On a mission to catalyse negative news headlines into a force for good.
Written by: Caroline do Carmo
Y&Y Fellow Kasha Sequoia Slavner is a 20-year-old filmmaker and social entrepreneur who grew up in Toronto, Canada in a single-parent household. Kasha’s socially concerned mother Marla inspired her to develop a passion for creating positive change from a very young age. At 8 years old, Kasha started accompanying her mother to local social justice circles where she listened to the wisdom of elders discuss important issues ranging from the environment, homelessness, gender equality, anti-racism, global peace and more.
After attending a peace and leadership summer camp hosted by the Canadian Voice of Women for Peace, at 14, Kasha had the unique opportunity to attend the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, where she met women representing different organizations from all around the world.
Invigorated by this experience, at 16, Kasha felt an urge to use her passion for visual storytelling to travel the world. For her, the mainstream media wasn’t highlighting the many positive solutions being found to the world’s toughest issues. She wanted to document inspiring stories of people making a change in their own communities to show the world change is possible no matter where you come from.
After successfully crowdfunding enough to cover her expenses for six months, Kasha started a low-cost trip around the world with her mother and interviewed over 30 people working for social change in countries such as South Africa, Mozambique, Tanzania, Thailand, and China and narrowed the content down to seven impactful stories portrayed in her first multi-award winning documentary movie, The Sunrise Storyteller.
Upon return to Canada, Kasha wrote the script and edited the documentary during her summer breaks over the course of two years. The film had its World premiere at the UN Commission on the Status of Women in March 2017 to standing ovations. Since then, the documentary has toured to over 55 film festivals, including the UN Women’s Through Women’s Eye’s Film Festival as part of the Sarasota Film Festival, the Awareness Film Festival, the Nevada Women’s Film Festival, and the Social Justice Film Festival to name a few. It has received 28 awards to date, including the Ron Kovic Peace Prize based on the short excerpt from her film about Vietnam napalm bomb survivor Kim Phuc who she met upon returning from her travels.
According to Kasha, documentaries can be very overwhelming, portraying catastrophic scenarios and giving audiences little or no resources to take further action. To counteract this, she has developed an accompanying workshop & toolkit to pair with the film, which aims at helping people, transform all the emotion they feel after watching a documentary into positive action.
The Global Sunrise Project shares stories of resilient role models in the global community who are making a difference despite all odds. The multi-media organization addresses the need for a shift in narrative, from sensationalized headlines and bad news to one of empowered leadership and global citizenship. The Global Sunrise Project is based on 3 pillars: Inspire, Educate and Give Back.
“Kasha’s Sunrise Storyteller is a thoughtful film that can launch students into deep conversations about a variety of global issues. The film is an engaging opportunity, which motivates and inspires students to continue their conversations outside of the classroom. Teens will especially connect with the film considering it was directed and told through the point of view of another teen.” – New Roads High School, Los Angeles
Check out Kasha’s newest talk “Mission Possible: Shifting the Bad News Narrative for Social Good” and learn more about her journey and The Global Sunrise Project.
Interested in connecting with Kasha?
Applications for the 2019 Yunus&Youth Fellowship Program are now open!
Click here to apply! Deadline: February 18th, 2019 11:59 EST