Last month, Kristin and I attended the kickoff for the Community Engagement Through Film course at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Our own co-founder, Judith Helfand, is the resident filmmaker teaching the course this semester along with Gregg Mitman of The Nelson Institute’s Center for Culture, History and the Environment. This course is built entirely on Working Films’ M.O. – How can the movie be in service of the movement?


There are eight films that the students are focusing on, and they are appropriately linked up with community partners who work on the issues in the film. Their mission is twofold – 1) create a way to engage the community and support the organization through taking action; and 2) produce a short video about an issue the partner organization is working on. The class projects will culminate in a highly ambitious environmental film festival titled Tales from Planet Earth. The film festival is a major public outreach event of the Center for Culture, History, and Environment within the Gaylord Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

troygardensDuring the first week, students were introduced to the organizations and the films that they will be working with this semester. The organizations involved with the course include:

As part of our time there, Kristin and I walked the students through different social media tools that will help them in documenting the process, spreading the word about their project, maintaining relationships with organizations and garnering support from the community. Also, at the festival students will use some of these tools to engage people to “take action” viewing the film.

Check out the Tales from Planet Earth Facebook page to get the latest updates!

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