Social Entrepreneurship in Focus Through Documentary

Films Poor Consuelo Conquers The World
Poor Consuelo Conquers The World
Poor Consuelo Conquers The World

Poor Consuelo Conquers The World

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It all started by accident in 1969, when a Peruvian telenovela character worked her way out of poverty using a sewing machine; and suddenly sewing machines flew off the shelves by the thousands all over Peru. That incident, combined with the social modeling theories of psychologist Albert Bandura, demonstrating the power of fictional media characters to act as role models and influence behaviors of viewers, inspired a brilliant Mexican director named Miguel Sabido to create popular telenovelas designed both to entertain and to address urgent social issues. His first series were huge commercial hits and demonstrably contributed to skyrocketing enrollments in literacy classes and significant declines in population growth rates in heavily overpopulated Mexico. He revised and refined his formula until it became a scientific methodology that soon spread all over the world with success after success, and ultimately helped create an entire field, now known as Entertainment-Education. Sabido essentially created an affordable, exportable model for socially sustainable development, all while creating hit show after hit show. Like Sabido’s work, our documentary Poor Consuelo Conquers the World is both entertaining and solution-oriented in its approach to social change.


Storytelling, connecting with audiences via film and television with a goal of creating lasting social change is a core precept of the Stories of Change project. Poor Consuelo Conquers the World, looks at both historical and contemporary examples of Entertainment-Educational from a global perspective, ranging from Bolivia to Mexico, India to South Africa, and Afghanistan to the US. The focus is on empowering the poor and illiterate multitudes to make beneficial behavior changes that improve their daily lives. As one of the principal creators of this form of storytelling, Miguel Sabido’s innovation was to formalize the age-old notion of telling stories to educate a wide public, and adapt it for mass media in the form of telenovelas. He made it purposely entertaining but with specific aims that were often counter to the prevailing culture, such as a soap-opera addressing family planning at a time when family planning was illegal and even unconstitutional in Mexico. His family planning telenovela, made with the agreement of the government, the Catholic Church, and even the Communist Party, spurred a significant reduction in population growth rates in Mexico and persuaded India’s the-Prime Minister, Indira Ghandi, to invite Sabido to India to oversee the development of India’s first soap-opera, Hum Log. This lead to the creation of the first NGO dedicated to producing social-issue soap operas, PCI-Media Impact, now active in dozens of countries, and dozens of similarly dedicated NGOs/producers world wide including the Center for Media and Health in the Netherlends, the Vermont-based Population Media Council (PMC), Puntos de Encuentro in Nicaragua, The BBC World Service Trust in India, Search for Common Ground in Palestine and elsewhere, Soul City in South Africa, and many others.

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Director: Peter Friedman

Peter Friedman recently began shooting The Devil is in the Detail: Portrait of an Artist, an in-depth portrait of one of the world’s greatest and least famous artists at work. Friedman is also developing two features, Fatherless: A bipolar tragic-comedy and The Death of Philip Brooks. He has been making documentaries since 1980, when his first short was nominated for an Academy Award. Silverlake Life, in 1993, won the Sundance Grand Jury Prize among many other prizes, and is universally considered among the most important films ever made about AIDS. Death by Design, in 1995, is widely considered a landmark, and significantly influenced the way science is represented on film. Mana-Beyond Belief, (IDFA 2005), co-directed with Roger Manley, is a globally shot visual essay about the power of objects.

Producer: Paul Miller

R. Paul Miller, now head of the Doha Film Commission in Qatar, produced of Snow Angels (2007), A Love Song for Bobby Long (2003), Prozac Nation (2000), Men with Guns (1998), and Lone Star (1993), as well as an associate producer on The Secret of Roan Inish (1994). In addition, Miller is Head of Production at Escape Pictures.

Social Entrepreneur: Miguel Sabido and PCI-Media Impact

In 1984 Miguel Sabido, the father of Entertainment-Education (and the hero of Poor Consuelo), was invited by Indira Ghandi to develop and launch India’s first soap opera. Hum Log soared to the top of entertainment charts and drew a regular viewing audience of more than 50 million people. It also began to change family planning attitudes and practices thoughout India. The New York based NGO PCI-Media Impact was born, and to this day continues producing radio and television programs to promote family planning and many, many other issues in dozens of countries throughout the world.

During one of these programs a young character, Shandi, asked a question on the radio drama Taru that echoed throughout Bihar, India: Why don’t I have a birthday? See, little girls in Bihar didn’t celebrate their birthdays. Only boys did. Over the course of a few weeks, Shandi, aided by a social worker, Taru, planned and hosted her birthday party. Soon after the broadcasts, girls throughout Bihar began to celebrate their birthdays.

But the change didn’t stop there. Birthdays were symbolic of other inequalities – who went to school, who ate first, who received the best medical care. These things started changing too. An entire village decided it was time for all little girls to receive an education, so that year little girls got to go with their brothers to school.

Each of our 100 programs has a Shandi, someone who asks the seemingly simple question that transforms a society. These stories have reached 1 billion people in 34 countries. That’s the power of Entertainment-Education. We think it’s pretty cool and invite you to learn more by watching the video below and exploring the rest of our website.

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