Sundance and "Filmanthropy"

Ted Leonsis.jpg Philanthromedia has been at the Sundance Film Festival exploring the intersection between documentary film, social change and philanthropy. The story I pursued to Park City, Utah is whether donors interested in leveraged change strategies should consider investments in film. The question comes to fore this year following the indisputable impact of an "An Inconvenient Truth" and moves by mega-donors to transcend for-profit/non-profit boundaries in search of greener and greater impact.

I conducted several great interviews with directors, donors and even the actor, Kevin Bacon (all of whom will be coming soon to a videocast near you.) But the most cogent affirmation that "there is a there there" came from major, D.C. donor and business titan, Ted Leonsis (check out his bio in Wikipedia or his blog, Ted's Take.) Ted was at the Festival where Nanking, the film he bankrolled, was premiered to much acclaim. It tells the story of a "forgotten Holocaust," two words Ted told me, should never be in the same sentence.

Ted has a pretty exciting name for what he and others I met at Sundance are doing: "filmanthropy."

Jeff Skoll has pioneered this approach with his company, Participant Productions. Participant's previous winners include not only Inconvenient Truth but, Good Night and Good Luck, and Syriana. (Participant's newest featured, Chicago 10, premiered here Friday night.)

With Nanking, Ted has not only joined Jeff; he has named a movement. But two kingpins doth not a trend make. Who else is in their ranks? Is this an exclusive club only those willing to commit millions, can join? Are there market opportunities to systematically promote and support such enagement? Inquiring minds want to know...

More from Sundance tomorrow.

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Susan Herr

Posted at 7:51 AM, Jan 23, 2007 in Arts and Culture | Cross-Sectoral Strategies | High Net Worth Donors | Philanthropic Strategy | Permalink | Comment