Guest Post: Elise McCave "The First Annual PUMA Creative Impact Award"

by Ted Hope
August 8, 2011 3:00 AM
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It is hard to find a better example of corporate sponsorship than the PUMA Creative Impact Awards. Not only does it publicize and support an important group of films, but helps support outreach and social change. With the right support, not only can we make better films, but we can change the world. I can hope that more corporations learn from PUMA's example and develop such opportunities; I certainly have a few ideas if they want some help.

I asked Elise McCave who helped put together this important partnership to tell you a bit more about it.

Last week, Channel 4 BRITDOC Foundation Director Beadie Finzi and I travelled from Soho – the London one – way past the equator, beyond even the Tropic of Capricorn to Durban for their International Film Festival. This huge and high-spirited festival is definitely a product of Africa; the film programme featured films and filmmakers from the continent, the panels began in their own sweet time, and the parties saw us dancing together in circles under tents by the beach. Now that’s a festival!

Whilst there, along with marveling at how a South African winter can still be warmer than an English summer, we announced the 5 films selected as Finalists for the first annual PUMA.Creative Impact Award.

The Impact Award is just one part of our partnership with PUMA.Creative (part of PUMA’s CSR division PUMAVision). This long term partnership, which will celebrate its first birthday in October, has seen the establishment of a series of exciting awards providing financial support, creative counsel and industry recognition to international documentary filmmakers, whose creative storytelling highlights social justice, peace or environmental issues.

By the time we trade our babygrows for dungarees and the partnership graduates from infant to toddler we’ll have given away 40 PUMA Creative Catalyst Awards, early-stage development grants, to filmmakers from across the world. We are already beginning to see the fruits of our labour: Dragonslayer, one of the first Catalyst Awardees, is winning award after award in its festival run, having already picked up the best documentary feature and best cinematography gongs at SXSW and best international feature award at Hot Docs.

The most high profile of the awards, however, is the PUMA Creative Impact Award, which has been designed to honour the burgeoning work being done at the intersection of documentary filmmaking and social change. The Award shines a light on the work of all filmmakers slugging it out in this field, but in particular on the remarkable group of 5 filmmaker-turned-campaigners who have been selected to be finalists. And from this group one will ultimately be rewarded with a €50k prize, to be split between the filmmaking and outreach & engagement teams, so that their work can be continued.

So, who is in this impressive group? Well, we really are very proud to announce the 5 Finalists for the Award are…

The Age of Stupid directed by Franny Armstrong and produced by Lizzie Gillett

Burma VJ directed by Anders Østergaard and produced by Lise Lense-Møller

The End of The Line directed by Rupert Murray and produced by Claire Lewis and George Duffield

The Reckoning: The Battle for the International Criminal Court directed by Pamela Yates and produced by Paco de Onís

Trouble The Water directed and produced by Tia Lessin & Carl Deal

These five titles are remarkable, in the first instance, because they are exemplary pieces of filmmaking. Thrilling, engaging and moving works of independent nonfiction filmmaking, they share between them Oscar nominations, awards from a slew of major film festivals – Sundance, IDFA, Mumbai, Berlinale, CPH:DOX, Silverdocs and scores of others – not to mention millions of viewers and plaudits from the critics.

That the filmmakers have, on top of that, not only managed to cover some of the most urgent issues of our times, but then committed themselves and years of their lives to somehow changing the current world order is actually a little overwhelming.

These are visionary filmmakers who have managed, frankly, to pull off the audacious…

The team behind The Age of Stupid launched a global carbon-cutting campaign in 46 countries, with over 100,000 individuals signing up alongside corporations and government departments. They also coordinated over 7,000 local carbon-cutting events in 188 countries for their “Global Day of Doing”.

Burma VJ reached an estimated 30 million viewers, inspiring a new generation of Video Journalists and independent journalists within Burma at the same time.

Meanwhile, The End of the Line team raised £6m to launch a Foundation dedicated to creating a global network of marine reserves, and had a significant impact on the buying policies of supermarket and consumer brands.

