BY PAMELA JO BOWMAN, PARK CITY, USA — On Monday, we attended the HOW “MOVIES THAT MATTER” CAN MATTER Panel Discussion at the Prospector Lodge. It was worth attending the festival for this panel alone! The panel consisted of men and women who were involved in this year’s festival social change films. As is typical at Sundance, the event began late and a lot of time was spent reviewing each panelist and his or her contributions to filmmaking.
Members of the panel included filmmakers Judith Helfand (EVERYTHING’S COOL and previously, BLUE VINYL), Sean Fine (WAR/DANCE), Rory Kennedy (GHOSTS OF ABU GHRAIB), Eric Schlosser (author of FAST FOOD NATION), Gayle Smith (Center for American Progress), Brian Steidle (Marine Captain and subject of THE DEVIL CAME ON HORSEBACK), and Diane Weyermann (Participant Productions). They presented clips of their films and discussed their motivations for doing good in the world with cinema as their tool.
Each panelist expressed their passion and belief in their individual films. Evidence exists that their films have been a catalyst for change. Each panelist was able to provide examples of how their films had created change in the world. Very powerful. The panelists shared how they unite with grass roots and activist groups that can use films as part of their efforts. Gayle Smith (the Center for American Progress) talked about giving political power to one’s filmmaking. Like the HISTORY IS MADE Panel Discussion, this panel deepened my commitment to filmmaking. It restored my faith that film can be powerful and can create meaningful dialogue and concrete change globally. When there is conversation there is communication. When there is communication there is understanding. When there is understanding, there is a change of heart and a change in behavior.