World Stories was launched in an effort to give the many tremendous, thought-provoking and touching documentary films a longer life and a broader audience. Every year hundreds of films are painstakingly made, often at great peril to the filmmakers involved, but most are seen by only very small audiences at the festival circuit, through broadcasters in a dozen OECD countries, and through online streaming services to those fortunate enough to be able to pay the monthly subscription fees.
World Stories wanted mass audiences to see these films. In recognition that most people – including those who cannot read and write – still watch TV, The Why set up World Stories, to distribute 20 documentary films every year to public broadcasters, targeting specifically broadcasters in low and middle income countries. The Why has extensive experience distributing documentary film series globally, and used its network to reach new broadcasters.
It quickly became apparent that the series met a gaping need for high-quality, independent and factual content among broadcasters. Most replied that they had extremely limited funding and many highlighted their lack of tradition for showing fact-based films, but all were thrilled to learn more. Within a year broadcasters from all over the world have started to reach out to The Why to find out how they too can gain access to World Stories.
Moreover, initial feedback from filmmakers and subjects suggest that the documentary films go beyond providing balanced public service TV to provide impetus to social justice campaigns and connect people across nationality, religion and culture around common human rights issues.
It is therefore with pride we now say; from Ukraine to the Philippines, and from Lebanon to Brazil; World Stories uses the power of broadcast media to provide public education about the world we live in. Reaching mass audiences with universal stories.
Reaching New Audiences
WORLD STORIES changes lives on a daily basis because the series shows independent journalistic content to people who have little or no experience with fact based journalism; living in countries where the government exercises censorship and suppresses free speech. By giving people knowledge World Stories gives people the power to act as global citizens.
World Stories currently works with more than 9 local broadcasters to reach an estimated 10 to 35 million people per film. Audiences include an average of 1.9 million people in Brazil, and an average 350 000 people in Ukraine per film.
Independent documentary films were shown for the first time by a Vietnamese public broadcaster through World Stories.
Energizing Social Justice Campaigns
Innocent on Death Row is a film about a young Spanish-Filipino man, Paco, who was convicted of a brutal murder he probably didn’t commit. The film was shown for the first time in the Philippines through World Stories.
The broadcast revitalised the on-going social justice campaign for Paco. While Paco is still not free, he has been granted special license to undertake studies and is currently working part time as a chef in Spain.
My Childhood In Hell depicts the successful Danish children’s rights activist Lisbeth Zorning Andersen confronting her own upbringing with neglect, poverty and sexual abuse – a journey that proves much harder than she ever imagined. Following the World Stories broadcast, in 2015, Lisbeth received several emails from men and women around the world, including South Korea and Palestine.
People who like her grew up impoverished and abused, but have achieved success as adults. Some had never shared their stories before but wanted to share with Lisbeth – a woman they knew would intimately relate to their experiences.
Strengthening Public Media
The feedback from our broadcasters and filmmakers is unequivocal: World Stories goes beyond commentary and provides audiences with important human stories, connects people from around the world, and provides large segments of our global society with information they otherwise would never have access to; supporting social justice campaigns, and actively building a more open and compassionate world.