How to Step Up Your Outreach with a Powerful Film Screening
8 popular films our grantees are screening right now
Posted on August 27, 2019 by Estella Ramirez
It’s unmistakable — the transformative power of a good film. Films help us escape our everyday lives and experience a spectrum of complex emotions. The best ones do it all — engage us with hard truths, offer us hope, and compel us to take action. Great films are powerful tools for vegan outreach.
Films as tools for social change
In 2017, the film Okja unexpectedly stirred excitement around veganism. It’s an action-adventure movie about a child who risks everything to rescue her friend — a genetically modified “super pig” named Okja — from the powerful corporation that will slaughter her for food.
The filmmakers’ intent was for people to consider where their food comes from — not necessarily to become vegan. But the effect Okja has had on viewers is undeniable. According to PETA, Google searches for the term “vegan” increased by 65% in the six weeks following the film’s launch. Social media lit up with comments about going vegan as a result of watching Okja.
Other films, such as What the Health and Dominion, also have a reputation for motivating people to be vegan.
Just watched “What the Health” and had been planning on “Okja” next, so I’m probably gonna be a vegan by tomorrow.
Vomad’s 2019 global study asked 12,814 vegans what first made them seriously consider veganism. The top answer: a feature-length documentary (21.9%).
Whether or not they became vegan immediately after watching, it was a documentary that planted the first seed. Will some people try but fail the first time? Of course. But, for some, the impulse to go vegan will eventually take root. That’s where effective outreach comes in.
Create your own film-screening experience
Film screenings are versatile events to organize. When thoughtfully planned, even the darker documentaries can be positive experiences for the audience. Consider these tips to make your film screening entertaining and informative for everyone:
Select a film according to the topic you want to address (animal rights, health and fitness, the environment). Keep your chosen audience in mind. For example, levels of graphic details vary, so be aware if children will be attending.
The venue you select can be as simple and inexpensive as a space in your local library, community center, or church. For something a bit larger in scale, you can look into your local indie and art house theaters.
Consider providing an introduction and a post-film Q&A session to set the tone and open up the discussion. Subject-matter experts (one or a panel) can facilitate a productive conversation.
If space allows, arrange to have a social area before and after the film. For graphic films such as Dominion, provide a break room and self-care information.
Offer delicious vegan samples! Conversations unfold naturally over good food. Consider holding your food sampling after the event. This way, audience members can talk to speakers, volunteers, and other attendees about their experience.
Provide resources for those who want to know more or are ready to try a vegan lifestyle. Have literature and tablets/sign-up sheets on hand. Consider promoting one of the many great veg pledge programs.
What film to screen
The film you choose is entirely up to you, and there are many remarkable ones available. The list grows every year.
Here are eight of the most popular films our grantees are screening now:
A Prayer for Compassion. Thomas Wade Jackson’s quest across America ultimately takes him to Morocco for the UN Climate Conference and throughout the Indian subcontinent to ask, “Can compassion grow to include all beings?” A Prayer for Compassion calls on people of faith and spiritual seekers of every stripe to expand their circle of compassion to embrace all life, regardless of species, and make choices in alignment with this value.
Dominion. This feature-length documentary combines footage from hidden, handheld, and drone cameras to expose the dark underbelly of modern animal agriculture. The film reveals how humans exploit and abuse animals, particularly in the meat, dairy, egg, clothing, and entertainment industries. Joaquin Phoenix and Kat Von D narrate. Earthlings creator Shaun Monson is a co-producer.
Eating You Alive. Featuring leading medical experts and researchers, Eating You Alive takes a scientific look at the reasons we’re so sick, who’s responsible for feeding us the wrong information, and how we can use whole-food, plant-based nutrition to take control of our health — one bite at a time.
Kangaroo. This groundbreaking film reveals the truth surrounding Australia’s love–hate relationship with its beloved icon. The kangaroo image is proudly used by top companies, sports teams, and as tourist souvenirs, yet when kangaroos hop across the vast continent, some consider them pests to be shot and sold for profit.
Love & Bananas. Elephant rescues in Thailand are rare, unpredictable, and often life-threatening. Actor/director Ashley Bell and a team of elephant rescuers led by Lek Chailert, world-renowned Asian elephant conservationist and TIME Magazine‘s Hero of Asia, embark on a daring mission 480 miles across Thailand to rescue Noi Na, a 70-year-old, partially blind trekking elephant, and bring her to freedom.
The End of Meat. Filmmaker Marc Pierschel embarks on a journey to discover what effect a post-meat world would have on the environment, the animals, and ourselves. He meets Esther the Wonder Pig, who became an internet phenomenon; talks to pioneers leading the vegan movement in Germany; visits the first completely vegetarian city in India; witnesses rescued farm animals enjoying their newly found freedom; observes the future food innovators making meat and dairy without the animals, even harvesting “bacon” from the ocean, and much more.
The Invisible Vegan. This 90-minute independent documentary explores the problem of unhealthy dietary patterns in the African-American community and highlights the health and wellness possibilities enabled by plant-based vegan diets and lifestyle choices. The documentary begins with the personal story of Jasmine Leyva, a 30-year-old black actress and filmmaker currently based in Los Angeles.
The Last Pig. The Last Pig is a lyrical meditation on what it means to be a sentient creature with the power to kill. Deeply immersive, the film follows a pig farmer through his final year of slaughtering pigs. Through sparse, intimate musings, the farmer reveals the growing conflict of a life spent “peddling in death.”
A VegFund grant will cover up to $250 towards the film-licensing fees. It can also cover other costs associated with the venue, literature, food sampling, and advertising.
You’ve decided on a film to screen, created a budget, and envisioned the framework of your event. You’re ready to fill out a VegFund grant application. Be sure to submit your application at least three weeks in advance of your planned date. Once your grant is approved, you carry out the film screening. Within 30 days following your event, you submit a report that includes your actual expenses, and VegFund reimburses you.
For certain films, we pay the licensing fee directly to the filmmakers, which eliminates that particular cost from your budget. Learn which films are covered by this agreement in our Resource, Recommended Films for Screening.
Make an impact
Our grantees report that their film-screening events are incredibly rewarding experiences. Their captivated audiences have been eager to engage in sincere conversations about what they saw and to learn more about what they can do to have a positive impact. With a bit of planning, anyone can execute a powerful film-screening event. Learn more about film-screening grants.