The film team behind The Reckoning distributed, for free, screening kits to over 600 NGOs in 78 countries, to raise awareness of the International Criminal Court. The film was also used extensively in education programmes, including a workshop which brought together 700 educators from 70 countries representing a network of over 25,000 high school teachers.

Trouble the Water has been used repeatedly in strategic political campaigning; including raising a 20,000-strong letter campaign to the speaker of the House of Representatives. It also triggered a major lobbying effort by 400 campaigners who travelled to Washington DC for training, advocacy and action.

And these are tip-of-the-iceberg highlights. Phewf.

The arrival of the PUMA Creative Impact Award is well-timed. With social change work around documentary film on the increase, and yet with the medium’s full potential still largely untapped, an award such as this – which calls attention to the most ambitious and successful projects in the field – acts as a very public benchmark for what can be achieved. These projects have raised the bar for the better and are the very best advert for the power of film to inspire people to act.

From our patch of London, we’re committed not just to applauding the films and filmmakers -- we also want to evaluate and measure the effect they have. We’ve now produced two full evaluation reports on The End of the Line and An Inconvenient Truth, with the pitter-patter of mini-case studies on the way. The report on An Inconvenient Truth set out to measure the social return on investment created in the UK by the blockbuster climate change film as an example of an important social justice film whose true value has never been measured. If you’d like to know more head to britdoc.org/evaluation.

For the coming few months, however, we will have to eschew the temptation to dance in circles at tropical film festivals and publish groundbreaking evaluation reports – for we have a winner to find, and a spangly Gala to throw…

The winner of the inaugural PUMA.Creative Impact Award will be announced at our Gala on October 11th in Mayfair, London, but we salute them all for the impact they have already had.

The Age of Stupid (2009)
Director: Franny Armstrong
Producer: Lizzie Gillett

The Age of Stupid stars Oscar-nominated Pete Postlethwaite as a man living alone in the devastated world of 2055, watching “archive” footage of our time now and asking… Why didn’t we stop climate change when we had the chance?

Burma VJ (2008)
Director: Anders Østergaard
Producer: Lise Lense-Møller

Armed with small handycams, undercover video journalists in Burma keep up the flow of news from their closed country despite risking torture and life in jail. Their material is smuggled out of Burma and broadcast back via satellite.

The End of the Line (2009)
Director: Rupert Murray
Producers: Claire Lewis & George Duffield

The End of the Line, is the world’s first major feature documentary about the devastating impact that overfishing has had – and is having – on our oceans. The film provides a dramatic expose of those in power who are taking advantage of the seas with catastrophic consequences on the world’s fish supply.

The Reckoning: The Battle for the International Criminal Court (2009)
Director: Pamela Yates
Producer: Paco de Onís

A David and Goliath battle of titanic proportions unfolds as International Criminal Court Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo faces down warlords, genocidal dictators, and world superpowers in his struggle to tame the Wild West of global conflict zones and bring perpetrators of crimes against humanity to justice.

Trouble the Water (2008)
Director-Producers: Tia Lessin & Carl Deal

An aspiring rap artist, trapped in New Orleans by deadly floodwaters, survives the disaster and seizes a chance for a new beginning. Celebrating community resilience in the face of massive government failures, Trouble the Water raises searing questions about race and class in America.


Related Links

BRITDOC -- britdoc.org
PUMA.Creative Impact Award -- britdoc.org/impactaward
Evaluation pages -- britdoc.org/evaluation

The Age of Stupid -- www.spannerfilms.net/films/ageofstupid
Burma VJ -- burmavjmovie.com
The End of The Line -- endoftheline.com
The Reckoning: The Battle for the International Criminal Court -- skylightpictures.com/films/the_reckoning
Trouble The Water -- www.troublethewaterfilm.com


Monica Rorvick (DIFF), Isabel Arrate (IDFA), Owen Martin (PUMA.Creative) and Elise McCave (C4 BRITDOC Foundation)

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