At this year’s Sundance Film Festival, Stella Artois sponsored the panel discussion, “Storytelling Through Film to Incite Change”. The panel included Crystal Moselle, Fazeelat Aslam, Henry Joost, and Ariel Schulman. The event celebrated these talented and insightful filmmakers, as well as addressed how film can introduce the masses to important issues in our world today, and motivate them into action to drive change in our world.
Crystal Moselle, the accomplished documentary film-maker and winner of the Grand Jury Prize for her documentary “Wolfpack” is well known and respected for her work, not only in film-making; she has also been published by Vice and the New York Times.
Fazeelat Aslam is a documentary film-maker and journalist originally from Pakistan. She is the co-producer of the Oscar winning documentary short film “Saving Face”, and has produced additional documentary works for PBS Frontline, Channel 4 UK, and HBO.
Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman founded the production company Supermarché in New York City. Their feature directorial debut “Catfish” premiered at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival, and they went on to executive produce “Catfish: the TV Show” for MTV. These talented collaborators have gone on to direct two installments for the “Paranormal Activity” franchise for Paramount, as well as two new upcoming films “Viral” for Dimension and “Nerve” for Lionsgate. They have directed many documentaries over the years, including “Meals Per Hour”, which inspired the contribution of over one million meals to New Yorker’s affected by Hurricane Sandy.
During the panel discussion the question was asked: “What comes first the desire to make change or the film?”
Schulman and Joost spoke about how everyone has a story to tell and that they are all interesting stories to document and explore. Moselle added that she felt for her it was about the person, and finding the person to inspire the story to make the film. The panel went on to explore why they chose film as their creative avenue of choice and specifically documentaries. The panel agreed that film is one of the most effective medias to present relevant topics to mass audiences in our world today. Aslam further explained, “Film is the easiest ways to create a message and empathy, as well as help people relate to each other and subjects they may not normally be exposed to. Film creates bridges between cultures and people.”
Many other questions were asked, and of note was a question about how the film-makers are able to capture the subjects in their films being so forth coming and honest about themselves and their stories. Schulman spoke about getting to know your subject and the innate compassion for them instead of exploiting the situation was important for him. Aslam expanded on this idea, and spoke of the need to be very aware of when people wanted to talk, as well as sensitive to when they did not. Moselle continued the thread with her views about a filmmaker being willing to take the time to get to know the subject on a personal level, and the intuitiveness that comes from feeling when someone wants to share and when they don’t; the importance of the development of trust between the subject and filmmaker, which she said spanned over a five years for her film “Wolfpack”.