Social Entrepreneurship in Focus Through Documentary

2009 Convenings

2009 Convenings

Six Stories of Change supported convenings were held in 2009, unfolding over the year at these venues:

  • Sundance Film Festival
  • The Skoll World Forum, Oxford
  • The Sundance Institute Creative Producing Summit
  • Good Pitch Forums (Toronto, Washington DC, New York City)

Three official SOC convenings were joined by a 'fourth convening,' which took the form of SOC films pitching at the new Good Pitch Forum in Toronto, Washington DC and New York City. Over 22 filmmakers, social entrepreneurs and film subjects participated in various convening events, not including informal exchanges and in-depth discussions at the Skoll World Forum. At these convenings, Sundance staff brought together filmmakers with Skoll supported social entrepreneurs for networking events, special presentations and high-level panel discussions relevant to their work. Beyond the filmmakers, eight social entrepreneurs were asked to attend Sundance Institute-based activities, at the Sundance Film Festival and the Creative Producing Summit.

January 21 – 24, 2009 - Sundance Film Festival
Park City, Utah 

The SFF 09 Stories of Change convening brought together five internationally known social entrepreneurs to interact with documentary filmmakers at the Sundance Film Festival. They included:

Andrea and Barry Coleman For over 15 years, they have built Riders for Health into an organization with global reach that works to ensure all health workers have reliable transportation to reach areas which are often inaccessible.

John and Susan Marks John Marks is President and founder of Search for Common Ground, an international conflict prevention NGO headquartered in Washington and Brussels, with offices in 18 countries. He also founded and heads Common Ground Productions, which produces radio and television programming around the world to help prevent and transform conflict. He is a best-selling, award-winning author and received the Skoll Fellowship for Social Entrepreneurship in 2006. Susan Collin Marks is Senior Vice President at Search for Common Ground.

Patrick Reed has collaborated with Peter Raymont on a number of award-winning productions, including Shakes Hands With the Devil: The Journey of Romeo Dallaire. He recently directed Tsepong: A Clinic Called Hope about doctors fighting the HIV/AIDS pandemic in Lesotho, Africa.

Dorothy Stoneman is founder and president of YouthBuild USA, the national intermediary and support center for 226 YouthBuild programs nationwide. The program supports low-income youth who build housing for homeless and low-income people while they earn their own GED or diploma. Filmmaker

Annie Sundberg, filmmaker, is creating a documentary which follows a year in the life of several young people as they work to turn their lives around at the YouthBuild USA affiliate in Philadelphia, PA.

Leading international documentary filmmakers and documentary professionals who participated in presentations, dinners and discussions included Sam Pollard, Gillian Armstrong, Patrick Creadon, Hubert Sauper, Tia Lessin, Carl Deal, Robert Stone and Howard Zinn.

Below is a sample of the SFF 09 Convening schedule activities:

  • Private meetings with industry as well as a heavily attended press reception for the SOC funding announcement.
  • Dinner events were organized each night for networking purposes, which were followed by film premieres of Crude (directed by Joe Berlinger), Burma VJ (directed by Anders Ostergaard), The Reckoning (directed by Pamela Yates), Tibet in Song (directed by Ngawang Choephel) and the Closing Night film, Earth Days by director Robert Stone.

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

The People Speak: Voices of A People’s History of the United States at the Sundance ASCAP Music Café
Voices of A People’s History of the United States (the basis of the forthcoming documentary The People Speak) brings to light little known voices from U.S. History. The event will feature live readings and music performances by a host of prominent artists.

Now or Never Panel
World leaders on the environment, women’s status, poverty, and other key issues, which urgently need to be addressed convene to discuss we are making, and the one we could make. Moderated by Cara Mertes (Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program) with panelists Denis Hayes (Bullitt Foundation), Kavita Ramdas (Global Fund for Women), Van Jones (Green For All) and Charles Clover (author, The End of the Line).

March 25-27, 2009 - Skoll World Forum
Said Business School, University of Oxford 

The fifth convening took place at the Skoll World Forum in Oxford, England. That forum facilitated discussion, debate and critical questioning around the theme of Social Entrepreneurship: Shifting Power Dynamics.

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

Jon Alpert, founder of Downtown Community TV in NYC and an award winning independent journalist, educator and activist who has gained exclusive access to political leaders like Fidel Castro among others.

Greg Barker is a former war correspondent turned award-winning feature documentary filmmaker. His latest film, Sergio, premiered at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival.

Gayle Ferraro has been independently producing feature documentaries about global human rights violations since receiving her Masters in Public Administration from Harvard and International Human Rights Law from Oxford. She is the director of the Stories of Change To Catch a Dollar: Muhammad Yunus Banks on America.

Robert Kenner recently directed one of the highest grossing documentaries of 2009, Food Inc. His prior films have received Peabodys, Emmys, Cable Ace and Genesis Awards.

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, Sundance DFP Director Mertes moderated a panel “Winning Hearts and Minds” which featured filmmaker Greg Barker, Susan Collin Marks (Search for Common Ground), and Amitabha Sadangi (IDE) for a standing room only discussion on the modes of storytelling that cross orders and traditions.

At the Forum, a second round of SOC film projects were announced by Cara Mertes as part of a Press Announcement on Thursday, March 26th. SOC film director Gayle Ferraro, whose documentary on Muhammud Yunus and Grameen America will be the first film completed in the series, joined Mertes to talk about the projects.

July 24-26, 2009 - Sundance Creative Producing Summit
Sundance Resort, Utah

The final official convening of 2009 featured distinguished filmmakers and the international social entrepreneurs whose organizations could inspire documentary projects. This inaugural edition of the Creative Producing Summit offered entrepreneurs and filmmakers the opportunity to engage with leading independent producers, sales agents and distributors and more during small group sessions, one-on-one meetings and large panel discussions. The opening dinner brought together panelists with participants for an intimate dinner on-site.

Kirsten Johnson is currently shooting a film about the work of Skoll entrepreneur Sakena Yacoobi (who attended the Convening at the Summit in 2008). Kirsten is a sought after documentary cinematographer, documentary director and is currently developing her first feature film.

Martin Burt is founder and CEO of Fundacion Paraguaya, an NGO devoted to the promotion of entrepreneurship among the world's poor. He is also one of the original participants in the Stories of Change workshop at the 2005 Independent Producers Conference.

Filmmaker Carl Byker is working on a documentary highlighting the work of Fundacion Paraguaya as well an Emmy, Peabody and Dupont award winner for nonfiction series. His latest film was included in the New Heroes series for PBS and the Skoll Foundation.

Daniel Lubetsky is the founder of Peaceworks Inc., OneVoice movement and CEO of the KIND bar company. He is an entrepreneur interested in fostering sustainable models that also work to bring people together around peace and conflict issues in the Middle East.

The series of panel discussion and interactions at the convening underscored the connections between filmmakers and social entrepreneurs. The two and one half day conference included the following panels and events:

State of the Union
Opening discussion of trends in distribution and financing between Liesl Copland (Endeavor), Micah Green (CAA), Tia Lessin (Director, Trouble the Water), Winnie Lau (Fortissimo Film Sales), Jonathan Sehring (IFC), Mary Jane Skalski (producer) and moderator John Cooper (Sundance Film Festival).

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

Case Study: Trouble the Water
Led by the films directors Tia Lessin and Carl Deal covered both the challenges and creative solutions found during the development and production of their Academy Award nominated film.

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