In the recent MovieMaker magazine (issue April 2014), Cinema Libre Studio’s Beth Portello wrote a feature article about the impact of social issue films; what is impact, how to measure it and how to create it.

Cinema Libre Studio is a distribution company that specializes in documentary film with a catalog of over 150 social issue titles that include movies about social justice, environmental issues, human rights, economic injustice and other progressive concerns. Many would be considered activism movies or agenda films.

THE ACTIVISM IN FILM ISSUE – Can Your Movie Change the World?

The issue includes an inspiring introduction by Oliver Stone, whose recent Untold History of the United States aired on Showtime, with a body of work that has inspired so many media makers , including SOUTH OF THE BORDER and LOOKING FOR FIDEL, two documentary films that we distribute which can be found online.

It also includes an interview with Errol Morris.

With Help from the Documentary Community

The article focuses primarily on the impact of social issue documentaries–films with an agenda–and was written the help of submissions from documentarians from the Doculink community which included:  Sue Wilson ( writer, producer, and director of Broadcast Blues, an award-winning documentary film about how our broadcast media system became broken and what we can do about it); Scott Ryan, (director and producer of Manifesto, a documentary series about creating change in the lives of everyday people through their own personal manifestos); Robert Bahar (producer and writer of Made in L.A., an Emmy award-winning feature documentary that follows three Latina immigrants working in Los Angeles garment sweatshops as they embark on a three-year odyssey to win basic labor protections from a major clothing retailer); Ines Sommer (director, producer, and cinematographer of Beneath the Blindfold, a documentary about four torture survivors and their attempts to rebuild their lives) and Holly Mosher (hollymosher.com, producer of Hummingbird, Vanishing of the Bees, Free For All, and most recently Pay 2 Play, a film about pay-to-play politics in the United States.)

Read their round table discussion.

Here’s a sneak preview of the article:

“You want to change the world.  You have a great idea for a documentary that will rip apart shrouds of socio-political injustice, uphold the cold, hard truth of the way the world works, and compel its citizens to stand up, go out and do something about it.

Whether an investigation into institutional malfeasance such as Kirby Dick’s The Invisible War (2012) or an advocacy film such as Josh Fox’s Gasland (2010), social issue films are often credited for the overthrowing of the countless social injustices. They are the first example people look to when they think about the power of art to enact change, because unlike so many other aspects of our culture, they are conceived in compassion, rage, and the truest parts of the human soul. In a nation that teaches us from childhood that loud speech is our duty in the face of injustice, our moviemaking society operates under this unwavering faith.”


The full article is now available for free through Moviemaker’s website. CLICK HERE to read more on Social Issue Films!

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