Since 2014, Media Impact Funders has been showcasing the work of producers dedicated to creating documentaries in the public interest through our annual Media Impact Festival.

This year, we are celebrating the power of interactive technologies to deepen the relationship between news and documentary projects and their audiences. Our 2016 selections — celebrated at our annual Media Impact Forum — span a range of interactive techniques, including virtual reality, participatory reporting, physical installations, and personalized digital experiences.

A signature goal for our festival is to illuminate creative engagement strategies invented by producers and outreach teams. We hope to demonstrate fresh ways for funders and makers to connect users and influencers with pressing social issues. Download all five case studies for the projects to learn more about the selected teams’ goals, lessons learned, and outcomes, or find individual case studies below.

Throughout the year we will also be hosting face-to-face and online conversations with our festival teams in order to spread knowledge about how such projects can help to fulfill philanthropic goals. Keep an eye on our events section for more details.

Congratulations to the teams who produced this year’s projects:

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Across the Line
This immersive virtual reality experience puts the audience on the scene as anti-abortion extremists try to intimidate patients who seek sexual and reproductive health care. Using documentary 360° video footage and computer generated imaging (CGI), paired with a montage of real audio recording of actual protesters, viewers gain an intimate knowledge of the harassment outside and compassion inside health centers across the country. The film is a powerful hybrid documentary-fiction depiction of the gauntlet that many abortion providers, health center staff, and patients must walk on a typical day in America.

Download case study

The Counted
Through video, interactives, investigative journalism, crowdsourcing, and deep audience engagement this project sought to create a database of Americans killed by police which no government agency — including the FBI — had assembled. The team also worked to tell the stories of those killed by police so that they were no longer anonymous, and raise the level of national consciousness of the magnitude of this crisis in criminal justice.

Download case study


Do Not Track
From April 14 to June 15, 2015, a personalized episode of this inventive web documentary addressed a different issue related to web privacy every two weeks. This allowed users to see how their own personal data is being tracked in real-time. In between each one of the seven episodes, users could read, listen, and dig deeper into the ideas that were examined through additional content.

Download case study

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This interactive documentary and community participatory project  examines the future of rural America through the eyes and voices of those living in McDowell County, West Virginia. The production combines video portraits, data visualizations, photography, soundscapes, community-generated content and grassroots mapping to bring these stories to life through an online experience.

Download case study

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Question Bridge
This innovative transmedia art project uses media to facilitate a healing dialogue between a critical mass of Black men from diverse backgrounds, and creates a platform for them to represent and redefine Black male identity. Through a robust web platform, a media installation for museums, a community engagement campaign, and the delivery of curricula in high schools and universities, Question Bridge aims to help create a paradigm shift in American consciousness around Black male identity that removes two critical obstacles limiting their political, social, and economic advancement: exclusion from the other and estrangement from each other.

Download case study

Many thanks to this year’s selection committee:

  • Festival Chair: Kathy Im, MacArthur Foundation
  • Hussain Currimbhoy, Sundance Film Festival
  • Andrew de Vigal, Agora Journalism Center
  • Ingrid Kopp, TFI Interactive
  • David Mascarina, Annenberg Foundation
  • Andrea Nemtin, Inspirit Foundation
  • Debika Shome, TCC Group
  • Kim Spencer, KCETLink
  • Sarah Wolozin, MIT OpenDocLab