Social change promoted through film and television at USM Gulf Park festival

Published in the Sun Herald

Prisclila Loebenberg

LONG BEACH — Television producers led off the Social Change Film Festival and Institute on Monday at the University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Park Campus with a workshop designed to teach participants how to use video in support of social justice issues.

The event was presented by the Social Change Film Festival and Institute of New Orleans and co-sponsored by USM and the Mississippi Center for Justice. The goal of SCFFI is to create a global festival with a local presence, said SCFFI Director Cynthia Phillips.

“We want to engage people through story to promote social change,” said Phillips, who helped lead the workshop with Mark Alton Brown and Dee LaDuke.

Brown and LaDuke were consulting producers on CW’s “Girlfriends” for eight seasons and were award-wining writers on the series “Designing Women.” The pair gave students and advocates instructions on how to produce and sell ideas to television. Participants also learned how to use video on television and the internet to recruit volunteers, engage the public and motivate opinion leaders.

“TV and internet are great mediums,” said Phillips. “So much social change happens because of TV.”

The workshop was followed by the films “Arise” and “Admissions.” “Arise,” narrated by actress Daryl Hannah, tells the stories of women around the world who are coming together to promote a more sustainable future. “Admissions” is a short film starring James Cromwell set in the admissions room to the afterlife that explores what is necessary to promote a lasting peace between Israel and Palestine.

Information about SCFFI can be found at