Participant Media, the socially conscious production company behind highly acclaimed documentaries like An Inconvenient Truth and feature movies like Charlie Wilson's War, launched a Social Action Campaign this week to promote the "transformative power of storytelling," in preparation for the August 10 premiere of The Help, a film based on the novel by Kathryn Stockett about African-American maids working in white households in Mississippi during the early 1960s.
The production company is collaborating with The Moth, a New York City-based nonprofit storytelling organization, and other mentoring organizations, including WriteGirl, Young Storyteller’s Foundation, Girls Right Now, to lead four-day storytelling training workshops in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago for 12 high school students in each city. The workshops are based around the theme of "Stand Up," paying homage to the women depicted in the film, who had the courage to share their own stories for their own dignity and for broader social progress. At the culmination of their workshop, the students have a chance to perform their story. The New York student story showcase was held on July 26 at El Museo del Barrio, New York's leading Latino cultural institution.
"We designed this initiative in the spirit of the bold characters portrayed in the film, who risk everything to tell the stories of their lives," said Liana Schwarz, senior vice president of Participant Media's Social Action and Advocacy, "and through the process of storytelling, become empowered and, in turn, motivate others to stand up for themselves."
To learn more about the storytelling-as-advocacy initiative, visit http://www.takepart.com/thehelp. Throughout the course of the campaign, there will be storytelling competitions. For example, on August 1, people are invited to "write an inspirational children's story teaching valuable lessons" for a chance to win an illustrated and exclusive online release.
As the website says: "Sharing [stories] has an undeniable power. Stories offer windows into our lives, they help us understand someone halfway around the world, or remind us why we love the person right in front of us.Without stories, we're isolated from different perspectives, unable to see that there are more similarities between us than differences. There is always hope because there is always a story."