Michele Mitchell Is Using Investigative Journalism for Social Change

Most watch an influential documentary and are inspired for hours, maybe even days, wondering how to turn the knowledge they’ve learned into action. But how does one start to create change?

Michele Mitchell, co-founder of Film at 11, and her team build interactive communities around the social issues their documentaries call attention to. The communities, composed of various events, educational outreach and meaningful discussions, allow viewers to continue to engage with an issue even after the closing credits of a film. Michele Mitchell is a speaker for TEDxNavesink 2015: Accelerators, and her talk will discuss the recent acceleration of rape prosecuted as a war crime, something that is sure to get people thinking about social change.

Founded in 2008, Film at 11 has produced a handful of powerful documentaries. An investigative journalist to her core, Michele has no problem asking difficult questions to learn necessary answers. This is how the award winning documentary, “Haiti: Where Did the Money Go?” began. Michele, the director and producer of the film, wanted to know what happened to the $1.4 billion dollars Americans donated after the earthquake in Haiti. The eye-opening documentary seeks to answer this question and investigates why two years after the earthquake people in Haiti were still living in appalling conditions.

Michele is also the co-director, producer and writer of the upcoming film, “The Uncondemned.” The inspiration for this documentary was sparked by a motivation to clear up misconceptions of what rape really is. The documentary will tell the story of the people who fought for the first prosecution of rape as a crime of war in 1997.

Michele’s talk for the upcoming TEDxNavesink conference, “Ending the Myth: Prosecuting Rape as a Crime of War,” will delve into how rape is used as a tactic during war to exert power. Her talk will explore why it took so long for rape to be prosecuted as a war crime and what it took for the first witness to come forward.

Former TEDxNavesink speaker Robyn Stratton-Berkessel interviewed Michele for her podcast series, “Positivity Strategist.” The podcast, “Rape Documentary-Shifting the Power,” explores Michele’s process as a filmmaker, including why she is committed to shedding light on issues that need attention.

Michele had been reporting on social and political issues long before co-founding Film at 11. She has researched and reported on a range of social and political issues, including the war on terror, voter fraud, women and the economy, and child slavery. She began her career working as communications director for Representative Pete Green. Michele then transitioned into the world of news reporting and writing, becoming a political anchor for CNN Headline News as well as a correspondent for “NOW with Bill Moyers” on PBS. Michele has also written three books: Our Girl in Washington: A Kate Boothe Novel, The Latest Bombshell, and A New Kind of Party Animal: How the Young are Redefining “Politics as Usual.”

Besides traveling and investigating for Film at 11 documentaries, Michele writes a column, “Letter from New York” for GQ Italia. She also speaks all over the country to spread awareness about the social issues she is passionate about.

To see Michele’s talk, attend TEDxNavesink 2015: Accelerators. You can get your tickets here!

audreyAudrey Ardine recently graduated from Douglass Residential College at Rutgers University in May with a Bachelor’s Degree in English. She is currently working for a trade association in Monmouth County. She resides in Red Bank and has lived there for most of her life.