Spotlight Exclusives

Poverty through Another Lens

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Despite the sobering statistics, it can be difficult to put faces on the millions living below the poverty line. The good news is that media and advocacy organizations are beginning to tell the story of poverty in this country through platforms such as television shows and documentaries that can bring to life for larger audiences the challenges confronting low-income Americans.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office” />


Recently, OOTS covered a documentary released in October by Sojourners called The Line, which illuminates the lives of those living at or below the poverty line. Now, at least four new television programs and films on poverty are on the way:


·         PBS۪ FRONTLINE plans to air a program titled Poor Kids on November 20. The show will take a close look at families hit hard by the recession from the perspective of three young girls.


·         Sponsored by Participant Media producer of films like Waiting for “Superman” and An Inconvenient Truth A Place at the Table will follow the stories of three low-income individuals in America. The film will document the ripple effect of hunger, showing how a lack of healthy food negatively impacts not only these individuals, but the American economy and society as a whole. Release plans are not yet set for this film.


·        The Raising of America: Early Childhood and the Future of Our Nation will examine how early childhood experiences serve as a vital stepping stone to later opportunity. Being produced for a PBS broadcast by California Newsreel withVital Pictures, this documentary also will follow three families to give viewers real-life examples of human development and its effects. This documentary was previously titled American Birthright, covered in a past OOTS as well. Release plans are for spring 2013.


·         Joe and Harry Gantz Emmy award-winning filmmakers are in the post-production phase for American Winter, which will profile eight families dealing with the Great Recession. It was funded in-part by a Kickstarter project, and will aim to humanize the difficult decisions being made in federal budget discussions around social services.


Because these films are likely to prompt many in the audience to want to take action, video producers and supporters are pairing the documentaries with social outreach campaigns. To create a nationwide buzz, viewers were encouraged to host a screening of The Line the same night the film was released in Washington, DC. Audiences were also asked to use digital platforms to share the video with presidential candidates, asking them to focus on poverty in their campaigns after viewing the film۪s poignant poverty narratives.


Two of the documentaries yet to be released take a similar approach. For instance, The Raising of America plans to educate audiences through short training videos. These videos will be used as tools for a wide variety of groups such as communities, clinics, or higher education classes to learn about the problems addressed in the film. The makers of A Place at the Table plan to create a consortium of top non-profits, experts and businesses to help the public decipher the complicated issues of poverty and hunger, and to rally behind the idea that access to reasonably priced, healthy food is a prudent objective for our society as a whole. 


Films can be a powerful way to tell stories and a critical spur to action. OOTS hopes these films continue to nudge the national dialogue on poverty forward.


Posted by Sarah

Here at Out of the Spotlight, we offer a behind-the-scenes look at the latest news and information essential to anyone working to fight poverty. From key political appointees to clashes over policy, we cover the news that doesn’t always make the evening news. Check out Out of the Spotlight for our take on the twists and turns of the latest political developments and their impact on poverty reduction. Topics and ideas are welcome! Just contact or

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