Hot Docs Talk: Docs Change People. People Change the World.
Film Info
Festival Year:2014
Official Rating:None

Can documentaries change people?

Films, especially documentaries, can have an immense impact on a viewer's knowledge and beliefs. How does this really work? Imagine if we could measure how our opinions and actions are being influenced by what we watch. Johanna Blakley will share her finding on her audience media analytics of Food, Inc. with some insightful and surprising results.

How are people changing the world because of documentaries?

Documentary plays a unique role within various media ecosystems by advancing social justice. Patricia Finneran will present several remarkable stories to illustrate how shifts in several issue areas have occurred due to a filmmaker's work and their audiences' response.

HERMAN'S HOUSE—A look at impact in action...

After living in solitary confinement for 30 years, what kind of house would you envision? When artist Jackie Sumell asks jailed Black Panter activist Herman Wallace, it triggers a trip through the years of brutal injustice captured in the documentary Herman's House. The filmmaking team of Herman's House worked closely with Amnesty International, the California Prison Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition and Solidarity Watch to bring awareness and action to Wallace's interment and the shocking practice of long-term solitary across America. Producer Lisa Valencai-Svensson and Picture Motion's director of digital strategy Darcy Heusel will present how thier efforts and alliances were able to assist in Herman Wallace's release shortly before he passed away from cancer.

Tickets can be picked up at the venue box office on the day of the event.


Johanna Blakley, Managing Director and Director of Research, The Norman Lear Center

Johanna Blakley, PhD, is the managing director and director of research at The Norman Lear Center, a research and public policy institute that explores the convergence of entertainment, commerce and society. Based at USC’s Annenberg School, Blakley performs research on a wide variety of topics, including global entertainment, cultural diplomacy, entertainment education, digital media and intellectual property law. She has two talks on and she speaks frequently in the US and abroad about her research. In partnership with the Gates Foundation and the Knight Foundation, Blakley recently launched a new research initiative The Media Impact Project, which collects and analyzes information from multiple institutions to provide thought leadership on the best ways to measure engagement with media and evaluate social impact.

Patricia Finneran, Principle, Story Matters

Patricia is a long-time leader in documentary film, who has help senior positions as IFP/New York, American Film Institute and Sundance Institute, and currently consults to BRITDOC on the Good Pitch.

Darcy Heusel, Director of Digital Strategy, Picture Motion

Social impact strategists use the power of stories to accelerate change, and work with filmmakers, distributors, funders and non-profits with inspiring films and media. Their campaigns raise awareness, and educate and motivate audiences to think critically and be active, engaged citizens. They do this by harnessing the power of strategic partnerships, social media, web and mobile technology, community screenings, research, and grassroots marketing. When the credits roll, they answer the question, "What can I do now?"

Lisa Valencia-Svensson, Producer, Herman's House (Storyline Entertainment)

Her first feature length documentary was the award-winning HERMAN'S HOUSE. Directed by Angad Singh Bhalla, HERMAN'S HOUSE played at True/False, Full Frame and Hot Docs in 2012, and was selected for the 2013 season of the prestigious PBS documentary series POV. The film was produced in association with the Ford Foundation JustFilms Initiative, and was supported by the Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program.

Presented in partnership with the Inspirit Foundation.