"The Vision of Muhammad Yunus" by filmmaker Holly Mosher, part 3
Welcome back to part three of my interview with Holly Mosher, director and producer of Bonsai People: The Vision of Muhammad Yunus. Mr. Yunus received the Congressional Gold Medal on April 17th for his program of microlending to the very poorest segment of his country, Bangladesh. He and the bank received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006.
JB: You were able to be in DC for the recent festivities, Holly. What was that like?
HM: It was fantastic to be included in last week's Congressional Gold Medal Ceremony for Dr. Yunus. He was visibly moved by the speeches made by several members of both the House and Senate, including his longtime friend Senator Richard Durbin from Illinois. I previously heard Sen. Durbin speak of the many times he has visited Bangladesh to see Yunus' work over the past 20 years, when he gave the opening speech for Yunus when Yunus was receiving the Wright Institute for Transformational Leadership Award in Chicago. The hope by giving Dr. Yunus the Congressional Gold Medal is that his message of both microcredit and social business can be spread here at home in the US. It was also noted that Dr. Yunus was the first Muslim to ever receive this award.
I was also honored to have Mrs. Mbecki, wife of the former President of South Africa attend my presentation at Capitol Hill, where she told me that they will be bringing social business to South Africa.
JB: Very, very cool. How did you wind up in the film industry in the first place, Holly?
HM: Growing up in Milwaukee, I never even imagined that people could have a career in filmmaking. As I was getting ready for college, my guidance counselor gave me some personality tests and after that - along with knowing that I liked photography - she recommended that I apply to NYU's film school. That idea would have never crossed my mind, as I imagined I would major in philosophy. Based on my grades and photos, they even offered me a merit scholarship, and I have only worked on film in one form or another since then.
JB: Was it hard to get funding for this film?
HM: At first, I just started out funding my trips to Bangladesh, but then I was able to get a large grant for the film and when that ran out, I was able to raise $50,000 on Kickstarter.
JB: How did you get Yunus to participate?
HM: It wasn't hard to get him to agree to the film, but I did have to be patient with his schedule. It was a full 10 months after my request until we had our first interview. He's a very busy man!
JB: I imagine so. Is it much more complicated to pull off a socially conscious film?
HM: In some ways, it is the hardest thing you can do, as feature documentaries take much longer than other film projects, where you start out with a script. On the other hand, I think people are really hungry to learn about what is really going on in the world and want to support projects about issues they care about. So, I believe there is more support in the form of grants and crowdsourced funds for socially conscious films than other projects.