What happens when the trajectories of two apparently disparate fields cross paths? What emerges from that intersection point where some of the most creative minds of our time collide like atoms brought together by two thought leaders who, like scientists in a lab, have a hunch that something powerful will happen when you combine proactive elements?
That’s what happened when Robert Redford met with Jeff Skoll. Together they imagined a collaboration that would become Stories of Change: Social Entrepreneurship in Focus Through Documentary Film. The idea was to combine the power of storytelling and the growing social entrepreneurship movement to reframe, examine, and amplify an innovative approach to solving the central issues of our time.
Officially launched in 2008, Stories of Change (SOC) needed some careful nurturing in its early days. It required identifying filmmakers who recognize the similarities they share with social entrepreneurs, and social entrepreneurs willing to collaborate with independent storytellers. It also required cultivating settings and forums that would promote the free exchange of ideas and promote collaboration. Perhaps most importantly, it required adaptability and a willingness to develop and evolve the program.
What began as a hunch is now a multi-year, multi-million dollar initiative that has supported 13 documentary films; 12 multi-platform impact media projects; 19 convenings workshops and labs; and brought together over 150 of the worlds leading non-fiction storytellers and change-makers addressing the most pressing problems.
Now in its seventh year, the SOC portfolio has grown to include the Oscar-nominated Short Documentary Open Heart; the multi-award winning feature documentary Rafea, Solar Mama, co-directed by Academy Award nominee Jehane Noujaim; and the empowering multi-platform film The Revolutionary Optimists, a project that gave birth to “Map Your World,” a powerful new digital platform that enables young people to map, track, and improve the health of their communities.
As the Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program team prepares to attend the 2014 Skoll World Forum and meet with 12 new Skoll Awarded Social Entrepreneurs (SASE), 3 indigenous Amazonian Chiefs, and countless Forum delegates devoted to solving the world’s social problems, our initiative has more momentum than ever.
We’ll arrive after a productive year that has seen the release of 8 impact driven media projects for SASE organizations as Arzu, Digital Data Divide, Fair Trade USA, Landesa, and Tostan that emerged from SOC collaborations among our Sundance Filmmakers and Media Advisors, our SOC Staff, and SASEs.
Stories of Change has grown well beyond its inception and is now a leader in the emerging field of “Storytelling for Impact.” Like a successful lab experiment that has produced a useful and powerful new compound, SOC is now a potent solution – an agent for change.