The 1st Annual Do Good Awards: Ladies Who Give Back
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The 1st Annual Do Good Awards: Ladies Who Give Back


Rory Kennedy
Rory Kennedy, Documentary Filmmaker

Moxie Firecracker Films

When I made my first documentary film, Women of Substance, in 1994, I found that many pregnant women who were addicted to drugs tried to get treatment but couldn't. I felt if I could share their stories on Capitol Hill -- with people who were in the position of changing policy -- we could come up with a more appropriate response. Obviously, I couldn't bring all these women to Capitol Hill, but I could bring a camera into their living rooms. Since then I've made films about an Appalachian family (American Hollow), prisoner abuse (Ghosts of Abu Ghraib), and the U.S.-Mexican border (The Fence). The power of a documentary is that you are able to reach into people's hearts in a way that is hard to do with a two-minute clip on the evening news. When you tell in-depth stories, viewers can connect more. Years ago I showed my five-part series for HBO, Pandemic: Facing AIDS, on Capitol Hill. At that point we were giving very little funding to the international AIDS crisis -- somewhere in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, I think. After the screening, Senator Patrick Leahy told me he was putting an extra $25 million in the budget to support women and children with AIDS in Africa. He said the film opened his eyes to the issue. Obviously, I don't feel as though my movies are going to solve the world's problems. But it's satisfying to know that by getting these stories out there, I'm making some difference. To learn more, visit