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How Do We Measure the Impact of Documentaries?: Data from the Puma Impact Award Nominees

Photo of Bryce J. Renninger By Bryce J. Renninger | Indiewire November 12, 2013 at 10:46AM

In the world of social issue filmmaking, great work is being done in linking films to real-world issues that need attention. But at the same time, more and more pressure is being placed on filmmakers to prove that their film is making real-world impact. The jurors for this year's Puma Impact Award -- Susan Sarandon, Ricken Patel, Gael Garcia Bernal, Zadie Smith, and Eric Schlosser -- have the unenviable task of choosing a winner for a 50,000 Euro reward in honor of the outreach campaigning done by the filmmakers behind one of this year's five nominees.
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Puma Impact Nominees

In the world of social issue filmmaking, great work is being done in linking films to real-world issues that need attention.  But at the same time, more and more pressure is being placed on filmmakers to prove that their film is making real-world impact. The jurors for this year's Puma Impact Award -- Susan Sarandon, Ricken Patel, Gael Garcia Bernal, Zadie Smith, and Eric Schlosser --  have the unenviable task of choosing a winner for a 50,000 Euro reward in honor of the outreach campaigning done by the filmmakers behind one of this year's five nominated films.

Indiewire received exclusive access to more information on the winner's outreach, and we're reporting back on the impact campaigns from each one of the 5 films that were nominated for this year's Puma Impact Award.

Because so many filmmakers are being asked to show their social media stats as proof of their commitment to outreach, we're showing off that data next to the real world policy and discursive impact of the films nominated for this year's awards. Comparing the five films, you can see that social media activity interacts with real-world actions in interesting ways.  It's not the be all end all of social impact, but it does prove that you're engaging people in a certain way.  

Take a closer look at the impact strategies of the five nominees below, with information provided by the Puma Impact Awards.  The winner will be announced tomorrow, November 13 in New York.

"The Act of Killing"
Drafthouse Films A musical sequence from "The Act of Killing."

"The Act of Killing"

Here's What the Film is About:  Director Joshua Oppenheimer meets up with the men who led the death squads in North Sumatra in the Indonesian genocides of the mid 1960's in Indonesia, still heroes in many parts of the country, and has them recreate their killings in the style of their favorite gangster movies.  The "gangsters" relish the opportunity to star in the movie of their lives, but after awhile, they start to face the reality and implications of what they've done.  

Here's What the Outreach Accomplished:  The film was released simultaneous to a report by the Indonesian Human Rights Commission, which developed an 850 page report which provided evidence of the military's implication in the country's genocide.  With screenings across the country, the film has been a key tool in helping the country understand its history.  

Some Organizations Worked With:   Indonesian National Commission of Human Rights, labor unions across Indonesia, survivors communities in Indonesia, organizations in Indonesian universities.  

100 festivals in 57 countries (premiered at Toronto International Film Festival 2012)

1,000+ community screenings

21 countries with theatrical release

29 city US theatrical release

21 television territories sold

29 awards and prizes

1,300,000+ online trailer views

350,000+ website visits  

6,600+ individuals on email list

8,200+ Facebook likes

10,300+ Facebook likes on Indonesian version of film

3,900+ Twitter followers

The Act of Killing social graph


"Bully"
The Weinstein Company "Bully"

"Bully"

Here's What the Film is About:  Lee Hirsch's film profiles the bullying epidemic, specifically in our nation's schools.  "Bully" pays particular attention to the ways that adults are responding to accusations of bullying in hopes that more can be done to prevent this terrible behavior in the future.  The film famously fought the MPAA to get its R rating reduced to a PG-13 rating, in the hopes that young people could see the film.  

Here's What the Outreach Accomplished:  With screening partnerships with the Girl Scouts, school districts across America, and in government organizations like the Department of Education and Congress, "Bully" gave a much-needed centerpiece to the discussion on bullying.  It even got the endorsement of high profile bully Rush Limbaugh, but it's unclear how much he's changed his tune.  

Some Organizations Worked With:   DoSomething.org, GLSEN, HRC, NEA, Autism Speaks, United Federation of Teachers, Facebook, Harvard Graduate School of Education, Common Sense Media

30 festivals in 13 countries (Premiered at Tribeca Film Festival 2011)

7,500+ community screenings (1,000 via 1 Million Kids campaign, 6,500 via "Bully" educational kits)

574 screens over entire theatrical run

7 television territories sold

10 DVD territories sold

13 awards and prizes

5,800,000+ views on online trailer

1,700,000+ unique visitors to website

168,000+ individuals on email list

350,000+ Facebook likes

39,565 Twitter followers

Bully graph

This article is related to: Filmmaker Toolkit: Documentaries, Documentary, Social Issues, Social Impact, Filmmaker Toolkit: Documentaries, The Act of Killing, Bully, Awards Season Roundup






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