Marin Arts & Culture May 2017 - Page 37

election. She expected her film to be part of a celebration to mark the selection of American’s first woman president. Instead, “I woke up the next day and thought, ‘We have to do a 50/50 day,’” she says. Shlain’s interest in film began when she was growing up in Mill Valley, and her parents, psychologist Carole Lewis Jaffe and the late Leonard Shlain, a surgeon, author and inventor, took their family to see a film at the Sequoia theater every weekend, with a discussion over dinner following. She went on to study film history at the University of California, Berkeley, and then took a summer course in film production at New York University. After college, she went back and forth between film and technology, and when it became possible to combine film and the web, she found her niche. “It opened up so much for me,” she says. To date, among her many accomplishments, she’s founded the Webby Awards, the International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences, and has made more than 25 films, including four that the U.S. Department of State selected for use in the American Film Showcase, which sends films and filmmakers to embassies in countries with conflicts to foster dialog as a way to encourage peace. Shlain has trave led to embassies in Israel and South Africa and says, “It’s like being a film ambassador . . . It’s an amazing program.” For several years, her San Francisco- based non-profit, Let It Ripple film studio, has produced Character Day, a global initiative to explore ways to build character using film, technology, discussion materials and events. In addition, it uses cloud filmmaking, an innovative process that involves writing a script, asking questions and posting them online. “People send videos back, and then we integrate them into a film,” she explains. In September 2016, 93,000 events took place in 124 countries and all 50 states, and the day included a global livecast with experts in the fields of positive psychology, education and character development. Shlain encourages schools to sign up now for this year’s Character Day, which is free and takes place on Wednesday, September 13. “It’s an important conversation to have early, young and often,” she says. Gender balance is a timely issue that also needs discussion, and it’s not just for women. “We want to get men engaged and involved,” says Shlain, who finds the issue personally important. “I have two daughters and fortunately a very collaborative husband, Ken Goldberg,” she says. Goldberg, a professor at UC Berkeley, is also her partner in filmmaking. 50/50 Rethinking the Past, Present & Future of Women + Power premiered at TEDWomen and Refinery29 two weeks before the 2016 November election, and it screened at the Women’s March on Washington in January 2017. 50/50 Day activities can be adapted for any level, and on May 10, diverse groups throughout Marin County, including The Bystander Project, Nassiri’s Love Sees No Color Foundation, The Hivery and the Rotary Club of Tiburon-Belvedere, as well as several schools, will host gatherings for an event that includes screening of the film and uses Character Day as its model. “I believe in people; I believe in humanity,” says Shlain, but she believes society is currently going in the wrong direction and explains that when more perspectives are included in the discussion, the decisions and outcomes are better. “It’s powerful to be part of a day when people all over the world are doing it from different perspectives,” she says. Thus, her goal on 50/50 Day is to use film to take discussion, thinking and action to the next level. It’s a compelling way to reach people and effect social change. “Film can really inspire you to feel, think, laugh, sometimes cry,” she says. “They’re called movies for a reason. They move you.” MC&A MARIN ARTS & CULTURE 37