Sundance Supports New Filmmakers

Los Angeles, CA – Sundance Institute announced today the first five grant recipients of the STORIES OF CHANGE: SOCIALENTREPRENEURSHIP 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.