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From Engagement to Political Impact

If we succeed in engaging audiences, how do we move them from engagement to building a movement for international justice and exerting pressure on policy makers?

I attended a panel in San Francisco yesterday called Sourcing the Future: Marketing and Sustainability for Social Justice Media Online where we heard lots of ideas on how to increase the visibility of a documentary project, thinking of it more as content than programming, getting users to spread your work through social networks, the usual head-scratching about monetizing social issue work, and so forth, but I was left with this enduring question: how do we take someone who has become engaged with an issue and move them to political action?  With some issues you can make individual changes in your lifestyle that can impact the larger picture, like the food you eat, the car you drive, etc.  But other issues require collective action and political pressure.  The Reckoning will raise public awareness about the ICC – from that point, how can we get the US to engage with the Court and ratify the Rome Statute?  It’s going to require political pressure – if we succeed in engaging the public, we’ll have to go the next step and organize those engaged people to help us educate and press policy makers to support this important new Court.  Beyond all the online tools we can bring to bear, we also need to bring people together offline.  We should definitely offer screening kits to build on what AIUSA has been doing with the film we made for them, Justice Without Borders, so that people can get together around the issue and meet each other, and hopefully create nodes of engaged citizens around the country to get behind the ICC.

Paco de Onís

Paco is the Executive Director and Executive Producer of Skylight, a human rights media organization dedicated to advancing social justice through storytelling by creating documentary films and media tools that can applied in long-term strategies for positive social change.

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