Beyond Film Impact Assessment: Being Caribou Community Screenings as Activist Training Grounds

Shirley Roburn


This article draws from a multiyear study of the impact of Being Caribou to propose a model of how social movements build participation and leadership through community film screenings. From 2004 to 2005, hundreds of thousands of people saw Being Caribou at volunteer organized community and house party screenings that served as activist training grounds for the Alaska Coalition’s Arctic Refuge campaign. Drawing on media history and civic engagement research methods, I establish how these screenings built on previous movement storytelling efforts and infrastructures to knit communities and organizations together; deepen investment in Arctic Refuge protection; and strengthen the skills, organizing capacity, and “leadership-in-practice” of a broad swathe of individual activists.


documentary film, Being Caribou, film impact assessment, civic engagement, social movement storytelling, engagement organizing, infrastructure

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