This is the tenth year of Media That Matters, a curatorial project of the world's best short film on social issues, available online, on DVD, in theaters and elsewhere worldwide. This year's selection celebrates twelve jury-selected shorts, each less than twelve minutes, tackling a broad range of social issues with humor, humanity, and honesty.
In this era of YouTube, it is difficult to pick out great pieces of media. There are just so many options. Friends' recommendations help but as an activist or an educator, it is hard to see which short films speak specifically to the issues you grapple with on a day-to-day basis. Media That Matters is about curation. It is about looking at issues that are happening in this world and drawing a sharp and narrow spotlight on them. Once you know, you cannot forget. Then you are given ways to take action. Sign a petition, learn more, whatever works best for you.
Short films have the power to reach larger audiences for many reasons. One simple reason is that they are a lesser commitment. It is hard to turn down a film that is under twelve minutes, even for a person with the shortest attention span. The short form allows the viewer to learn about an issue in a pretty intensive way because there is no real room for exposition. The mediamaker has to say what they need to say -- fast. And when the piece is powerful, the viewer is left with an indelible impression.
One powerful example of media that matters is the piece, A Girl Like Me which went viral in 2005. In the piece, the filmmaker, Kiri Davis, recreates Dr. Kenneth Clark's 1940s doll experiment that studied the psychological effects of segregation on black children. In Clark's test, children were given a black doll and a white doll, and then asked which one they thought was better. Overwhelmingly, they chose the white doll. This short piece applies this same experiment and the outcome is exactly the same. A Girl Like Me became a phenomenon on race consciousness in the 21st century for millions of people. Kiri was interviewed on broadcast outlets everywhere from Oprah to CNN. More importantly, she created a much needed dialogue. The topic of color consciousness might seem dated to our post race generation but the phenomenon created around the film indicates that this is a topic still on people's minds.
After a decade of short films and big issues, Media That Matters continues to inspire and impact people across the globe. The tenth annual collection will feature twelve new films--each less than twelve minutes--that will inspire audiences to screen, act, impact. Starting June 2, 2010, multiple cities will host premieres of the new Media That Matters selection, which adds 12 great films to the 144 winners from previous years. New York City is first with the world premiere on Wednesday, June 2nd at 7pm at SVA Theatre on 23rd Street. Following the New York premiere, all the 12 new Media That Matters films will be available online in their entirety.
The winner of the 2010 Jury Award is Julie Winokur's Denied, a powerful film about a woman who is denied health care. Sara Hopman's Day Job draws attention to day workers in the United States and the deep challenges they face. From the UK, Joel Engardio & Ateqah Khaki's Justice Denied: Voices from Guantanamo recounts the story of innocent people who were imprisoned
Which of these films will cause a tidal wave of action? We'll have to wait and see.