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Revolutionary Optimists

Documentary Film, Sundance Stories of Change


Story: Children are saving lives in the slums of Calcutta. Amlan Ganguly doesn’t rescue children; he empowers them to become change agents, battling poverty and transforming their neighborhoods.

The Revolutionary Optimists follows Amlan and the children he works with – Shika, Salim, Kajal, and Priyanka – on an intimate journey through adolescence, as they bravely fight the forces that oppress them.

Using street theater, dance, and data as their weapons, the children mounted vaccination drives to close the final mile with polio vaccination, turned garbage dumps into playing fields, and conducted education campaigns resulting in a significant drop in malaria and diarrhea in their neighborhood. Through intimate footage, we witness not only the changes they are able to make in their neighborhood, but also the changes in the children themselves.

Background: In production since 2008, The Revolutionary Optimists has evolved into a short film and multi-platform tool as well as a feature film. In 2010 the filmmakers participated in the Bay Area Video Coalition (BAVC) Producers Institute to develop Map Your World, an innovative way to track clean water and other public health issues. The short film, The Revolutionary Optimists, premiered at a TEDx event, introduced by Melinda Gates. The feature film was nominated for a 2014 Emmy in the category “Outstanding Business and Economic Reporting, Long Form.” and was also part of the 2011 Sundance Documentary Edit and Story Lab at the Sundance Resort and broadcast across the United States PBS in June 2013 as part of Women and Girls Lead