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Audience Engagement; Impact; Social Documentary

Breaking Down the Impact of "Blackfish"

BlackfishIn January 2013, the documentary "Blackfish" premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, telling the story “about Tilikum, a performing killer whale that killed several people while in captivity,” according to the official film synopsis. Nearly two years later, the film’s impact continues to ripple out.

According to a December 2014 Washington Post story, the stock price of Tilikum’s home park, SeaWorld, has declined by 60 percent since the film’s July 2013 theatrical premiere. A California state lawmaker proposed legislation in April 2014 that would ban California aquatic parks from featuring orcas in performances, although the proposed law is now on hold pending further study. And, in June 2014, inspired by "Blackfish," the U.S. House of Representatives expressed official interest in studying the impact of captivity on orcas and other marine animals. Read more...

Forming Partnerships to Build Audience

The Mama SherpasIn light of Facebook’s breastfeeding censoring scandal comes a documentary aiming to normalize the birthing process--"The Mama Sherpas." This documentary, by Brigid Maher, producer/director and professor in American University's School of Communication, investigates America’s rising cesarean birth rate and the midwives helping solve this obstetric crisis.

The film shows the outstanding work nurse-midwives do in providing optimal maternal-child health care. Yet, the challenge for Maher, like many filmmakers, comes in actually convincing audience’s to alter their previous attitudes about the role of midwives in modern society.   Read more...

Class Dismissed: Engaging Dropouts and Communities on Public Media

American GraduateWhen the Corporation for Public Broadcasting threw down the American Graduate challenge, Catherine Stifter and friends in California’s Central Valley took it on, and learned 5 key lessons in how to produce engaging public media. Read more...

Pull Focus Interview with Dawn Porter

Dawn Porter

As part of the 2013 Human Rights Film Series, filmmaker Dawn Porter recently visited the Center to share the stories behind her latest documentary project "Gideon's Army." Read more...

Robert West: Pioneer in Social Documentary

Robert WestRobert West, the co-founder with Judith Helfand of Working Films, who died June 6 of brain cancer, was a pioneer of activist engagement strategies. He never was content with goals of information and education; he wanted to see what difference that information and education could make in the world. Read more...