Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program Announces Grant Award Recipients For Stories Of Change

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Los Angeles, CA – Sundance Institute announced today the first five grant recipients of the STORIES OF CHANGE: SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURSHIP IN FOCUS THROUGH DOCUMENTARY initiative, a $3 million, three-year partnership with the Skoll Foundation designed to explore the role of film in advancing knowledge about social entrepreneurship. This partnership creates new opportunities for leading social entrepreneurs and outstanding documentary filmmakers to collaborate and to create new projects about the innovative approaches found in both fields. The development and production grant awards announced today support the creation of feature-length independent documentary films that examine social entrepreneurship as an innovative approach to the central challenges of our time.  Representatives from these five funded teams will be in Park City during the Sundance Film Festival. Additional film grants will be announced in the coming weeks. $1.2 million is allotted for production funding over the course of the STORIES OF CHANGE partnership.

“Social entrepreneurs are working on some of the biggest challenges the planet faces, from climate change to water scarcity to conflict.  They have created workable solutions to tough problems, and it’s important to tell their stories both to inform and inspire people,” said Sally Osberg, President and CEO of Skoll Foundation. ” We’re extremely pleased with the caliber of submissions to the STORIES OF CHANGE initiative, and look forward to seeing the outcome of these collaborations between filmmakers and social entrepreneurs.”

In 2008, STORIES OF CHANGE launched a request for proposals and received more than 300 film projects from around the world from filmmakers interested in telling the stories of social entrepreneurs. The advisory committee included CNN Chief International Correspondent Christiane Amanpour, celebrated documentary filmmaker Eugene Jarecki (Why We Fight, The Trials of Henry Kissinger) and Skoll Foundation senior advancement officer Sandy Herz.

“In their optimism, integrity and intelligence, the films that are recognized today reflect the deep challenges we face as a global community. They are about the transformative change that social entrepreneurs exemplify,” said Cara Mertes, Director of the Sundance Documentary Film Program.

A combination of invited gatherings and documentary film project funding, the partnership believes that powerful storytellers and innovative changemakers can benefit from each other. In addition to funding the creation of new documentary films, STORIES OF CHANGE supports convenings of leaders in both documentary film and social entrepreneurship at key gatherings globally over the course of the three year partnership, including the Skoll World Forum and the Sundance Film Festival.

BACK TO SCHOOL – Development

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.


Director: Tracy Heather Strain/Co-Director: Megan Gelstein

Social Entrepreneur: Van Jones

Van Jones, an African American civil rights lawyer, 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 – Development

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, now being used to combat the effects of poverty around the world.

THE TEAM – Production

Director: Patrick Reed

Producer: Peter Raymont

Social Entrepreneurs: John Marks and Susan Collin Marks

Kenyans scramble to produce a dramatic TV soap opera series, hoping taboo storylines can bridge deep ethnic divisions, as their country teeters on the brink.


Director: Annie Sundberg

Social Entrepreneur: Dorothy Stoneman

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

Founded by Robert Redford in 1981, Sundance Institute is a not-for-profit organization that fosters the

development of original storytelling in film and theatre, and presents the annual Sundance Film Festival.

Internationally recognized for its artistic development programs for directors, screenwriters, producers, film composers, playwrights and theatre artists, Sundance Institute has nurtured such projects as Angels in America, Spring Awakening, Boys Don’t Cry and Born into Brothels.

The Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program is dedicated to supporting U.S. and international feature documentary films that focus on human rights, social justice, civil liberties, and other pressing contemporary social issues. Since 1996, the Fund has supported more than 450 artists in 52 countries, providing a continuum of support throughout the life of a project. Films supported by the Fund have included My Country, My Country; Iraq in Fragments; Why We Fight; Born Into Brothels; The Inner Tour; The Betrayal (Nerakhoon); Traces of the Trade and Trouble the Water. In addition to the Fund, The Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program provides year-round support to nurture nonfiction filmmakers worldwide through three Creative Labs, at the Sundance Film Festival and the Sundance Independent Producers Conference, and through collaborative international initiatives.  Visit  or for more information.

The Skoll Foundation was created in 1999 by eBay’s first president, Jeff Skoll, to promote his vision of a more peaceful and prosperous world. Today the Skoll Foundation advances systemic change to benefit communities around the world by investing in, connecting and celebrating social entrepreneurs – individuals dedicated to innovative, bottom-up solutions that transform unequal and unjust social, environmental and economic systems. The Skoll Awards for Social Entrepreneurship is the foundation’s flagship program. There are currently 50 organizations represented by 59 remarkable social entrepreneurs, working individually and together across regions, countries and continents to evolve the field of social entrepreneurship into a global movement for social change. The Skoll Foundation connects social entrepreneurs and other partners in the field via an online community at, and through the annual Skoll World Forum on Social Entrepreneurship. The foundation also celebrates social entrepreneurs by telling their stories through partnerships with the PBS Foundation and the Sundance Institute, with the goal of promoting large-scale public awareness of social entrepreneurship. For more information, visit

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Media Contact:

Amy McGee,

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