Storytelling and Social Justice
Working on the WhyPoverty? film series in Cape Town, South Africa.
I have always been inspired by a great story. Whether it is film, theatre, or literature, I have found stories to be incredibly transformative. While I was in college I became increasingly aware of story's ability to create change and comment on social justice issues in our world. Through plays written by Harold Pinter, Athol Fugard, or Eve Ensler, I was able to really think about issues like discrimination, torture and women's rights. Of course, I did not realize immediately that it was specifically the relationship between social justice and storytelling that inspired me. It took me years of working on relationship dramas and period comedies ( which are absolutely valuable and plenty of fun!!) to realize that what I loved most about storytelling was the advocacy it provoked in me.
After this realization, and working on original plays in collaboration with some lovely non-profits in Chicago, did I decide to study Human Rights at the University of York. It was during my MA that I fell in love with documentaries. They were the perfect balance of storytelling and advocacy that I so wanted to be a part of. I had the pleasure of working on the Why Poverty? film series in Cape Town and was able to see first hand how involved students were in activism. When I learned that Brave New Films wanted to start an education outreach program, I could not have been more excited.
Not only do I believe that documentaries have a special ability to inspire activism, but also that the specific stories to which college students are exposed can actually shape our future policy. We perceive our entire world through stories- through a set of collective stories we shape our opinions and beliefs. Often through traditional media, that set of stories becomes increasingly narrow. Whether there are reports on drone strikes or business in politics, we are not always shown the entire picture.
Unless students are exposed to more- asked to think about the one version they have been told, challenge norms and debate ideologies, then the world cannot move forward. I believe this is a very important time to be using films to start conversation. I am very glad Brave New Films is beginning this endeavor, and I am so glad to be a part of it.
Laurie Jones is the Education Outreach Coordinator for Brave New Films. Through her work in theatre, particularly plays with Wishbone Theatre Collective in Chicago IL, Laurie developed her passion for human rights and social justice. She received her BA in Production Studies in Performing Arts from Clemson University and her MA in Applied Human Rights from the University of York in the UK. Even though York and Chicago are among the best places in the world, she is now thrilled to be dry and warm in sunny LA.