Facebook teams up with filmmaker Kiran Rao for Thumbstoppers initiative

Director launches two short-format films with a strong social message

Filmmaker Kiran Rao, is promoting the Thumbstoppers challenge by Facebook with the launch of two, 10-second mobile video, public service ads (PSA). The films mark Ms. Rao’s return as a director, eight years after her debut venture Dhobi Ghat (2011). The 45-year-old director was enthusiastic about both the medium as well as the message of her most recent work. “Ten seconds. No audio. To shoot vertical. And [to] show change in human behaviour. The brief for these films was certainly exciting,” said Ms. Rao at the launch event at Facebook’s Mumbai office on Tuesday.

Both videos are currently live on Facebook. While one focuses on gender parity, the other is about domestic abuse. The first depicts two siblings, a girl and a boy, who are handed over two glasses of milk, the fuller one belonging to the latter. Aware of the disparity, the brother corrects the situation. The second film depicts a woman survivor of domestic abuse who is handed over a cell phone by her domestic staff urging her to call the police for help.

Thumbstoppers, launched in May, is Facebook’s attempt at revolutionising mobile videos. It has partnered with creative agencies like Wunderman Thompson, Ogilvy, Leo Burnett, McCann and Mullen Lintas to make more such videos. “The partnership with Kiran Rao is a powerful ode to the magic that can be created in ad storytelling for the mobile-first world,” Sunita G.R., Head of Marketing at Facebook India.

Ms. Rao’s motivation with the short-form is to direct stories that are effective and yet will be consumed by the masses. “I probably watch more than what I’m making and I know what I like,” said the director while talking about the creative process involved in PSAs. “We want to have our work [to start] conversations between people. I will orient my storytelling [accordingly]. I feel the landscape has hugely opened up for us and we must be honest to our own creative impulses.”

As part of Thumbstoppers, Facebook has invited filmmakers to submit their short stories based on the brief of driving social change in a video that’s less than ten seconds. Facebook will produce the best 20 films. The deadline for submissions is July 12 and winners of the Thumbstopper Challenge, who will be announced in August, will travel to Cannes next year.

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