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Live from Skoll World Forum 2015

With so much going on at the 2015 Skoll World Forum, it's impossible to participate in everything. Our bloggers are sitting in on many of the exciting sessions at this year's event. Read their concise notes and observations to catch up on important discussions you may have missed.


FORUM2015: The Power of Media for Social Impact

FORUM2015: The Power of Media for Social Impact

April 24, 2015 | 3722 views

THU, APRIL 16, 2015; 10:00 – 11:15

Humans have been telling stories since the beginning of time. Stories to teach, stories to entertain and often stories that do both. If liberation begins in the mind, then today’s storytellers have a central role to play in advancing life on planet Earth.

“Belief” is the theme of the 2015 Skoll World Forum, and there is no more powerful way to establish, ignite or activate belief than through the power of story.

This is the true power of media to change minds, challenge traditions and create movements. The session “The Story of Change: Revolution Begins in the Imagination” was a deep dive into that power and its ability to affect the change that Forum-goers try to achieve.

I couldn’t agree more with Pamela Yates when she spoke about the utility of story to create a deep emotional connection with an audience. It’s that emotional connection that can stir audiences and motivate them to act. Stories also create more neural connections in our brain and help messages stick.

“Seeing is believing” is an apt phrase in thinking about storytelling. Much of the human brain is dedicated to visual processing and storage, so when we use moving pictures to connect audiences with the visual and emotive, we are tapping into something uniquely human.

But this is not exclusive to the developed world or the documentary film world. Examples abound, from the social impact of Charles Dickens to telenovelas in Brazil that lowered birth rates to DLA’s own feature film “Inside Story,” changing how millions of people in sub-Saharan Africa understand and respond to HIV/AIDS.

The internal journeys of discovery for each of the filmmakers are fascinating stories themselves, including lawyer-turned-filmmaker Dawn Porter who showed the trailer of her abortion film that promises to take what we think we know and turn it on its head. Isn’t that one of the great opportunities (and responsibilities) of a good documentary film? Some problems that the development world faces become political and film can support political solutions in a way that NGOs sometimes cannot.

These passionate storytellers in the advocacy and activation space here at Skoll are an inspiration, and I would be thrilled to see narrative storytellers and storytellers from the developing world join their ranks at future Forum events. There is an opportunity to highlight film as a medium for behavior change, in addition to film as a means for advocacy. When film is not just pointing out a problem or motivating a donation, it becomes (in and of itself) the tool for social impact.


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