In February 2016, our Creative Director, Joanna Rudnick, was selected as an envoy to visit Indonesia through the American Film Showcase—a partnership between the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts and the United States State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.
In addition to being a highly successful creative director who engineers and crafts engaging stories for our partners, Joanna is also an accomplished documentary filmmaker. With an interest in the manifestation of how genetics impact society and our worldview, Joanna was selected to visit Sumatra and Java in Indonesia to screen her latest film—On Beauty. The 30-minute documentary produced with Kartemquin Films, tells the moving story of a renowned fashion photographer who leaves the fashion industry behind to devote his career to changing the way we see the beauty in people with visible genetic differences.
Joanna’s film—which explores the societal effects of discrimination, ostracism and self-doubt experienced by the photographer’s photo subjects and the people profiled in the film— resonated with audiences in Indonesia, many of whom were students of English or film. “Audiences were hungry for any type of exposure to media that wasn’t scripted news or soap opera,” says Joanna. “There isn’t much of a documentary industry or broadcast outlet for documentaries in Indonesia, and more than once I heard, ‘How did you do that?’ And more than once I said, ‘You have too many stories here to let them all be told by outsiders.’”
Joanna not only followed her natural storytelling instincts to discover a wealth of untold stories, she also leveraged her content marketing and social outreach expertise to create a movement with the hashtag #beranibicara (dare to speak) to encourage in-country budding documentarians to tell their stories on social media through short films submitted to Facebook and Instagram. The results have been astounding.
By creating a community, Joanna enabled groups of students in Indonesia to use their voices and ‘dare to speak’. She taught that those who ‘dare to speak’ show the world what leaders are made of.