2009 Envision Program

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Opening Remarks

9:00 a.m.

Michelle Byrd, Executive Director, IFP

Kiyo Akasaka, Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon

Screening: Pray the Devil Back to Hell

2:30 p.m.

A Film by Gini Reticker and Abigail Disney (USA 2008)

Best Documentary Feature. 2008 Tribeca Film Festival

The extraordinary story of a small band of Liberian women who came together in the midst of a bloody civil war, took on the violent warlords and corrupt Charles Taylor regime, and won a long-awaited peace for their shattered country in 2003.

Performance by Sarah Jones

1:45 p.m.

Sarah Jones is a Tony Award winning playwright and performer. Her multi-character solo show, "Bridge & Tunnel" was originally produced off Broadway by Oscar winner Meryl Streep, and went on to become a critically acclaimed, long-running hit on Broadway. Sarah recently became the first UNICEF Spokesperson on Violence Against Children. In this capacity, Sarah is currently traveling and performing a piece developed specifically for UNICEF which is based on the Secretary General's report on violence against children.

Seeing Africa Through African Eyes

11:45 a.m.

There are hundreds of documentaries produced each year about Africa. What nearly all have in common is that they are rarely made by Africans living in Africa. How and where are the new voices of African leadership being nurtured and given voice to their issues on an international scale? Is there a possibility for funders working in tandem with NGOs to create opportunities for African filmmakers to tell the world their own stories of development in their countries?

Speakers:Mette Hoffmann Meyer, Head of Documentaries and Co-productions, DRTV; Rachel Mayanja, UN Special Advisor on Gender Issues; Ami Boghani, VP Mirabai Films and Program Coordinator, Maisha Film Labs (Uganda), Debra Zimmerman, Executive Director, Women Make Movies 

Moderator: Sean Jacobs, Author, Assistant Professor, The New School Graduate Program in International Affairs

Screening: Rough Aunties

9:45 a.m.

A Film by Kim Longinotto (UK 2008)

World Cinema Jury Prize for Documentary, 2009 Sundance Film Festival

Jackie, Mildred, Eureka, Sdudla, and Thuli are the women behind Bobbi Bear, a nonprofit organization based in Durban, South Africa, that counsels sexually abused children and works to bring their abusers to justice. Born out of recognition of cultural stigmas that discourage reporting abuse and inadequate methods of communicating with young victims, Bobbi Bear developed a method of letting children use teddy bears to explain their abuse. Since 1992, the multiracial staff has become the fearless and powerful voice for those victims who would otherwise continue to live in fear, powerless against their oppressors and ignored by the legal system. 

Keynote Address

9:15 a.m.

Christy Turlington Burns, CARE Advocate for Maternal Health

A Case Study on Envisioning The Impact of Prey the Devil Back to Hell

3:45 p.m.

When Abigail Disney first went to Liberia in 2006, about three months after Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf had been inaugurated as Liberia’s president, she heard the story of Liberian women peacekeepers. In embarking on a journey of identifying a filmmaking collaborator, she also began laying the foundation for creating a film which could:

"speak to women in communities where there is armed conflict; expose the “developed” world’s potential donors to the issues in the film; and influence decision-makers and policy-makers who can do something at a governmental level about the importance of women in peacekeeping operations."

The success of this film can be broken down and applied to a variety of films. How are campaigns conceptualized? How are resources maximized? How can outreach campaigns work effectively? And for filmmakers who are not interested in assuming the responsibility for remaining married to the issues and subjects of their films, are there "bridge" networks which can assume these role.

Abigail Disney, producer of Pray the Devil Back to Hell and Diana Barrett, Founder and President of The Fledgling Fund.

Friday, May 15, 2009

A Conversation with Filmmaker Jonathan Demme

9:00 a.m.

Jonathan Demme will be joined in conversation about his work in Haiti by Eric Falt, Director, Outreach Division, Department of Public Information, United Nations.

Establishing the Safety Net for Girls in Traditional Societies

11:45 a.m.

In countries already taxed by strained infrastructures to support basic services concerning health, education, and environmental issues, the unique needs of girls can sometimes pose an additional challenge. Often lacking equal access to society and frequently needing an advocate to fight on their behalf, millions of girls growing up in traditionally religious societies are coming of age in a world that is shrinking. What are the models of intervention and support being created and replicated worldwide and how are the voices of these girls finding an audience at home and worldwide?

Speakers: Dory Halati, Trustee, Omid Foundation, USA; Shireen Zaman, Director Middle East and North Africa, Vital Voices Global Partnership

The Issue is Money

1:45 p.m.

In relation to creativity, documentary filmmakers are frequently advised to remember that the issue itself is not the film. However the reality is that documentaries are funded primarily because of their subject matter - by foundation or corporatemandate, through philanthropic giving serving the social good, for outreach potential by like-minded organizations, and even commercial potential around timely issues.

What is important to those entities and individuals financing issue-driven work in 2009? Does the work need to speak to a global audience or a particular one? Are there untapped funding sources in addressing global issues through media?

Speakers: Nina Chaudry, Senior Producer, Wide Angle; Philipp Engelhorn, Founder & Executive Director, Cinereach; Patricia Finneran, Senior Consultant, Sundance Documentary Film Program; Judith Helfand, filmmaker, Co-Founder, Chicken & Egg Pictures; Emily Verellen, Senior Program Officer, The Fledgling Fund Moderator: Annie Sundberg, filmmaker, The Devil Came on Horseback

Screening: The Glass House

9:45 a.m.

A Film by Hamid Rahmanian and Melissa Hibbard (USA/Iran 2008)

Premiered at the 2008 International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam.

The Glass House skillfully examines the mostly hidden lives of young women, teetering on the fringes of Iranian society in modern Tehran. Marginalized by their families, these women have found a saving grace in a day center formed by an Iranian expatriate. Marjaneh Halati founded Omid e Mehr Center to give young women a voice, thus empowering them with the life skills they need to succeed on their own.


Directors Guild Theater
110 West 57th Street
New York, NY