Social Entrepreneurship in Focus Through Documentary

2010 Convenings

2010 Convenings

January 26-29, 2010 - Sundance Film Festival
Park City, Utah

The SFF 10 Stories of Change convening brought together four internationally known social entrepreneurs to interact with documentary filmmakers at the Sundance Film Festival. They included:

Quratul Ain Bakhteari is the first of her five siblings born to young socially marginalized parents in Multan after the 1947 migration from India to Pakistan. Her family later moved to a refugee camp in Karachi. At 22 having three sons and family responsibilities she did her master in social work from Karachi University. During her Master’s course work and later with UNICEF’s project she mobilized 5,000 families to construct household pit latrines, which became the state policy for of sanitation for low-income people. She introduced the concept of Home Schools for hygiene education by mobilizing 200 young community girls. She did her Ph. D. in 1987 from University of Technology Loughbrough, England, the research was based on her sanitation work. The model was replicated in Quetta’s low income areas in Balochistan. IDSP continues to work with the community on sanitation issues, promoting girls’ education and more.

Martin von Hildebrand, Doctorate in Ethnology (Paris University). For more than 40 years he has developed essential work for the recognition and exercise of indigenous rights, and the protection of diversity in the Amazon region. He has received national and international awards including the Right Livelihood Award (Sweden, 1999), National Environmental Prize (Colombia, 1999), Order of the Golden Ark (The Netherlands, 2004), National Prize of Ecology (Colombia, 2004), Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship (USA, 2009) and Latin-American Social Entrepreneur (WEF Rio de Janeiro, 2009).

Munqeth Meyhar serves as Chairman and Jordanian Director of EcoPeace/ Friends of the Earth Middle East. Mr. Mehyar leads FoEME activities concerning the Jordan River, Dead Sea and the Good Water Neighbors program. As Chairman, his responsibilities include the supervision of international project development and management, liaison and lobbying of governmental and private sector figures on major regional policy issues relevant to environmental protection and development of international contacts and functional partnerships with international environmental and development institutions.

Bunker Roy was moved to respond to India’s 1967 famine, and traveled to Tilonia, Rajasthan, to help rural villagers improve their lives. The organization he founded in 1972, Social Work and Research Centre, which came to be known as Barefoot College, has trained hundreds of solar engineers and teachers – women, dropouts and unemployable youth – in remote villages in 16 Indian states over the past 30 years.

In addition, outreach strategists and film producers Sandi DuBowski, Wendy Levy, Jess Search and Alex Cooke were invited to work with the entrepreneurs for specialized media strategy workshops. Entrepreneurs also had one-on-one meetings with attending industry professionals.

Leading international documentary filmmakers, authors, performers and documentary professionals who participated in presentations, dinners and discussions included Robert Redford, Naomi Klein, Sebastien Junger, Amy Goodman, Alex Gibney, Michael Nash, Greg Barker and Jennifer Baichwal.

The convening featured panel discussions, screenings of selected films from the 2010 Sundance Film Festival, gatherings with filmmakers and jurors from the US and World Cinema documentary competitions, conversations and engagement between all the participants.

Below is a sample of the SFF 10 Convening schedule activities:

  • Private meetings with Davis Guggenheim (Waiting for Superman) prior to the premiere of his film as well as a workshop with Climate Refugees director Michael Nash.
  • A networking event at the Filmmaker Lodge, which provided both a platform and a networking opportunity for entrepreneurs to communicate their work and goals to a wider audience of stakeholders and funders.
  • Dinner events were organized each night for networking purposes, which were followed by film premieres of Climate Refugees (directed by Michael Nash), a private screening of A Small Act (directed by Jennifer Arnold) and the Sundance U.S.A. premiere film, Shock Doctrine by director Michael Winterbottom, based on Naomi Klein’s book.

During the day, the group attended panels at the Filmmaker Lodge and special events such as:

Saving Democracy, A Story At A Time
Democratic values are under siege from every angle; from the suspension of civil liberties to the crisis in information and journalism, and our leading journalists and filmmakers are charting the abuses. Top storytellers discussed the challenges we face as we move through the third century of the democratic experiment. With Amy Goodman (Host, Democracy Now!); Alex Gibney (Casino Jack and the United States of Money); Laura Poitras (The Oath), and moderator Michael Ratner (President, Center for Constitutional Rights).

Speaking Truth to Power: A Film and Social Justice Roundtable
The human rights and social justice movements are gathering momentum globally, and film is part of the surge. Gara LaMarche, President and CEO of The Atlantic Philanthropies, delivered a mini-keynote on film and social justice, followed by a roundtable discussion exploring trends in human rights and social justice storytelling in film today. With Rob Lemkin and Thet Sambath (Enemies of the People) and Gara La Marche. Moderator: Karen Greenberg, (Executive Director, NYU Center on Law and Security)

April 12-17, 2010 - Skoll World Forum
Said Business School, University of Oxford

The sixth Stories of Change convening took place at the Skoll World Forum in Oxford, England. That forum facilitated discussion, debate and critical questioning around the theme of catalyzing collaboration for large-scale social change.

The Oxford convening featured four Sundance DFP-invited documentary filmmakers and film professionals:

Jennifer Arnold is an award-winning feature director/producer whose documentary, A Small Act, which premiered at SFF2010, aired on HBO in the US, and continues to screen at Festivals and theatrically around the world.

Sandi DuBowski is a director, producer and international outreach strategist who created 800 live events with his film, Trembling Before G-D, across the globe. The film has been seen by over 8 million people.

Wendy Levy is formerly the Director of Creative Programming at BAVC, and the Director of the Producers Institute for New Media Technologies. She is currently a Senior Strategist at Tomorrow Partners a full service creative agency with a focus on sustainability that collaborates with clients on what’s next.

