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Activists who know how to tell a good story

August 8, 2009

The battle for attention and issues is all about getting the story right and creating a compelling piece of media to transmit that story. This year food and animal rights have loomed from and center in three important films; Food Inc, The Cove and End of the Line.

Food Inc explores the impact of the industrialization of the US food system on people and animals, End of the Line covers the plight of fish in the world’s oceans and The Cove focuses on the dolphin slaughter in small town in Japan.

I got the chance to see The Cove last night and it’s a great film centered on the creator of Flipper and explains how a change of heart led him on a mission to release dolphins from captivity. This mission takes him to a small town in Japan where dolphins are acquired for aquariums and the ones that remain are slaughtered.

The problem with many documentaries is that fail to get their point across in a compelling way and end up preaching to the converted, The genius of The Cove and Food Inc is that appreciate and understand the need to expand the audience for the issue beyond the small band of activists. They do this by making the issues very clear and compelling and in the case of The Cove, adding a huge element of drama.

While these films will never capture the box office of Up, they are still must see movies that cleverly use social media as a tool for promotion and a springboard to activism.

The success of these films is proof that there’s no substitute for good storytelling as a way to breakthrough in the attention war. Seeing a film about dolphin slaughter is not most people’s idea of an entertaining Friday evening, but The Cove got me to pay attention, listen and to take action, which is no mean feat.

Posted by Ed Cotton

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