Harvard Kennedy School Launches Social Change Film Festival

Contact: Loren Gary
Phone: (617) 495-4663
Date: April 12, 2010

Cambridge, MA— Two exceptional documentaries from this year’s Sundance Film Festival will have an exclusive screening on April 16th and 17th at the inaugural Gleitsman Social Change Film Forumat the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.
Sponsored by Harvard Kennedy School’s (HKS) Center for Public Leadership, the film festival which takes place on the afternoon of Friday, April 16th and all-day Saturday, April 17th at Harvard’s Northwest Building, will bring top filmmakers together with leading public policy experts to explore how films can change societies. HKS Professors Graham Allison, director of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, and David R. Gergen, director of the Center for Public Leadership, will add their perspectives to the discussion.
The first film screened at the forum will be Participant Media’s Countdown to Zero,produced by Lawrence Bender, a three-time Academy Award nominee who produced Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth, Inglourious Basterds, Pulp Fiction,and Good Will Hunting.This documentary addresses the escalating global nuclear arms crisis and makes a case for a world without nuclear weapons. Current events—President Obama signing a nuclear agreement with Russia and convening a summit conference this week of 47 leaders—have catapulted Countdown to Zeroto the forefront of the international diplomatic community’s attention. Former CIA covert operations officer Valerie Plame Wilson, a nuclear arms trade expert, will participate in the panel discussion that follows the screening of this film.
The second documentary, A Small Act,an HBO Documentary directed by Jennifer Arnold, chronicles how the life of a young boy from a small Kenyan village was transformed when an anonymous Swedish woman sponsored his primary and secondary education. As a narrative explanation of the butterfly effect that can occur when one act of kindness leads to another and then another, in a widening circle of impact, the film has broad relevance to social enterprises and charitable organizations everywhere. It will premiere on HBO July 12.
Other panelists at the film festival will include two-time Academy Award–winner and Stanford Graduate School of Business lecturerBill Guttentag,who won Oscars for Twin Towers,a 2003 documentary about 9/11, and You Don’t Have to Die,a 1988 documentary that tells the story of one boy’s battle against cancer; Diane Weyermann,executive producer of Countdown to Zero;Chris Mburu,United Nations Human Rights Officer; and Tiffany Shlain,founder of the Webby Awards.
“The rising generation of leaders has seized upon the power of film to inspire people, outrage them, and—perhaps most important—spur them to action,” said Gergen, who will moderate one of the discussions during the event. “Our hope is that these two days of screenings and panel discussions will have a lively and inspiring effect—with current film industry leaders having an opportunity to influence future change agents, and with both groups discovering new possibilities.”
About the Gleitsman Program in Leadership for Social Change
The film forum is just one of many learning opportunities made possible by a $20 million endowment gift to CPL from the estate of television executive Alan L. Gleitsman. Others include scholarship support for Gleitsman Leadership Fellows at Harvard Kennedy School, a visiting practitioner program that brings social innovators to campus to teach, and the Gleitsman Citizen Activist and International Activist awards program, which provides a $125,000 prize and enables thoughtful engagement between the honoree and the greater Harvard community.
About the Center for Public Leadership
Established through a generous gift from the Wexner Foundation, the Center for Public Leadership is celebrating its tenth anniversary of advancing the frontiers of knowledge about leadership through research and teaching, and deepening the pool of leaders for the common good through cocurricular activities that include skill-building workshops, fellowships, and programming in leadership for social change


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