Connection, stories, and solutions at our 2023 Grants Story Summit & Mountainfilm Festival

Resources and recap from our 2023 Redford Center Grants Story Summit

Reflecting on our time up in the mountains of Telluride, surrounded by the stories moving us closer to the solutions we seek, the nature that grounds us in our purpose, and the company of our inspiring grantee cohort — we are sitting in deep gratitude for our time at Mountainfilm Festival and our Grantee Summit. The convening served as an extraordinary affirmation of the core belief that guides our work: stories are the solution we need. 

Our 2023 Redford Center Grants Story Summit took place at the 2023 Mountainfilm Festival. It offered our grantees an opportunity to meet with and discuss their films with each other, connect with film industry leaders and advisors, and be surrounded by their peers and the films making an impact in the field of environmental storytelling. Our summit was the first time our cohort, advisors, and staff were able to connect with each other in person and the impact of those connections made and deepened, ideas shared, and memories made will result in ripples of progress and hope in the storytelling field and environmental movement. As a part of our Summit, we hosted:

  • Redford Center Grantee Summit Session: Film Festivals + Distribution
    Speakers: Redford Center Grantee Advisors, Gita Saedi Kiely, Brian Newman, Tracy Rector, and Justin Wilkenfeld. Moderated by Celia Byrne
    This session explored festival and distributor strategy, examined grassroots versus mainstream distribution, and how to leverage campaigning and self distribution to break through market barriers.

  • Redford Center Grantee Summit Session: Fundraising and Film Financing
    Speakers: Lisa Chanoff, Jill Tidman, Tracy Rector, and Gita Saedi Kiely. Moderated by Heather Fipps.
    This session explored how to strategize and strengthen your application and funder outreach efforts and provided insight into how to navigate asking for funding from granting agencies, foundations/nonprofits, corporations/brands, and crowdfunding best practices. 

  • Redford Center Grantee Summit Session: Impact Strategies
    Speakers: Megha Agrawal Sood, Hannah Hearn, Anna Lee, Jill Tidman, Justin Wilkenfeld, and Hannah Abuzaineh. Moderated by Arathi Govind.

    This session explored how to design a strategy for your film or series to meet your specific impact goals. It also examined how to launch, grow, and sustain your impact campaign in order to attract interest and gain support from the audiences you would most like to connect with.

Another exciting opportunity for our filmmakers was to engage with Mountainfilm Festival’s comprehensive programming, which also featured public sessions produced and hosted by The Redford Center. Including:

DocTalk – The Redford Center: Storytelling Strategies for Climate Solutions
Speakers: Megha Agrawal Sood (Doc Society), Hannah Hearn (Working Films), Jeff Orlowski-Yang (Exposure Labs), Tracy Rector (Nia Tero), and Jill Tidman (The Redford Center). Moderated by Heather Fipps.

Electric cars, reusable water bottles and straws, and solar panels. What do these things have in common? They’re some of the most popular environmental solutions presented to us, yet our collective imagination seems to start and stop with these possibilities. We know it’s going to take a lot more than short-term fixes and commercial efforts to tackle the larger issues facing our planet. It’s time to move beyond, and reimagine our future. This begins with the stories we tell ourselves and each other. Join us for a discussion exploring film’s ability to revolutionize the way we approach the climate crisis. From redefining sustainability, addressing environmental injustice and barriers to access, and mobilizing collective action, you’ll learn about key narrative strategies that transform storytelling impact. 

Coffee Talk – The Redford Center: Stories of Hope in Times of Crisis
Speakers: Andrew Nadkarni (Between Earth and Sky), Meg Griffiths and Scott Faris (Impossible Town), and Alina Simone (Black Snow). Moderated by Jill Tidman.

In the face of constant environmental and humanitarian crises and an alarmist news cycle, finding any hope for our future can feel nearly impossible. However, what we don’t often see are the millions of leaders and communities driving solutions even in the face of systemic injustices, ecological disturbances, and political obstacles. How do you tell a genuinely hopeful environmental story in the face of these threats? Watch Redford Center-supported filmmakers discuss how their films spotlight resilient and inspiring leaders in the environmental movement, highlighting the importance of giving audiences stories of hope even in the midst of crisis.

Thank you again to each and every one of the grantees, advisors, staff members, and attendees that made our summit an unforgettable experience. We hope you watch and return to these recordings for a source of inspiration, hope, and next steps in your journey to support and take part in impact storytelling for people and the planet.

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