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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.
'Give Up Tomorrow'
PBS 'Give Up Tomorrow'

"Give Up Tomorrow"

Here's What the Film is About:  Paco Larrañaga is accused of the rape and murder of two sisters who died during a tropical storm in the Philippines.  The nineteen year-old student had overwhelming evidence of his innocence, but for several years nothing could be done.  The film was released after being in production for seven years.  

Here's What the Outreach Accomplished:  The campaign to free Paco has led to his extradition to a Spanish prison, where he is treated much better but still must sleep behind bars.  In the years since his conviction, the death penalty has been abolished in the Philippines.  The film, though, has led to greater awareness of anti-death penalty campaigns.  

Some Organizations Worked With: From the jury's dossier, "Fair Trials International, Reprieve and Amnesty International use the film to lobby for Paco’s pardon. Commission Against the Death Penalty, The Innocence Project, and many anti death penalty NGOs use the film to campaign against the death penalty."

70 festivals in 35 countries (Premiered at Tribeca Film Festival 2011)

175 screens over entire theatrical run

1,700,000+ television viewers in 9 territories

4,200+ DVDs sold

18 awards and prizes

90,000+ online trailer views

71,400+ visits to

55,000+ visits to

6,600+ individuals on email list

6,300+ Facebook likes on "Give Up Tomorrow" and Free Paco Now pages

1,200+ Twitter followers on @GiveUpTomorrow and @FreePacoNow

Give Up Tomorrow social graph

The Interrupters

"The Interrupters"

Here's What the Film is About:  Chicago gangbusters Ceasefire are the inspiring bunch behind Steve James's documentary.  The film shows the organization take to the streets to curb gang violence in a city plagued with it.  

Here's What the Outreach Accomplished: With an issue that often grabs headlines but doesn't inspire activism, the film has spurred a great amount of discussion on how we can make change in our own communities and what can be done to prevent violence and to help give opportunities to those that don't think they have them.  

Some Organizations Worked With: CeaseFire, the governments of Philadelphia and Milwakuee; churches and other religious groups (Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Quaker) in cities like Oakland, Houston, and Newark; Google's Chicago office; the American Bar Association; ACLU.

44 festivals in 15 countries (premiered at Sundance Film Festival 2011)

16,000+ viewers at community screenings

41,000+ theatrical audience members

2,900,000+ television viewers worldwide

20,000+ DVDs sold

14 awards and prizes

540,000 online trailer views

100,000+ unique visitors to website

1,500 individuals on email list

7,250+ Facebook likes

5,450+ Twitter followers 

Interrupters social graph

'The Invisible War'
'The Invisible War'

"The Invisible War"

Here's What the Film is About:  Projecting out into a world that hardly acknowledged the issue at all, "The Invisible War" revealed that 1 in 4 women were being sexually assaulted during military service.  The film reveals the lengths individual members and organizations within the armed forces would go to cover up any accusations.

Here's What the Outreach Accomplished:  "The Invisible War" has made sexual assaults in the military a huge issue in the media and within the Pentagon.  The attention brought to the issue by the film has spurred a huge amount of action that aims to create a long-term plan to stop the violence.  

Some Organizations Worked With: Protect Our Defenders, Service Women's Action Network, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, Equality Now, NYCLU, The Soldiers Project.

79 festivals in 22 countries (premiered at Sundance Film Festival 2012)

1,400+ community screenings

110 city theatrical release

2,100,000+ television viewers

17,000+ DVD sales

739,000+ online trailer views

19 awards and prizes

282,000+ visits to

190,000+ visits to

39,000+ individuals on #NotInvisible email list

115,000+ signatures on petition email list

36,000+ Facebook likes

8,000+ Twitter followers

"The Invisible War" social 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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