About The Project
Movies & Grassroots Community Engagement: Documentary Films & State and Local Public Policy in the United States is the second in a two-volume investigation about the role of documentary films in legislative and regulatory change and influence in the United States. Volume 1 focuses on the federal level, and this report, Volume 2, focuses on state and local levels. Both volumes were directed and written by Caty Borum Chattoo and Will Jenkins for the Center for Media & Social Impact at American University’s School of Communication in Washington, D.C. This investigation was funded by the Fledgling Fund (www.thefledglingfund.org). For the Center for Media & Social Impact, American University graduate student fellows Elise Bell, Elisabeth Drabkin, Kelsey Tate, Hannah Sedgwick, Nesima Aberra, and Michele Alexander provided invaluable research support.
About The Authors
Caty Borum Chattoo is Director of the Center for Media & Social Impact (CMSI) and Executive in Residence at
the American University School of Communication in Washington, D.C. She is an award-winning communication strategist, documentary film/TV producer, and scholar working at the intersection of social change, documentary, and entertainment storytelling.
Borum Chattoo’s social justice documentaries have aired internationally and nationally on Net ix, the Sundance Channel, Pivot, NDTV (India), PBS World, Link TV, KCET, DirectTV and theatrically. She has produced two documentary feature films (Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price and The After Party), a TV documentary and transmedia series (Stand Up Planet, starring Hasan Minhaj from The Daily Show), a multi-part documentary TV series focused on global poverty (ViewChange), a seven-part environmental justice documentary TV series (Sierra Club Chronicles), and PSA campaigns designed for social change on issues ranging from global poverty to climate change to HIV. Peer-reviewed research is featured and forthcoming in top journals in communication and the humanities, and she has been a featured presenter, speaker, and workshop leader on the intersection of entertainment, nonfiction storytelling, and social justice at leading academic conferences (International Communication Association, National Communication Association), professional social-change conferences (Skoll World Forum, TEDx, Frank Conference for Social Change), international film festivals and convenings (Tribeca Film Festival, AFI DOCS, DOC NYC, European Documentary Network, Doc Impact Academy Netherlands), and other professional gatherings. She serves on the board of directors for Working Films, a non-pro t organization working at the intersection of documentary storytelling and community engagement, and Kartemquin Films, a leading social-justice film production company.
Will Jenkins has more than a decade of communications and policy experience at the White House, the Department of Health and Human Services, and Congress. Over the years, he has also worked with many filmmakers and media organizations to help them understand and engage in public policy. Jenkins has spoken and led workshops on films and policymaking for the the Sundance Institute, the South by Southwest Festival, the Tribeca Film Institute, BRITDOC/Good Pitch, SilverDocs/AFI Docs, the International Documentary Association, the Fledging Fund, Docs in Progress, and Women in Film & Video. In 2010, Jenkins wrote a guide to public policy for filmmakers for Documentary magazine (http://www.documentary.org/magazine/filmmakers-guide-capitol-hill).
In 2012, he was Policy Director for the Impact Film Festival at the Republican and Democratic National Conventions, where he coordinated screening discussions with politicians, filmmakers, celebrities, and reporters for the films Butter, Electoral Dysfunction, The House I Live In, Hunger Hits Home, and The Invisible War. In 2013, he developed the American Film Institute’s first “Political Bootcamp for Filmmakers.” During his time in the federal government, Jenkins has served as a spokesperson to local, national and foreign news outlets. He has planned high-profile events and policy rollouts featured in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, USA TODAY, and The Washington Post and managed appearances for government officials on “Meet the Press,” “Morning Joe,” and “The Colbert Report.”
Jenkins has overseen the planning and evaluation of a wide range of communications products and campaigns by multiple federal agencies. As a legislative aide in Congress, he guided from introduction to enactment the first legislation to protect American military members from the health effects of toxic burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan, which has been called “this generation’s Agent Orange.” In 2007, Jenkins founded the Democratic Communicators Network, the professional association for Democratic communications staff in Congress and the Administration, which provides mentoring, networking and training for hundreds of members. He was also elected to serve on the board of the Congressional Legislative Staff Association, a bipartisan staff association in Washington.
About The Center for Media & Social Impact
The Center for Media & Social Impact (CMSI) at American University’s School of Communication, based in Washington, D.C., is a research center and innovation lab that creates, studies, and showcases media for social impact. Focusing on independent, documentary, entertainment, and public media, CMSI bridges boundaries between scholars, producers and communication practitioners who work across media production, media impact, public policy and audience engagement. The Center produces resources for the field and research, convenes conferences and events, and works collaboratively to understand and design media that matter. www.cmsimpact.org