Talk about spirited discussion. Stories of Change charged up Main Street, Park City Tuesday afternoon. Led by the Skoll Foundation and the Sundance Institute, the SoC panel discussion brought social entrepreneurs Joia Mukherjee (Partners in Health) and Bunker Roy (Barefoot College) to the stage, along with the film-makers who are telling their stories. There was a packed house at the Egyptian Theater – and lots of cheers and clapping.
Jeff Skoll, kicking things off, said social entrepreneurs and film-makers are “a potent team that help us have hope.” Their work – in the field, and on screen – can make the difference between a bleak future and a bright one. “Storytelling isn’t just a good idea,” he said, “it’s absolutely critical.”
Joia (featured in a film by Kief Davidson) thanked Sally Osberg ” for teaching me what a social entrepreneur is,” and talked about how PIH now employs 15,000 people, 80 percent of them the rural poor. Bunker (featured in a film by Jehane Noujaim) talked of his dream to have “solar grandmothers from every part of the world. They come as grandmothers and go back like tigers.” One such granny, 55, in Afghanistan, has lit 200 homes.
The crowd – including a great showing of other Skoll awardees: Gary White, Molly Melching, Beto Verissimo and Carlos Souza Jr, and Gene Falk – was rapt, particularly after watching clips from the working cuts of both films. But, at least in this part of Sundance, there was no celebrity worship going on. Sally Osberg, summing up, said: “Social entrepreneurs know the most important characters are the consituents they serve.”