Monday, June 24, 2013

GOOD 100

GOOD Magazine just named Shine a Light one of the 100 most interesting projects working for social change in the world.

Read the article here.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Shine a Light Annual Appeal

Thirty Baniwa kids sat on rough wooden benches in the great-house of Itacoatiara, far up the headwaters of the Amazon River.  They normally came into the huge, thatched building only for ceremonies and rituals, but that day their eyes turned to a computer screen, to a series of movies we made with Kuna Indian children last year.  They shuttered in fear at the jaguar, laughed at the wedding feast, cheered when the Kuna people won fire from their enemies: though Kuna and Baniwa cultures are immensely different, it seemed that the films had found their perfect audience.

"We tell stories about jaguars, too," a five year old girl said.  "Could we make a film about that?"

"I remember one my Daddy told me about the jaguar and a turtle," suggested a boy.  The conversation  dipped and turned for quite some time, until two groups had invented the plot for two different movies about their own stories and myths.

For the last decade, Shine a Light has done a great job in producing films with children on the margins of society, with amazing results for the apprentice filmmakers; last year, for instance, we fond out that almost 40% of them go on to higher education, as compared to less than one percent of their peers.  This year, though, we decided to think carefully about the marketing side of films: not so that everyone in the world could see them, but so that the right people could.

Five years ago, for instance, we helped Sáliva Indian children from Colombia to make a beautiful little documentary, where their great-grandfather taught them the traditional way to make an arrow.  This year, the film caught fire on YouTube: over 60,000 people -- and from their comments, most of them South American Indians -- saw the clip.  We also sponsored a mobile film festival on the islands of Kuna Yala in Panamá, where almost 8000 Kunas saw movies made by the tribe's children, projected on thatched roofs and school walls.  We also showed many films in the Amazon and organized half a dozen showings in the favelas of Recife, where hundreds of people came each night.

While getting a viewer in Paris or Tokyo might make me feel good, when a Mapuche Indian sees the film in rural Chile, she may start to think about what she can do to teach her culture to her grandchildren.  Rural kids whose families have moved to Lima might ask their parents to teach them things forgotten when they came to the city.  Or, as was the case in the Amazon, a film by Kuna kids can inspire Baniwa and Tukano children to make their own movies.

Whether working with indigenous kids, pre-schoolers in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro, or gang members in Recife, Shine a Light has long taught children to express themselves through art.  Today, I'm writing to ask for your donation, so that we can also help them to inspire other kids and adults around the world.

Please send donations to

John Stephan, Treasurer
Shine a Light
15 Kingston Rd.
Newton Highlands, MA 02461

Checks should be made out to Shine a Light. We have also installed a system for on-line donations: just go to and click on the button at the lower right of the page, where it says, “Donate now through Network for Good.”  Note that you can make a one time donation or arrange to have a sum donated automatically each month. 

Your donation is 100% tax deductible, and if you'd care to donate on behalf of someone else, we'll be glad to write that person a thank you note as well (and get it to them before Christmas).  And if you have any friends who might be interested in supporting this work, please feel free to send this letter on to them.

If you have any questions, please feel free to write or call me (505 349 5825 or 

Thank you,


Kurt Shaw
Director Ejecutivo
505 349 5825

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Monday, August 6, 2012

Lola Kenya Film festival

Three Shine a Light films were selected for showing at Lola Kenya, the most important festival of films by and for children in Africa. Return to a City of Rhyme, The Heron, and the Iskar were all chosen, more than any other producer in the world.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

1925 film showing

This weekend, José Angel Colman, Agata Surma, and Beatriz Abramovich took the ten films we made as a part of the 1925 project and showed them to the filmmakers and their families in KosKuna, an indigenous slum outside of Panama City.  The films, made both in the city and on the islands where the Kuna traditionally live, are available here for those who couldn't make the showing.

Photos by Beatriz Abramovich.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Un Filme per la Pace

Return to a City of Rhyme has just been named an official selection to the "A Film for Peace" festival, with showings in Italy and England.  You can see the film here.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012