Saturday, September 20, 2008

One-Person Projects

I now realize that I was making excuses back then. From time to time, we all come across instances where one person, through sheer perseverance and not much else achieves something remarkable. Confronted with those examples, I was able to go easy on myself by thinking 'if only I had more time'. The thing is, I now have the time and so that excuse doesn’t work anymore.

I recently saw a documentary titled Nobelity, a one-man effort. Since I am also currently reading about Crowdsourcing (and getting very excited about the possibilities), I am realizing that both ends of the effort spectrum -- group effort or single person actions -- are equally interesting and potent.

This post is about three feature-length documentaries that I saw this year, all of which are essentially one-person efforts.

Nobelity has 9 interviews with 9 different Nobel prize winners in disparate fields, shot on location in several countries. Without exception, all these laureates are very good communicators, capable of communicating directly to the lay person about powerful ideas and concepts. (I highly recommend that you seek out and watch this on DVD.)

Turk Pipkin conceived of this project (worried about what the world would be like 50 years from now, the world his two young daughters will grow up in) and took the time (over 3 years) to follow through. It is an opportunity for us to hear Nobel laureates speaking to Turk, one on one.

Peace One Day is one Jeremy Gilley’s attempt (he almost succeeded) to see if the whole world would set aside one day each year when there would be no wars, no fighting. A world ceasefire, just for one day. Obsessed and consumed by this idea, Jeremy meets with students, NGO’s, politicians, the Dalai Lama, presidents of countries and Kofi Annan, trying to convince them to give it just a try. Again, do watch the DVD if you can get hold of a copy, if only for this guy’s persistence.

Finally, Scared/Sacred is one person’s visit to around ten places of major catastrophes (think Bhopal Union Carbide, think Chernobyl, think Cambodia’s killing fields, think Hiroshima). In these places, interviews people, hangs around and allows us to share in his personal journey. His goal is to look for lessons and to communicate hope even in these places of oppression.

All three movies are extremely rewarding, and I recommend them all. Be sure to also watch the story behind the making of these DVD in the special features sections.

Again, the humbling part all of three documentaries is that they are all one person efforts – real-life reminders of what one person can do, if only they took the time.

1 comment:

Arvind said...


movie recommendation for you. I rented a 1936 movie from Itunes (3 dollar rental) called "after the thin man." This is a very sweet movie, which besides its interesting murder mystery plot was very illuminating to me about how advanced the US was even in 1936. I dont think India is as advanced even now.

The movie is about a husband and wife pair with the husband being the detective. It has a very light airy feel to it mainly from the humor. It was also nominated for an Oscar.

One of the things I found interesting in the movie was a scene in which the husband is kissing the wife when a stranger notices and the wife explains, "its allright we are married." Today, no one would even care here, but India is still like that.