SUPPORT: E Pluribus Unum

Thousands of stories in the evolution of one world

Nigerian writer Chimanda Ngozi Adichie and the Danger of the Single Story

In just a few days, we’ll be announcing our Winter 2012 grantees–ten films by ten filmmakers that, coincidentally, mark our tenth year of grantmaking.

It’s a significant milestone, and an auspicious occasion.  And like all granting cycles, it affords a moment to reflect on the statement we’re making.  Because in awarding these grants, we are of course saying that of the hundreds of projects we reviewed, these ten are “the best”… But are they?

A few years ago, Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie gave a TEDtalk about the “danger of the single story.”  Her essential point was that no one story, no singular history or perspective, is the only story—and believing otherwise is what leads to the inability of many people to be sympathetic, if not empathetic, toward other cultures.

It’s a simple and true analysis, most people do tend to only hear the story that’s within earshot—whether that comes from their government, history, religion, family or community.   And it’s a sentiment that often echoes in mind, especially when we award grants to filmmakers or, choose films for Global Lens: Are we telling a single story?

It’s an interesting question.  The ten films receiving grants are the only ones that you will hear about from us, but they aren’t the only stories that deserve to be heard.  There are millions of people narrating the world, and our recognition of just a few–set in African cities the defy all stereotype and in Georgian cornfields that could be Iowa–is meant to pique curiosity about what else might be out there…

This is our tenth year, and by now we’ve seen, read and heard thousands of stories by an equivalent number of filmmakers.  We have been lucky, and in a few days, we’ll announce our Winter 2012 grantees.  But are they the best?  That’s a good question, and the only way to know is to head out into the world and find out…

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