By Sophie Ewh
I fully realized the power of film the first time I watched Blackfish. I was just a baby Floridian who had grown up going to Seaworld every week, spending hours sitting at the tank watching Tilikum sulk in the corner of the tank. I loved it because my family loved it, and because they gave me pudding in a little whale cup. To watch Blackfish would have been to sin in my family. But it was exactly that rush of taboo-infused adrenaline that pushed me to finally watch it. I made sure that my mom was at work, closed all the blinds, and logged onto a secret Netflix account. My heart was pounding when I first pressed play and I told myself that I would only watch the first ten minutes of it. But as the last scene of the documentary came to a close, I was a new woman. The film moved me to take action- I made my friends watch the it ad nauseum and I refused to back to that place. Plus Seaworld agreed to stop trainer-whale physical interaction- Blackfish made real change in the real world, and every documentary can do the same.
Every documentary has the opportunity to inspire creation and progress through the hearts and minds of their audience. Documentaries have the power to change our opinion, open our eyes, and make us more empathetic human beings. They give us what we as a species has been searching for since Aristotle’s Poetics- the opportunity to see the world through another pair of eyes, to walk a mile in another pair of shoes. And it is our job as part of the human collective to tell the stories that influence us. To tell the stories of the past that empower the present and enlighten the future.
It is exactly that assertion which makes me believe that you must attend “Monkey Business- A Master Class in How to Make and Fund a Hit Doc” on Friday, December 1st at 721 Broadway Room 006. The Master Class will be led by the creators of Monkey Business: The Adventures of Curious George’s Creators, which is a documentary that follows the lives of the Reys, the creators of the quizzical monkey, through their trials and tribulations as two immigrant refugees in search of the American Dream. In the words of the director, Ema Ryan Yamazaki, “At a pertinent time to highlight the work of two Americans who were once refugees and immigrants, we must turn to the Reys’ extraordinary story as an example of a triumph in partnership, creativity, and above all, resilience.” The class will cover how the project found success, from research to distribution. It will help you build a platform from which you can create real change. Find what it is you care about, and share it with the world- consider the power of a compelling story in the hands of the people.