Sundance Institute today announced a special collaborative project with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation designed to harness the power of film to create communities and inspire action on issues related to global health, poverty and education. Six short documentary films commissioned by the Institute's Documentary Film Program from award-winning filmmakers Glenn Baker, Teboho Edkins, Mark Monroe, Maren Grainger-Monsen, MD, Nicole Newnham, Jonathan Stack, Ricki Stern, and Annie Sundberg, will become part of a multi-platform communications initiative of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation which plans to share the films online and at speeches and public events around the world. For nearly three decades, Sundance Institute has promoted independent storytelling to inform and inspire across political, social, religious and cultural differences. The Sundance Institute Documentary Fund is the pre-eminent global funder of cinematic documentary films committed to excellence in storytelling around human rights, social justice, civil liberties, the environment and other contemporary issues.
Excerpts from selected films will first premiere September 20, 2010 as part of TEDxChange, a live event convened by Melinda French Gates, to mark the 10th anniversary of the creation of the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals to improve social and economic conditions in the world’s poorest countries. TEDxChange will look at what advancements have been made since the U.N. adopted its Millennium Goals, and what needs to happen to ensure success for the future. Hosted by TED Curator Chris Anderson at the Paley Center for Media in New York and simulcast in Los Angeles, the 90-minute event will stream live on TED.com and www.tedxchange.org at 11a.m. EDT, with simultaneous satellite events planned in over 50 other communities around the world.
"As longtime admirers of the important work that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is undertaking in some of the poorest regions on earth, and the most challenging sectors here in the U.S., Sundance Institute is honored to collaborate on this important initiative," said Keri Putnam, Executive Director, Sundance Institute. "It is a privilege to partner with them in connecting global audiences with stories from the frontlines of global development, health and education," Putnam added.
Shot on location in Bangladesh, India, Haiti, Kenya, the Congo (DRC), Lesotho as well as the United States, the six commissioned films illustrate personal stories of communities leading vaccination drives; empowering the poor with safe and affordable means to manage their money, success at an urban American charter school and an intimate portrait of parenting while HIV positive.
"Documentary storytelling is incredibly effective at highlighting complex realities by humanizing the issues," said Cara Mertes, Director, Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program. "Creating these films with independent filmmakers already exploring the issues that the Gates Foundation addresses has uncovered some extraordinary stories that will help galvanize audiences towards awareness and action."