Elinyisia Mosha has worked extensively in cable TV and news as a writer and producer in the U.S. and U.K. She is currently in production on her feature documentary debut The Untitled Tanzania Project.

The Convening included panel discussions, formal networking lunches and dinners, and extensive informal networking opportunities for the filmmakers and social entrepreneurs.

During the panel sessions in the main conference, Sundance DFP Director Mertes helped design and participated in a one of the most successful panels at the Forum “Compelling Action: Social Change Media in the Age of Information Overload” which was moderated by Jess Search (Channel Four Foundation), and also featured Premal Shah (, Jim Berk (Participant Media) and Alvin Hall (Author) for a standing room only discussion on the use of media in social change movements. Over 100 people attended each day. The panel was repeated the next day, the only panel during the Forum to be programmed twice.

Mertes spent Friday interviewing key members of the social entrepreneurs community, including Skoll Foundation Executive director Sally Osberg, author Bill Drayton, Paul Hawkins, Premal Shah, Bunker Roy and several other social entrepreneurs.

August 20-22, 2010 - Sundance Creative Producing Summit
Sundance Resort, Utah

The final official convening of 2010 gathered seven award-winning filmmakers working on current and emerging film projects highlighting Skoll-supported social entrepreneurs. The second year of the Sundance Creative Producing Summit offered filmmakers the opportunity to develop their projects with DFP staff, engage with leading independent producers, sales agents and distributors and more during small group sessions, one-on-one meetings and large panel discussions.

Mara-Michelle Batlin is a co-founder and producer at Highest Common Denominator Media Group. She worked for over 2 decades as an executive, consultant and trainer in communications and advocacy for think tanks and NGOs in developing countries, helping to frame issues, develop communications strategies, and interface with critical constituencies for policy reform initiatives. She is co-founder and president of NGOAlliance, whose mission is to create the tools and incentives for transparency and accountability in international NGOs. She previously spent 10 years as an executive in the financial services industry. 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.

Kief Davidson is an award-winning feature film and documentary director, whose latest film Kassim the Dream, about a former child soldier turned boxing champion, premiered at the 2008 Tribeca film festival and won over 10 international film festivals. Additionally, Kassim was nominated by the IDA for Best Feature and was released theatrically by IFC Films. His prior film, The Devil's Miner, won over 15 awards at festivals including Tribeca, Hot Docs, and Chicago. The Devil's Miner sold to over 45 countries and screened theatrically in over 200 cinemas internationally.

Megan Gelstein is a San Francisco-based documentary filmmaker who produced and directed They Made America for the acclaimed history series America Experience. She won a National Emmy Award in the craft category of Research for her work on the six-hour PBS series Africans in America: America's Journey Through Slavery. In addition, she has produced award-winning documentaries that have been nationally broadcast on The History Channel, ITV Network of London, and The Discovery Channel. Megan is originally from Brooklyn, NY, and is a graduate of Oberlin College.

Jehane Noujaim is a filmmaker (Control Room, and the founder of Pangea Day. Noujaim was raised in Cairo, Egypt where she began her career as a photographer. Noujaim produced and directed in association with Pennebaker - Hegedus Films. She has since worked in both the Middle East and the US as a director and cinematographer on various documentaries including Born Rich (Jamie Johnson), Only the Strong Survive (Pennebaker -Hegegus Films/Miramax Films), and Down from the Mountain (Pennebaker - Hedgedus & Coen Brothers).

Cori Shepherd Stern divides her time between international NGO work and producing film. Her credits include The Arizona Project for Miramax, script by Sheldon Turner, Ben Affleck directing. Additionally, Cori is known for her work as a social entrepreneur and innovative strategist for poverty alleviation. Her projects have been featured on BBC, NPR, and Oprah. She was named by ABC World News as “Person of the Week” and O Magazine as “Good Guy of the Month.”

Jonathan Stack is a multiple Emmy Award-winning and two-time Academy Award® nominated documentary filmmaker. During his career Jonathan has written, produced and directed over 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. With HCD Media Group Jonathan directed The Farm: Ten Down a story about a decade behind bars in Angola Prison

The two and one half day day conference included the following panels and events:

Keynote Address by Reed Hastings
The Netflix founder addressed the Summit participants and panelists about the future of content delivery and the key to successful innovations. He then sat for an interview with Sundance Institute Executive Director Keri Putnam.

Industry Case Study: Stories from the Front Line of Distribution and Marketing
Opening discussion of mechanics of distribution and marketing of two of the year’s most successful independent films- documentary Exit Through the Gift Shop and feature Winter’s Bone between moderator Graham Taylor (Endeavor), John Sloss (Cinetic), Ted Mundorff (Landmark Cinemas), Eric D’Arbeloff (Roadside Attractions) and Josh Braun (Submarine).

Financing 101
Small group session hosted by feature producer Impact Partners co-founder Dan Cogan, producer Lynette Howell and financier John Sloss which outlined sources of funding available for documentary and feature producers globally.

Case Study: A Small Act
Led by the films director Jennifer Arnold in conversation with Cara Mertes, covered both the challenges and creative solutions found during the development and production and distribution of this award-winning film.

The program also included two panels on the current state of and future possibilities for independent film marketing and outreach strategies. Panelists included Josh Braun (Submarine Entertainment), Wendy Levy (BAVC), Meredith Blake (Cause & Affect) and Peter Broderick (Paradigm Consulting). The Closing Night presentation brought together prominent figures within the independent film world including Michael Barker (Sony Pictures Classics), Mary Jane Skalski (Producer) and John Sloss (Cinetic).

Filmmaker and entrepreneur teams attended private one-on-one meetings with many of the panelists listed above as well as small group sessions with producers and film funders to pitch their projects and receive high-level feedback.