This Is What Democracy Looks Like

SAT, NOV 2, 2019 (1:05:50)

Media’s role in the democratic process is more essential and influential than ever—from viral think pieces, to films as a key tool in moving policy initiatives, and live streamed town hall debates. How filmmakers, storytellers, and journalists engage to enlighten and inform is vital in a participatory media culture where communications are shared, commented, memed, and weaponized for good and bad intentions.

Our accelerated media paradigm has irrevocably changed the political landscape and is influencing voters on divisive and complicated issues. Is it helping, or hurting, the cause of democracy and social good? Are the values of a democratic society being advanced, allowing new voices to emerge, and bringing us together–or are we sliding into a protracted age of divisive rhetoric and inaction driven by micro-targeted technology undermining the possibilities of citizen participation?

Image: Mass Production Coalition &

+ BIO: Jodi Rave Spotted Bear

Jodi Rave Spotted Bear is a journalist and media entrepreneur. She’s now a MacDowell Colony fellow working on a creative non-fiction book about freedom of information, the oil industry and the cultural impact on the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation. Jodi has won awards from mainstream, military, university and Native press associations during nearly 15 years of reporting for daily newspapers. She spent more than a decade reporting on American Indian issues before returning to the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation in North Dakota where she founded the Indigenous Media Freedom Alliance, a nonprofit media organization that aims to strengthen independent media in Native communities.

She’s an advisory board member for the Red Press Initiative of the Native American Journalists Association, a groundbreaking survey on press freedom in Indian Country. In support of independent media, the Indigenous Media Freedom Alliance recently launched a video news pilot the organizations online news site at Jodi is a Harvard Nieman Fellow and a Peter Jennings Project for Journalists and the Constitution fellow.

+ BIO: T. Woody Richman

T. Woody Richman was the editor, co-writer and co-producer of the Academy Award-nominated and critically acclaimed How to Survive a Plague. He co-produced and edited the Academy Award-nominated and Sundance Grand Jury Prize-winning documentary, Trouble the Water. A long time collaborator of Michael Moore, Woody edited Where to Invade Next, Capitalism a Love Story, Fahrenheit 9/11, winner of the Palme d’Or, and was associate editor of Academy Award-winning Bowling for Columbine.

Woody has cut several other independent narrative features, including Sooni Taraporevala’s Little Zizou and Destination Unknown. Woody co-produced and edited Congolese director Selé M’Poko’s award winning debut comedy feature, John of God the Movie. He also produced Gloria Carrión Fonseca’s Nicaraguan documentary, Heredera del Viento, premiering at IDFA this year. Woody began his career working as an assistant editor in the cutting rooms of Nick Gomez, Spike Lee and Oliver Stone.

+ BIO: Hedrick Smith

Hedrick Smith, a Pulitzer Prize-winning former New York Times reporter and editor and Emmy award-winning producer/correspondent, has established himself over the past 50 years as one of America’s premier journalists. His current best-seller, Who Stole the American Dream? is a stunning account of how we have become Two Americas. As a sequel, Mr. Smith has created, an informational website on reform issues and strategies.

In 26 years with The New York Times, Smith served in Saigon, Cairo, Paris, the American South and as bureau chief in Moscow and Washington. In 1971, he was a member of the Pulitzer Prize-winning team for the Pentagon Papers series and in 1974, he won the Pulitzer Prize for international reporting from Russia and Eastern Europe.

His subsequent book, The Russians, was a No.1 American best-seller translated into 16 languages. Smith’s next book, The Power Game: How Washington Works, was bedside reading for President Clinton. Many members of Congress used it as a political bible. He has written three other best-sellers.

For PBS, Hedrick Smith has created 26 prime-time specials and mini-series since 1989 on such varied topics as “Inside the Terror Network,” “Is Wal-Mart Good for America?” “The Wall Street Fix,” “Inside Gorbachev’s USSR,” “Can You Afford to Retire?” and “Rediscovering Dave Brubeck.” He has won television’s top awards including two Emmys, two national public service awards from sigma Delta Chi, and two Dupont-Columbia Gold batons for the best public affairs programs on U.S. television in 1991 and in 2002.

+ BIO: Lise Balk King

Lise Balk King is a documentary filmmaker who also serves as a consultant in media and communications strategy. She specializes in the application of media tools for public policy, education, and social change. She co-produced HBO Documentary Film’s HEROIN: CAPE COD, USA (2015), and was also the film’s social impact producer. She next served as a social impact producer for three more HBO documentary Films – RISKY DRINKING (2016), WARNING: THIS DRUG MAY KILL YOU (2017), and 32 PILLS: MY SISTER’S SUICIDE (2018). King also takes select independent clients on projects that have critical potential for social change and public policy impact. These issues-focused films have included the documentary THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE (2015), which highlights the need for improvement in veterans’ mental health care, LONG TIME COMING: A 1955 BASEBALL STORY (2018), about racism and healing cultural rifts through the story of an early integrated Little League Baseball championship game, HILLBILLY (2018), which explores stereotypes of rural whites from the Appalachian region of the U.S., and most recently, EAT UP (2019), highlighting the systemic challenges of providing healthy meals to children in US public schools.

King is currently a producer and assistant DP on a film about the crisis surrounding the diminishing right whale population, and is also producing a doc about the Provincetown SWIM FOR LIFE. King has a master’s in public administration from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, where she also served three years as a fellow at the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy. She studied documentary filmmaking at Harvard Visual and Environmental Studies program.

+ BIO: Chris Hastings

Chris Hasting’s passion for television started at age 10 when he produced Kids News, a daily news show at his elementary school outside Philadelphia. After college, he became a founding team member in the development and production of Black Entertainment Television’s award-winning BET Tonight with Tavis Smiley. At WGBH, Chris has worked with children television’s program ZOOM and the WGBH Lab, an innovative incubator for up-and-coming filmmakers. Chris joined WORLD Channel in 2011, where he co-created the award-winning documentary series America ReFramed, Local, USA, and Doc World, and provided editorial oversight to the other original series on WORLD. Series in Chris’s portfolio have won many awards, including a Peabody Award and an Alfred I. duPont-Columbia Award.

Chris is committed to developing a diverse pool of filmmakers and storytellers. He’s a regular collaborator with the National Black Programming Consortium, the Center for Asian American Media, Pacific Islanders in Communications, the National Association of Latino Independent Producers, and Vision Maker Media, and has served as content reader and reviewer on various open calls. In 2016, Chris became a Rockwood JustFilms Fellow and was awarded WGBH’s Margaret and Hans Rey Curious George in-house producer fellowship.

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