Documentaries are increasingly a primary vehicle for elevating complex issues to the national agenda in inspiring, impactful and thought-provoking ways. They tell the big stories, follow the intimate journeys, and introduce the new voices and new ideas that make up our vibrant social fabric. A human story well told becomes a point of entry to unfamiliar social landscapes and leaves us with a deeper understanding of each other and the forces that shape our lives.
At a time when our politics has become polarized and the open-minded exchange of ideas and viewpoints is in short supply, Social Cinema joins forces with New America’s distinctive community of thinkers, writers, researchers, technologists, and community activists, and the Betaworks Studios membership of forward-looking tech innovators, to engage audiences in a well-rounded exploration of the issues at the heart of today’s most compelling documentary films.
Drawing from a rich international community of filmmakers, Social Cinema selects the nonfiction films that best dramatize our country’s most timely social and political issues and previews them for a diverse, thoughtful, and influential audience. Our audience and participants include leaders and innovators from government and public policy, journalism and media, science and new technologies, cultural and academic institutions, civil rights and human rights.
Every month, Social Cinema features a new, award-winning documentary on one of the pressing topics of our times: global politics (The Brink); the power of media (Divide & Conquer: The Roger Ailes Story); new technology (The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley, Republic of Desire); the environment and climate change (Paris to Pittsburgh, Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power); the economy (Abacus: Too Small to Jail); living in poverty (Step, Rich Hill); globalization (We Come As Friends); girls and women’s empowerment (Half the Sky); race, identity, and social justice (I Am Not Your Negro, Whose Streets); immigration and citizenship (Human Flow, Documented); surveillance and privacy (Feeling of Being Watched, Zero Days); gun violence and criminal justice reform (The Armor of Light, The House I Live In).
To encourage more informed civic engagement, each screening is followed by a conversation that explores key social issues with depth, candor, and complexity and examines the levers of change, while never losing sight of the human stakes. Participants include prominent journalists, policy makers, advocates, stakeholders, New America directors and fellows, the filmmakers and often the film’s subjects.
Social Cinema offers a critical launching pad. By previewing documentaries for before their general release, the series helps frame and focus the conversations that will follow across media, connects the filmmakers to new communities, welcomes new voices and new perspectives into the national dialogue, and raises a film’s visibility with hard-toreach policy professionals – a kick-start to a film’s social impact at this early stage in its release.