Jonathan has written, produced, and directed more than 25 films and 50 television programs including The Farm: Life Inside Angola Prison, which was honored with the Sundance Film Festival’s Grand Jury Prize. His films have been distributed through HBO, BBC, A&E, Channel Four, the Discovery Channel, National Geographic Channel, and many others in 20 countries. With HCD Media Group, Jonathan directed The Farm: Ten Down, a story about a decade behind bars in Angola Prison.