By Rusen Kumar
MUMBAI: YES! i am the CHANGE, initiated by YES FOUNDATION, the social development arm of YES BANK, has emerged as the largest filmmaking challenge in India and one of the biggest short-filmmaking movements in the world, with 1750+ films made by over 50,000 citizen filmmakers from 1,000 cities and towns across all states of India. The films were made on current issues of national importance including women’s safety, child rights and education, livelihood, environmental sustainability, women’s empowerment and elderly care.
Prerana Langa, CEO of YES Foundation shares her views and how the initiative is creating inner transformation of youth through exposure to social causes. She says, “ YES! i am the CHANGE has emerged as the largest filmmaking program in India and one of the biggest in the world.” Excerpts:
What is the mission of ‘YES! i am the CHANGE’ initiative?
YES! i am the CHANGE (YIAC) is a nationwide movement to inspire, engage and empower youth to participate in India’s social transformation through the impactful medium of films. Media has emerged as an amplifier and an increasingly critical means for driving social transformation, as it enables one to voice concerns, engage with society, and generate participation and action solutions.
The initiative focuses on creating inner transformation of youth through exposure to social causes, inspiring them to make films for social change, and facilitating creation of high quality, informative short films on social issues, which form an open repository enabling Not-for-Profits to use them for the purpose of spreading awareness and mobilizing resources.
This year, YES! i am the CHANGE has emerged has the largest filmmaking challenge in India and one of the biggest film movements in the world, with over 1750+ completed film submissions and participation of over 50,000 youth, across all Indian states.
Why such kind of initiative is needed?
We have a large youth population and these young people have been proactively voicing their concerns about social issues, contrary to the popular belief that they are apathetic about the country’s development. The youth have ideas, passion, and most important of all, determination to bring about change and there is a need to harness this enormous untapped energy towards the growth and development of the nation.
On the other hand, Not-for-Profits have been playing a pivotal role in addressing social issues but their efforts require a multiplier effect, addressing scale and impact within India. Access to good audio visual content and committed volunteers increases manifold the awareness generation and resource mobilization capacity of Not-for-Profits.
When it was launched?
YES! i am the CHANGE is the inaugural project of YES FOUNDATION, and was launched in April 2013.
How are you addressing social challenges through this initiative?
Through the 101-Hour National Filmmaking Challenge, we encourage youth to make short films (5 minutes or less duration) on social causes, random acts of kindness and everyday heroes. We create opportunities for youth to engage with social issues through a fun and experiential medium, and build sensitivity towards causes so that they may become life-long agents of change. Many participants have started engaging with social causes and harnessing the power of media for social change.
For example, Kuljeet Chaudhary, a participant who made a film on animal rights has become a passionate and active volunteer with Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA). Samir Karnik, a first time filmmaker who participated in YIAC 2013, made a film on St. Catherine’s Home for girls born with HIV. After making the film, Samir and his team have stayed involved with the home, and held music and arts and crafts events for the girls. Other participants have gone on to make more films on social issues, including a team from Ladakh who are now making a film on inspiring Ladakhi women.
Moreover, the project creates a repository of films that can be used free of cost by Not-for-Profits to raise awareness and mobilise resources for their work.
What kind of challenges you facing to implement this noble mission?
The challenge is to scale the program and reach every single Indian youth in India and abroad and create opportunities to contributing to India’s social transformation through participation in YES! i am the CHANGE. We have received extremely positive response from the youth and in less than two years of its launch, YES! i am the CHANGE has become India’s largest filmmaking challenge with participation of over 50,000 youth from all States of India. Apart from the filmmaking challenge, we actively engage with the youth through social media, print, media for social change workshops and screenings of films.
Do you have any strategy to take competitive advantage from ‘YES! i am the CHANGE’?
In YES FOUNDATION, we believe that for any initiative to be sustainable, it needs to be closely involving all stakeholders. We chose the cause of media for social change, keeping in mind that YES BANK is the largest institutional lender to the film industry. YES BANK employees have enthusiastically participated in various initiatives under YES! i am the CHANGE. Over 60% of YES BANKers took part in the 101-Hour National Social Filmmaking Challenge. YES! i am the CHANGE films have been screened by the branch staff in school and colleges, across the country.
What are the achievements of the of ‘YES! i am the CHANGE?
YES! i am the CHANGE has emerged as the largest filmmaking program in India and one of the biggest in the world.
Over 50,000 youth pan-India, from 1,000 cities and towns across all Indian States, participated in the 101-Hour National Social Filmmaking Challenge 2014.
We received 1750+ completed films, which are being evaluated by an esteemed jury of filmmakers and educationists, including Vikramaditya Motwane (Director of Udaan and Lootera and Producer of Queen), Guneet Monga (Producer of The Lunch Box and Gangs of Wasseypur), Shoojit Sarkar (Director of Vicky Donor and Madras Cafe), Pritish Nandy (veteran journalist, poet and film producer), Nina Lath (Managing Director, National Film Development Corporation), Kailash Surendranath (veteran Ad filmmaker), Dr. Indu Shahani (ex-Sheriff, Mumbai and Dean, H.R. College, Mumbai) and Dr. Nagesh Rao (President and Director, MICA).
We have developed pro bono partnerships with 12 organisations including Media Trust, the UK’s largest Communications Not-for-Profit, CNN-IBN Citizen Journalist, Film and Television Producers Guild, International Advertising Association (India Chapter), Care India, GiveIndia, Helpage India, MICA, Press Club, Mumbai amongst others.
What are the most common issues addressed by citizen filmmakers?
We randomly assign participants two topics which are aligned with Millennium Development goals. Filmmakers then choose one on which to make a film. We have 10 topics as part of this year’s challenge, including Women Empowerment, Children’s Rights and Education, Environmental Sustainability, Elderly Care, Everyday Heroes, Random Acts of Kindness and Responsible Citizenship.
What are the end uses of these films?
The films are screened in film festivals across the country to raise awareness for social issues and Not-for-Profits. We work with YES BANK’s YES COMMUNITY program, where YES BANK branches actively engage with their local community to screen films and raise awareness and engage people with social issues. Last year, on 14th November-Children’s Day, YES! i am the CHANGE films were screened for over 41,400 school students, pan-India.
The top films of last year were screened on CNN-IBN Citizen Journalist on the occasion of Independence Day. The Channel will screen select films of YES! i am the CHANGE 2014 onOctober 2-Mahatma Gandhi Jayanti
The films form invaluable communication resources for use of Not-for-Profits to raise awareness on social causes. We are also launching a campaign that would allow filmmakers to use their films to raise funds for a Not-for-Profit of their choice.
Do you have any budget allocation for the of ‘YES! i am the CHANGE’ project?
YES FOUNDATION is the social development arm of YES BANK and receives all its funding from the BANK, including for YES! i am the CHANGE.
Who is the person behind ‘YES! i am the CHANGE’ initiative?
There is no one person behind YES! i am the CHANGE. Rather it is a movement driven by the passion and excitement of youth across India.