PO Box 676, 1 Kipling Road
Brattleboro, VT 05302 USA
SIT Graduate Institute
Film-making and social justice
"Films come to us; we don’t go hunting for them"
- Putting passion into practice with experientially-based master's degree programs.
- Equipping tomorrow's leaders with real-world strategies, on-the-ground field experience in area of study, and the intercultural management skills sought after in global leaders.
SIT Graduate Institute alumna Lisa Merton brings her passion for social justice and cultural diversity to the movie screen. An award-winning filmmaker, Merton has more than 20 years experience producing documentaries that feature intercultural stories of activists and artists from around the world.
Merton’s filmography is grounded in her experiences growing up in an intercultural household as well as knowledge acquired during her studies at the SIT Graduate Institute. Her most celebrated film "Taking Root: the Vision of Wangari Maathai" chronicles the life and struggles of World Learning Trustee Emeriti Wangari Maathai, whose efforts to lead Kenya’s Green Belt Movement earned her the Nobel Peace Prize.
Merton saw the potential impact of such a movie from the beginning. Her instinct was right."Taking Root" won more than a dozen awards at international film festivals, debuted in 22 countries, and broadcast on public television multiple times. "This story was so relevant to a worldwide audience," she said. "The way Wangari linked social justice, environmental justice, and human rights… this is a kind of literacy needed for this century."
Wanting to further contribute to the efforts started by Maathai, Merton and co-producer Alan Dater developed a 'Taking Root' action guide and networked with dozens of environmental and educational organizations to show the film in support or environmental awareness and sustainability projects throughout the US and beyond. They continue to collaborate with environmental activists to find ways the film can support their efforts.
An inspiring female figure is also at the center of Merton’s 2000 film, "The World in Claire’s Classroom." The film captures the true story of Vermont elementary school teacher Claire Oglesby and her quest to educate her predominantly white classroom about cultural differences and diversity. Since its release, the film has become an important tool in classrooms across the US, its popularity soaring in the years after September 11, 2001 as educators looked to address anti-Arab and anti-Muslim attitudes in their communities.
Although Merton is still busy meeting the demand for 'Taking Root', she is beginning to develop ideas for her next films. Until that time, Merton is proving that inspirational figures can appear both in front of – and behind – the camera.
To learn more about the films of Lisa Merton and Alan Dater, go to www.marlboroproductions.com.