“Code of Silence”: Evaluation Highlights

Key Findings from Research in Nigeria:
A Report to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
June 2016

An effort by Hollywood, Health & Society, Nollywood Workshops, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation led to the development of Code of Silence (CoS), a mainstream Nollywood film tackling issues of rape and gender equality, which premiered in Nigeria in August 2015. This report outlines preliminary evaluation findings from research investigating the impact of the film on attitudes toward rape and gender equality.

Going Viral: Measuring the Impact of “Contagion”

Contagion is a feature film directed by Academy Award winner Steven Soderbergh and released in 2011. The film follows the rapid progression of a highly contagious virus that kills within days. As the epidemic grows, medical researchers and public health officials work to contain the disease, introduce a vaccine to halt its spread and calm the panic that spreads as fast as the virus itself. The film highlights the factors that shape the occurrence of a pandemic, the limits and consequences of public health responses and how interpersonal connections can play a role in the spread of disease.

It was especially exciting to measure the social impact of Contagion because it is a fictional film. While most audience members recognize that documentary films are often carefully engineered to deliver actionable data to viewers, moviegoers do not immediately assume that a fictional film might teach them something or encourage them to change their attitudes about a particular issue, or take action after the film is over. Whether the topic is history or science, experts are often wary about fictional films that try to grapple with real-life issues and events. Contagion, which provides a gripping illustration of what could happen if a global pandemic occurred, caused a flurry of news coverage about its accuracy. Director Steven Soderbergh attracted a bevy of A-list talent — Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow, Kate Winslet, Marion Cotillard, Jude Law and Laurence Fishburne — which increased the odds that this film would be seen by a very broad range of moviegoers, most of whom know very little about global pandemics.

Preaching to the Choir? Measuring the Impact of Waiting for “Superman”

Waiting for “Superman” is a 2010 documentary directed by Davis Guggenheim, who also directed An Inconvenient Truth. The film looks at the failures of the American public education system through the stories of students and their families who strive for better educational opportunities. The film received the Audience Award for best documentary at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival and, since its release, has directed donations to over 2.8 million children. The film’s release ignited a heated debate about the challenges facing public education to provide adequate education and opportunities for students, parents and teachers.

Two questions guided our study of this film:
● Which variables influenced someone’s likelihood of watching Waiting for “Superman?”
● What was the impact of Waiting for “Superman” on knowledge, attitudes and behavior?

Funding for this study, which was independently designed, conducted and released by the Norman Lear Center, was provided by Participant Media, who also co-financed the making of Waiting for “Superman.”

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Real to Reel: For TV & Film Writers – Fall 2015

The latest Real to Reel newsletter from Hollywood, Health & Society offers a riveting story about Exxon’s lead role in climate change denial over the last two decades, a photo gallery of people living in flooded areas around the world, surveys on Texas women forced to end their own pregnancies due to the state’s restrictive abortion laws, a report on the toll that poverty takes on adults and children in Los Angeles, and what baby boomer retirement might look like.

Patterns of Commoning

Lear Center Senior Fellow David Bollier is co-editor of Patterns of Commoning, a new book of more than fifty original essays which survey some of the most notable, inspiring commons around the world, from alternative currencies and open design and manufacturing, to centuries-old community forests and co-learning commons.


What accounts for the persistence and spread of “commoning,” the irrepressible desire of people to collaborate and share to meet everyday needs? How are the more successful projects governed? And why are so many people embracing the commons as a powerful strategy for building a fair, humane and Earth-respecting social order?