Innovation That Matters

Educational film | Photo source Unsplash

Film documentaries used in curriculums to boost engagement


As a new interactive resource for learning humanities within higher education, a startup connects documentary film-makers with university programs.

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Docademia’s mission is to provide a platform for authentic storytelling by under-represented voices. Founded by Nassim Abdi, a platform that licenses documentary films, provides film for university professors to incorporate into their curriculum, and compensates filmmakers for the use of their films. Each year, the Chicago-based startup hosts an international short film documentary contest. It receives thousands of submissions for general consideration throughout the year. Key to the startup’s success in reaching storytellers is the compensation offered via a two-year licensing deal. Film-makers approve the use of their work, including where, how and by whom.

Abdi explains, “People in this generation understand something better when it’s visual… and that disconnect was something that I really started thinking about”. To grab students attentions, the company provides professors with access to a library of stories that have never been told. Furthermore, they are developing a subscription package available for a monthly fee. Professors access materials at no additional cost. Students and members of the public pay for membership. As well as the films themselves, the curriculum often includes a QandA with the film-maker activist. Educators may also arrange workshops for faculty. Docademia wants to get films into all the social science areas of study. The founders of the company are passionate about critical engagement and discourse and believe in the power of film.

Film effects change in other ways as well. Around 22 people in the US die every day due to a lack of donated organs. To encourage people to donate, a campaign used a feature film to ask the question of how far someone would be willing to go to save a life. Viewers visit the website, enter a code, and hold their mobile phones to their hearts. Once the phone’s accelerometer detects a heartbeat, it brings the film’s actress to life in digital movie posters and a Times Square Billboard. For viewers with limited sight and hearing ability, an American startup created an app that uses technology to amplify sound and provide screen descriptions. How else could the arts encourage positive behavior change and constructive analysis?




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