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in Filmmaking
on Mar 26, 2009

Here’s the second of our guest blogs from Sundance Lab-supported filmmaker Gayle Ferraro, who is blogging from the Skoll World Forum on Social Entrepreneurship.

Day 1

The first day was amazing. Our opening Sundance filmmaker Meet and Greet session, which was more like a panel presentation, went very well; it was a great opportunity to learn about my fellow filmmakers and find out where their game is at. Sundance really picked a seasoned group of wonderful people with Joe Berlinger, who talked about Crude; Robert Kenner, who just premiered Food, Inc.; Greg Barker, who talked about his latest, Sergio; and Jon Alpert, who rounded out the team with an extraordinary collection of his work from the past 20 years, beginning and ending with his video bus headed for Denmark. The conversations we are having within the film team seem to be a continuous dialogue where one film blends into another, and we are “jumping” as the ideas are coming to each of us so quickly. It feels like nothing else exists.

When it was my turn to speak I told the audience that they should pursue whatever publicity and filmmaking ideas that make sense to them because, well, you never know. I used my own experience as an example — having made 16 Decisions in Bangladesh 10 years ago I am now working again with Dr. Muhammad Yunus shooting a feature doc on his work.

After the Meet and Greet, all us filmmakers were surrounded by social entrepreneurs who had incredible projects they wanted to share. This experience was really like being in a candy store — fabulous material for film and willing participants! A group of three men from “Friends of the Earth – Middle East” approached me and announced they had won the top honor at the World Forum for their peacekeeping through water management on the river Jordan. The delegates were from Israel, Jordan, and Palestine and wanted to discuss how this tale could be told in a film. I had an African refugee cell phone compay, the founder of Kiva, children who make music from garbage and numerous others waiting to pitch…. all interesting and exciting. A filmmaker’s dream for sure.

From there we attended the opening forum at the Sheldonian where Jeff Skoll addressed the Forum. He said that we are looking at shifting global power dynamics and discussed the implications of these changes. He was followed by a panel moderated by PBS’s Ray Suarez with Mary Robinson, Daniel Lubetzky (founder of Peaceworks) and Kailash Satyarthi, founder of the successful Global March Against Child Labor, whose work exemplified how people can make the difference. Closing the Opening Plenary was Kenneth Brecher, Executive Director of the Sundance Institute who himself had graduated in the “Middle Ages” from Oxford. His story of the persecuted Russian Poet Anna Akhamatova who received an honorary doctorate from Oxford in 1965 because of her determination and passion to speak freely brought down the house.

I had forgotten how absolutely stunning the colleges are until I went to dinner at Keble College later that evening — the architecture, the vastness and organization of the space, the detail, all of it utterly extraordinary in what it represents…. I need to make time to meander a bit so as not to miss some of the sweetness this land has to offer.

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